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Picture of Kalleh
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I was just reading about obsolete euphemisms, and I thought you wordcrafters might be able to come up with a few good ones, too. Here are a few:

    "Your barn door is open" - fly is open
    "It's snowing down South." - slip is showing
    Trousers being "high water." - pants are too short


What are some of yours?
 
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Interesting. The first ones that come to mind are barely family friendly:

The curse: a woman's courses
In a family way: pregnant

See a man about a dog: I think it means go to the bathroom. I wonder where the heck that came from?
 
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on a minimally related note, though not obsolete -- We used to do medieval re-enactment. Many of the women were.... fluffy. (a euphemism in and of itself). A goodly number of these ladies were fond of wearing bodices and corsets which displayed their mammalian endowments. My two favorite euphemisms were "Vast tracts of land" and "really great real estate".

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See a man about a dog

That brings back old memories, my dad used to say that. He also used to say, when something was lost:

"It's in the cellar behind the axe." No idea where that comes from either.

My logophile friend sent me:

"In the south, young ladies do not sweat.
They do not perspire. THEY GLOW!"

"Old sign forbidding 'committing a nuisance'
meant no urinating, etc. in a public area."
 
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Kalleh's your logophile friend, although no doubt both knowledgeable and experienced, is in this instance unacquainted with the precise distinction:
    horses sweat
    gentlemen perspire
    ladies glow
 
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Dear lord, jo, what a wonderful but voluminous topic! We may have to divide it into "euphemisms for _______", "euphemisms for _______", etc.

Heck, I'd bet we could fill a thread with Shakespearean euphemisms. Shall we try?
 
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Hey, twern't my idea! Wink But I love the study of euphemisms.
 
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quote:
Originally posted by Kalleh:
He also used to say, when something was lost:

"It's in the cellar behind the axe." No idea where that comes from either.

I don't know where it comes from, either. It just sounds like a nonsense reply to me. But it reminded me of a song recorded by Carl Sandburg in The American Songbag:

A bob-hired blond girl with a dirty face stood on a downtown street corner in Chicago singing this song; she wore green goggles and held out a tin cup to passers-by; she was being initiated.... We have heard the piece sung and giggled.... As to gigglers we quote Cherubini, "The only thing worse than one flute is two flutes."

GO GET THE AX

Peepin' through the knot-hole
Of grandpa's wooden leg,
Who'll wind the clock when I am gone?
Go get the ax
There's a flea in Lizzie's ear,
For a boy's best friend is his mother.

Peepin' through the knot-hole
Of grandpa's wooden leg,
Why do they build the shore so near the ocean?
Who cut the sleeves
Out of dear old daddy's vest,
And dug up Fido's bones to build the sewer?

A horsey stood around,
His feet upon the ground,
Oh, who will wind the clock when I am gone?
Go get the ax,
There's a fly on Lizzie's ear,
But a boy's best friend is his mother.

I fell from a window,
A second-story window,
I caught my eyebrow on the window-sill.
The cellar is behind the door,
Mary's room is behind the ax,
But a boy's best friend is his mother.

A search on the web came up with this:

Alex heads down the cellar with his grandson Jim. It's time to stoke the coal furnace for the night. Jim just loves getting the coal for Grandpa. And tonight, Jim discovers what Grandpa means when he uses the expression "down the cellar behind the axe!" There, behind the axe, is his little after-dinner drink. After all, we couldn't let the aunts know about that!

Tinman
 
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<Asa Lovejoy>
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"committing a nuisance meant no urinating..."

Nowadays we've got street signs that display a leter "P" with a slash through it. That must be the contemporary version.
 
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quote:
Originally posted by Asa Lovejoy:
"committing a nuisance meant no urinating..."

Nowadays we've got street signs that display a leter "P" with a slash through it. That must be the contemporary version.

I always thought that mean "No pimping, prostituting, or proselytizing".

Tinman
 
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Oh, Tinman, thanks so much for that information on my father's very curious phrase, "down in the cellar behind the axe." I will ask him where he got it, though he probably won't have any idea. He has so many funny sayings like that! Big Grin
 
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Euphemism for never having had sex (again, from my logophile friend):

"Never been awakened"
 
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quote:
Originally posted by tinman:
quote:
Originally posted by Asa Lovejoy:
"committing a nuisance meant no urinating..."

Nowadays we've got street signs that display a leter "P" with a slash through it. That must be the contemporary version.

I always thought that meant "No pimping, prostituting, or proselytizing".

Tinman
 
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"Spare the rod, and spoil the child" is another that my logophile friend says was widely used as a rationale for corporal punishment. Can't say that I've heard it.
 
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quote:
Originally posted by Kalleh:
. . . my father's very curious phrase, "down in the cellar behind the axe." I will ask him where he got it, though he probably won't have any idea. He has so many funny sayings like that! Big Grin

Kalleh, I found a website of Vermont sayings. One of them was "Down cellar behind the axe (Two meanings: busy or hiding)."

Another saying I liked on that site was "So dry the trees are following the dogs around." That's the way it is around here about now.

Tinman
 
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Kalleh, I've heard "spare the rod and spoil the child" quite a few times, although I can't seem to remember to where I heard/read that. Until child labor was outlawed in the early 20th century, most people believed children should be working at an early age, and a lot of these sayings revolve around that.
 
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quote:
"Your barn door is open" - fly is open


This one is definitely not obsolete. It is probably the most common way to notify a person their fly is open.

quote:
Trousers being "high water." - pants are too short


I've never heard "high water", but there is "flood pants", which is essentially the same euphemism.
 
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I've always liked "so crowded you couldn't swing a cat" . . .


*******
"Happiness is not something ready made. It comes from your own actions.
~Dalai Lama
 
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For "your fly is open".... my Dad would say to my brothers:

"You opening a hotdog stand?"
 
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We always said "XYZ" for an open zipper . . . not quite sure why. There was a longer phrase of letters, too, but I forget them.


*******
"Happiness is not something ready made. It comes from your own actions.
~Dalai Lama
 
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You must be young, CW. My kids said "XYZ," (examine your zipper) but my generation said "Your barn door's open." Now I reply, "I'm just advertizing."

Tinman
 
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When someone would leave a door open, someone else would invariably say, "Shut the door! Were you born in a barn?!" My dad would answer, "Yeah! And every time I hear the bray of a jackass it makes me homesick!"

Tinman
 
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Re: "Spare the rod and spoil the child," its origins are Biblical:

"He who spareth the rod hateth his son: but he that loveth him correcteth him betimes" (Proverbs 13:24) and "Withhold not correction from a child: for if thou strike him with the rod, he shall not die. Thou shalt beat him with the rod, and deliver his soul from hell." (Proverbs 23:13-14)
 
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quote:
Now I reply, "I'm just advertizing."

How's that workin out for ya?


*******
"Happiness is not something ready made. It comes from your own actions.
~Dalai Lama
 
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quote:
Originally posted by Caterwauller:
quote:
Now I reply, "I'm just advertizing."

How's that workin out for ya?

Not too good.

Tinman
 
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<Asa Lovejoy>
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quote:
Originally posted by tinman:
quote:
Originally posted by Caterwauller:
quote:
Now I reply, "I'm just advertizing."

How's that workin out for ya?

Not too good.

Tinman


As you know, back before most people could read, merchants informed people of their trade by displaying a sign showing what they did. Maybe if you were to join the Society for Creative Anachronism, your display would attract the right kind of people. Razz

In my own case, I'd only be displaying my shortcomings. Frown
 
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In college, I had the bad (though not surprising) habit of arriving to class JUST in time. Being one of the last to arrive, I was often sitting front row, center. One day my Religion professor arrived to class XYZ . . . and out of compassion for him I told him. I couldn't see any skin - just shirt tail . . . we were both rather embarrassed, though (as was my friend, sitting right beside me). I just couldn't sit through the entire lecture with the possibility of learning more about him than he intended.


*******
"Happiness is not something ready made. It comes from your own actions.
~Dalai Lama
 
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Maybe he was just advertizing, too!

Tinman
 
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quote:
Originally posted by tinman:
You must be young, CW. My kids said "XYZ," (examine your zipper) but my generation said "Your barn door's open." Now I reply, "I'm just advertizing."


we would say 'you're flying low' when i was a kid! LOL, not hard to guess why.

also, for a slip/underskirt showing, my mum always says 'Charlie's dead'... why?! xx
 
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quote:
Originally posted by hepburn26:
also, for a slip/underskirt showing, my mum always says 'Charlie's dead'... why?! xx

That's a good question. I've never heard the phrase, but I found out that both "Charlie's dead" and "Queen Anne's dead" mean "Your slip (or petticoat) is showing." David, on another forum (Sat Aug 28, 2004 2:09 pm), suggested that "Charlie's dead" was a reference to Bonnie Prince Charlie, who liked to wear lace. Queen Anne also had a penchant for lace, or so I've heard. Petticoats make the skirt stand out, and the hems of them also show. Could both "Charlie's dead" and "Queen Anne's dead" mean that showing lace (petticoat, slip, etc.) is out of style?

Tinman
 
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oh how interesting!

that would make sense! must tell my ma... xx
 
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I am reminded of the old euphemism for "your slip is showing": "It's snowing down South."
 
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Yes, Saranita, I remember it, too. It's interesting that women don't wear slips anymore...or at least very few do. I wonder if that will ever change, though I doubt that it will.
 
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I hope we never go back to wearing slips - they're icky. Is there a euphemism for telling a lady when her skirt is stuck in her pantyhose?


*******
"Happiness is not something ready made. It comes from your own actions.
~Dalai Lama
 
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A couple of go-to-the-bathroom euphemisms that occur to me:

• (Ladies) I've got to go powder my nose.
• (Gents) I'm going to see what the boys in the back room will have.

Then there's British "spend a penny"

David
 
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Now this is something I can relate to... LOL We used to play games with bathroom euphemisms.

I've got to see a man about a dog.
Time to squeeze the weasel.
Looking something up in the catalogue.
Time to pay the rent.
 
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quote:
I am reminded of the old euphemism for "your slip is showing": "It's snowing down South."

I always thought "your slip is showing" was a euphemism.
What precisely was the purpose of a garment whose only purpose was to be hidden by other garments?
 
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Ah, the good old days. When I was a girl, nice young women wore skirts or dresses. And heaven forbid that their legs should show, as in when they stood with the sun behind them. Hence the slip or petticoat. Once an item design to fluff out the skirts and protect hems from dust, it became a modesty thang. I hated them. Half skirts always hung lower, full slips were never right on the top creating a constant hassle with shoulder straps. They rated right up there with girdles, which a proper young lady always wore so that (gawdess forbid!) she would not jiggle.
 
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quote:
Originally posted by neveu:
What precisely was the purpose of a garment whose only purpose was to be hidden by other garments?

What's the purpose of wearing clothes, anyway? As far as I can see, the purposes all fit into one or more of three categoties: comfort (protection from elements, etc.), modesty (gotta protect our morals), and fashion (must look good, and hide all that fat).

Tinman
 
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I read about a great euphemism today for "detention":

"Compulsory opportunity sessions designed to redirect behaviors that are interfering with my potential for success."

Not bad...15 words for 1. Wink
 
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quote:
Originally posted by jo:
Now this is something I can relate to... LOL We used to play games with bathroom euphemisms.

Looking something up in the catalogue.


I wonder if this one has to do with the "fact" that outhouses were equipped with the Sears & Roebuck catalogue (several inches thick in the wayback when) both as reading matter and for cleaning up afterwards ...

David
 
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quote:
"Compulsory opportunity sessions designed to redirect behaviors that are interfering with my potential for success."


Compulsory opportunity?
 
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quote:
Originally posted by jo:
See a man about a dog: I think it means go to the bathroom. I wonder where the heck that came from?


Isn't 'go to the bathroom' yet another euphemism for 'seeing a man about a dog'; or, 'going for a leak'?
 
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More euphenisms for going to the bog:
"I'm off to check the plumbing"
"I'm gonna go and splash my boots"
"I'm off to syphon the python"
And one from Richard's neck of the woods:
"I'm off for a Jimmy" (from Jimmy Riddle- get it?).
 
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"Shake hands with the unemployed" is popular with those of us of an uncertain age :-(


Richard English
 
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Ha! I've not heard that one before, RE. LOL

Is that used in the States, too, or just in the UK? Anyone know?


*******
"Happiness is not something ready made. It comes from your own actions.
~Dalai Lama
 
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<Asa Lovejoy>
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It's very common! Where have you been, CW? Uh, well, with your plumbing, it's not an apt expression, as you'd have a bit of trouble "shaking hands" with it, but it's been around in the USA for many years. It's often used a a mild jibe, as in, "Gonna go shake hands with the unemployed?" to someone who's heading towards the potty.
 
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quote:
Originally posted by Erik Johansen:
More euphenisms for going to the bog:

"I'm off for a Jimmy" (from Jimmy Riddle- get it?).


One of my favourites, and a very old one. But, I am not sure that all our US friends are familiar with 'rhyming slang', though Bill Bryson is a great enthusiast. Perhaps a thread for the future.
 
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Oh yes, we've talked about rhyming slang before, and I would imagine I'm not the only one who keeps the dictionary bookmarked. I especially like the translator feature.

Blimey! I think it's one ov da funniest websites, an' i' 'as made me laugh every time I visit. Nuff said, yeah?


*******
"Happiness is not something ready made. It comes from your own actions.
~Dalai Lama
 
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