Jun 20, 2019

Random Thursday

Just one more week of this chapter on Words in The Little Book of Answers by Doug Lennox! After next week, we'll dive into Expressions. That should prove intriguing!

(image borrowed from BBC)
 When things are chaotic and noisy it's referred to being a "bedlam" and this expression is a medieval slang pronunciation of "Bethlehem." It's been used to describe a mad uproar back when London had a hospital for the insane. In 1547 St. Mary in Bethlehem was incorporated as the Royal Foundation for Lunatics. Since you could only ever hear noises and likely cries coming from the hospital, they could only imagine the chaos happening inside. Soon, they began referring to any noisy, out of control situation as like that in "Bedlam" aka Bethlehem hospital.

That's interesting. I honestly did not realize that "bedlam" was a word, I always thought of it as the hospital mentioned. Though now I know otherwise! Lol.

(image borrowed from Wikipedia)
When we have a bad dream, it's referred to as a "nightmare." Bad dreams come in many different levels, but the most terrifying ones can cause sensations of suffocation and paralysis. In literature, there's a tale of a female demon known as "the night hag" that (likely) sat on you and caused those feelings. "Mare" is the old English term for "demon" and shares the same root for "murder," therefore the demon or mare that comes at night earned the name "nightmare."

Gives nightmares a whole new meaning! I added the bit about the demon that sits on your chest, as I feel like that's what the stories were headed towards! There's a picture even depicting this somewhere in art history that's rather terrifying! I've experienced that dreadful feeling in the middle of the night once or twice that I can recall and it was most unpleasant...especially since Sam and Dean didn't come to help! ;)

(image borrowed from Organic Facts)
When a purchase or investment turns out to be a disappointment, it's called a "lemon" and it earned that name in 1910 when a slot machine appeared as a device to dispense gum. They had pictures of a cherry, an orange, and a plum and each wheel had a bar that read "1910 Fruit Gum." Naturally certain combinations provided a payoff, but if a lemon appeared in any row, there was no payoff. Hence the expression "It's a lemon" and its connection to disappointment.

That's interesting! I knew the expression, but not the origins! Now I feel reminiscent over the old bank slot machine my grandparents had...I remember the lemon now too! 

 (image borrowed from Wikinews)
As many dollar denominations have nicknames, a ten-dollar bill was called a "sawbuck." "Deuce" was originally a slight curse of the devil when the number two appeared in cards or dice. "Sawbuck" for a ten comes from the frame of a sawbuck or sawhorse which farmers used to hold logs to be cut into firewood. The frame rested on two supports that were shaped like X's that resembled the Roman numerals for ten that are found on the early American bill.

That's new to me information.



  1. I always thought Bedlam was just an expression, huh. You learn something every day!

  2. Such interesting tidbits! It's always cool hearing the stories behind our words.


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