What would you like to do?
What is the origin of the phrase be there or be square?
These days, calling someone asquare is just another way of saying they're unhip or "not with it." However, the definition used to be a lot different. According to Phrase Finder, a square used to mean "an honest or direct person." The expressions "fair and square" and "square meal" are likely offshoots. The shapely saying didn't take a turn for the nerdy until the 1920s. World Wide Words explains that during the '20s, people who didn't dig jazz were sometimes called squares. Jazz legend Thelonious Monk actually adopted the middle name "Sphere." Later, after World War II, the word took on its current, more broad definition, as in "Sheesh, that guy's such a square." The etymology experts believe the word's meaning changed gradually from honest to "boringly conventional." The expression "Be there or be square" is sort of a half-joking ultimatum that works because it rhymes. It probably originated in the U.S. during the '40s or '50s and was made popular by the whole James Dean "Rebel Without a Cause" vibe, which preached that being square was about as uncool as you could get.
Was this answer useful?
Thanks for the feedback!
Square Meal - Bed & Board explained . In Medieval times and later periods meals were often served on square wooden plates called Trenchers or platters, commonly known as a …board.. They were usually made out of a hardwood like maplewood so they didn't absorb the gravy & taint the next meal. There was a round groove lathe-cut into the centre of the board to hold the stew or gravy & often a small round groove drilled at the side of the platter to hold salt. You ate your meal with a knife & spoon, dipping meat into the salt.. Where poor people may go without a meal often, sitting down to a proper meal on a board, (or 'square meal'), was a good thing - if you were getting your 3 square meals a day, you were doing very well for yourself.. Just to confuse things, board also meant the dining table.. There are naval links as well, square wooden trencher plates were used on-board ships as they didn't slide around as easily as circular plates, for sailors & press-ganged men they would have looked forward to a good square meal between their watches.. If you went to an Inn for somewhere to sleep and food, you'd ask for 'bed & board'.. Trencher is thought to originate from the French language where 'trancher' meant to cut, you'd cut the meat on your board.. Before wooden trenchers came into common use, the trencher was made of bread, so that gravy soaked into the bread & you ate the plate as well, certainly saved on the washing up!. See what they looked like at; http://www.keeleyhire.co.uk/item.php?id=3582
"Plumb" refers to a "plumb-bob," a device used to make sure that a building is built straight up-and-down (not leaning). "Plumb straight" means "completely straight." In that… way "plumb forgot" came to mean "completely forgot."
I got interested in this when reading a historical novel set in 1860s New York. The heroine wnet out on her birthday, alone, with a couple of dollars "mad money". I wond…ered what the origin of the phrase might be. I found an article that explained it. "Mad Money: A Semantic Change" by George Javor in American Speech, Vol. 50, No. 1/2, (Spring - Summer, 1975),. Apparently "mad money" was "noted as early as 1922 by Howard J. Savage (Dialect Notes 5: 148) at the end of an article on Bryn Mawr slang. Savage's definition is 'money a girl carries in case she has a row with her escort and wishes to go home alone.' " But it developed a second meaning: "By 1946, a second meaning of the term had been recorded by C. M. Woodard ("A Word-List from Virginia and North Carolina," PADS, no. 6, pp. 4-43). He gave the meaning already noted ('money taken along by a girl on a date to be used in case she falls out with her companion and wants to come home early,' p. 20), and then added: 'Also money used by a girl or woman for small purchases.' Among general dictionaries, Webster's Third was the first to record the term with both meanings. Its definitions are 'carfare carried by a girl on a date to provide a means of escaping her escort in the event of unwanted familiarities; broadly: a small sum carried by a woman for emergency use.' The second definition is similar to Woodard's, but it relates the sum used for "small purchases" to the sense of emergency implicit in the older meaning." The author then gave some of his students a "questionnaire that they completed asked: "What is your definition of mad money? If you know the term in more than one meaning, give both." An overwhelming number, 92 percent, gave as their answers a definition that is different from either of those in the dictionaries. This new meaning of mad money may be phrased thus: 'money to be spent FOOLISHLY, for some- thing you DON'T NEED, on the SPUR OF THE MOMENT or FRIVOLOUSLY, indeed CRAZILY.' One or more of the emphasized concepts appeared in practically every answer." Javor points out that the meanings of "mad" from angry to crazy allow this drift. His article was written in 1975. I wonder what "mad money" can mean now!
a parallelogram with four congruent sides
Although the general consensus to the origin of "Dressed to the Nines" is unknown; consider the meaning to be simply a reference of scale. " On a scale of one to ten; you are …dressed to the nines" Since perfection can never be attained, nine would be the absolute best. The plural version on nine "Nines" is nothing more than people trying to make more of the number nine and fractionalizing it for further impact. With this definition in mind, every use of the term would make sense. The phrases 'to the nines', or 'to the nine', were used to indicate perfection - the highest standards. That was in use in the 18th century, as here from William Hamilton's Epistle to Ramsay, 1719: How to the nines they did content me. In fact, the earliest reference of "to the nine" may not have been "to the nine" at all. A phrase similar to "to the nine" appears in a translation of Voyages de Jehan de Mandeville chevalier, which appeared anonymously in France circa 1357 and is attributed to Sir John Mandeville. In the English translation of this work is found the line: Sir king! ye shall have war without peace, and always to the nine degree, ye shall be in subjection of your enemies, and ye shall be needy of all goods. The original work was written in Anglo-Norman French and is much translated. Whether the 'to the nine' is a literal translation from the original or whether it was added by translators later, and possibly as late as 1900, isn't clear. It doesn't seem likely that the phrase existed in English as early as the 14th century, not to appear again in print until the 18th century. However, it should be noted that the French word for the number nine is neuf, but neuf is also the French word meaning "new" in the sense of being brand new. It is therefore possible that when translating the passage above, the correct literary translation might have been: Sir king! ye shall have war without peace, and always to the newest degree, ye shall be in subjection of your enemies, and ye shall be needy of all goods. In this case "to the newest degree" would refer to facing an enemy with the latest, never before seen weapons and strategies for war. Therefore, it could have been a simple translation error that led to the expression "to the nine." 'To the nines' has now gone out of use and only persists in the more specific 'dressed to the nines' (or sometimes 'dressed up to the nines'). Dressed to the nines, or dressed up to the nines are merely a version of the phrase that is applied to clothing. That is first cited in John C. Hotten's A Dictionary of Modern Slang, Cant, and Vulgar Words, 1859 as: DRESSED UP TO THE NINES', in a showy 'recherché' manner. Many theories abound as to what prompted the phrase to be used in reference to dress. The fact that the prior phrase to the nines had been in existence for at least 150 years before we see dressed to the nines makes it obvious that the derivation of the variant version of the phrase need have had no connection with the number nine. Despite this, various attempts have been made to guess at the origin. One has it that tailors used nine yards of material to make a suit (or according to some authors a shirt). The more material you had the more status, although nine yards seems generous even for a fop. Another commonly repeated explanation comes from the reportedly smart uniforms of the The Wiltshire Regiment (Duke of Edinburgh's) 99th Foot, which was raised in 1824. The problem with these explanations is that they come with zero hard evidence to support them, apart from a reference to the number nine (or even 99, which seems to be stretching the cloth rather thinly). The regiment was raised in the early 19th century, which is the right sort of date for the phrase to begin to be used in the middle of that century. It is at least plausible that the to the nines phrase was matched with the 99 of the regiment's name to and reputation to coin dressed to the nines. As we have seen ad nauseam with similar attempts to explain "the whole nine yards," there are many things that come in groups of nine. Almost anything associated with the number has been at some point put forward as the origin of this phrase. The fact is, we aren't sure. While no one knows the origin of 'to the nines' it is worth noting that nine has been used as a superlative in other contexts. Classical mythology gave us the nine Muses of arts and learning. The Nine Worthies were drawn from the mythology, history and the Bible. This distinguished group was Joshua, David, Judas Maccabæus, Hector, Alexander, Julius Cæsar, Arthur, Charlemagne, and Godfrey of Bouillon. We also have the nine days' wonder. Also known as a 'ninety-day wonder' for quickened passage of rank-rising military officers in times of war. All of the above would have been well-known when this phrase was coined. A more recent link between nine and excellence is 'cloud nine'. A further reference and possibly the origin is found in Naval uniforms. Uniforms are always referred to by numbers. The number 9 uniform or "Number Nines" has changed in definition over time and in some cases has been described as canvas like material as stiff as boards, and at others as "9's: White front and white shorts, worn with white top cap. Equivalent of 3's in whites ". A further description is [No 9 : White Dress, single breasted fully buttoned white tunic, white top cap, white shoes, medals] The U.S Navy does not use this system.
Treading the boards, meaning to act in a play, originated in travelling theatrical troupes, who would erect temporary stages by laying boards flat on a low platform to elevate… the actors so a large group could see all the action.
According to the Scots language dictionary 'jenny' can be sued to describe 'a lot of'. So a tea jenny is someone who drinks a lot of tea. I was called this as a small child.
The saying "falling asleep" originates from the old english saying "ye old falleth to thine laying box" in which the sensation was developed of feeling like you are fallin…g through the air.
It originates from Ireland, and is generally used by Irish immigrants. I've often caught my English teacher, who was born in Ireland, saying "Thank you kindly", which gives aw…ay her Irish heritage. (Though her lilting accent is blatantly obvious, not to mention she listed her hobbies as "Irish dancing and stealing gold from leprechauns"...)
1996 Summer Olympics when Kerri Strug was preparing to do a vault with a broken ankle, the camera flashed to her coach, Bela Karolyi shouting "You can do it!" With a Russian a…ccent. It was parodied shortly thereafter by numerous Adam Sandler films, most recognizably Rob Sneider's line in "The Water Boy".
The expression goes back to the theater of Shakespeare's time, when men criticized the acting by making noises that sounded like a fence full of cats.
I believe it originated with food. A nut can be dipped in chocolate, allowed to cool, and then dipped again for a thicker coating of chocolate. Double dipping has come to me…an getting more than your share, or getting paid twice for the same time or service. Someone who retires and then draws a pension, plus gets paid as a consultant related to their previous work is called a double-dipper. People who work on commission sometimes get paid for managing a client's account, and also get a commission for the buying or selling they do for the client. This is called double dipping and in some cases is unethical or illegal. In financial terms, double-dipping is when you get paid twice for the same work, get reimbursed twice for the same expense, or get paid twice from the same source (pension plus consulting). Example: Your employer sends you on a trip and pays for the expenses and then you deduct the cost of the travel as a business-related expense from your taxes - illegal! Back to food, in an episode of Seinfeld, George dips a chip in the communal dip bowl, bites off the covered portion and then dips the chip a second time. Another party goer has a fit because George's double-dipping is spreading germs. Where double dipping in other situations created higher quality, or richer food (double-dipped chocolates, or double batter dipped fried chicken), double dipping chips was ruining the food (dip). His behavior was considered rude, unethical or immoral. George is called a double-dipper as a derogatory epithet. A fight ensued.
From the U.S. Navy publication Nomenclature of Ships (John Snelling, 1981), the phrase "son of a gun" is described as: : In an attempt to keep down the large number… of deserters in the British Navy, the sailors were kept on board their ships while in English ports. But "wives" were allowed on board; one per man, with no questions asked. Cramped conditions on the ships caused the "ladies" to sling their hammocks between the guns in the 'tween decks. The phrase "son of a gun" originated here. In fact, the expression questioned the legitimacy of anyone. The old definition of a man-o'-war's man was "Begotten in the galley and born under a gun. Every hair a rope yarn, every tooth a marlin's spike, each finger a fishhook and in his blood, right good Stockholm tar." However, the actual origin might just be another nautical myth.
The origin is actually in terms of theater. When an actor/actress is supposed to cry in a particular scene they use the term "To make Crocodile Tears". Since crocodile's can't… cry, it's sort of an inside slang between people of the theater. (The only way for Crocodile's to cry is for them to fake it).
Wikipedia describes the English idiom "down to earth" as meaning "practical and realistic", implying a stable footing for one's behaviour. It's not difficult to i…magine how the phrase came about if you think of it as having the same origins as "keep your feet on the ground". If you jump up in the air, it's not a stable position... gravity rather gets in the way and brings you... "down to earth" Think of all the phrases meaning having or finding stability which are rooted in the same idea (actually even the word "rooted" implies the same thing): "He's a down to earth kinda guy", "Keeping your feet on the ground", "Coming back down to earth", "That idea is grounded in reality (the emphasis being on grounded here)" ...or those which imply instability by being away from planet Earth "That's all up in the air", "Head in the clouds" etc.
Meaning: eager to listen; attentive Origin: The ear is the organ by which a person hears. So, if we figuratively say that "you are all ears," it means that at that moment yo…u are keenly listening to whatever is being said. It's as if no other part of your body mattered except your ears. This idiom is about three centuries old. Waiting with excitement to hear what the person has to say. Example: "You said you had something important to tell me. I'm all ears!"
*The CEO was angry with the Manager. She laid him out in lavender. The lavender flower is well-known for its aroma. At funerals, this flower was placed close to the coff…in in order to hide the smell of the body. In the past, in order to transfer the wonderful smell of the flower onto their clothes, ladies would beat their freshly washed laundry with the branches of the plant. The original meaning of 'lay someone out in lavender' was to beat a person till he became unconscious. With the passage of time, the beating became more verbal than physical.