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Articles: Literature
Some Facts - Expressions
- Prof. venkata ramanamurty mallajosyula
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A CHIP ON THE SHOULDER This expression, American in origin, seems to derive from a traditional form of challenge there. When spoiling for a fight, a boy or young man would issue his challenge by placing a chip of wood on one of his shoulders, jeeringly inviting his rival to try to knock it off. Anyone taking up the challenge would be aiming the first blow in a fight. DRAW A BLANK The reference here is to lottery tickets: only those motifs or words printed on them win a prize. Buy a blank ticket, and you win nothing. By coincidence, a very similar phrase – to draw a blank-was used in hunting, with much the same meaning. To draw, in the language of hunting, is to scour a wood or hillside for game; to draw blank, some times to draw a blank, accordingly referred to an unsuccessful quest for quarry. Both idioms later passed into general use, though to draw a blank is now by far the more common form, to suggest a failure in any search or endeavor. KICK THE BUCKET This odd way of referring to dying has perhaps nothing at all to do with a bucket of the kind used for carrying milk or water. Bucket in the phrase ‘kick the bucket’ is an obsolete word borrowed from Old French, for the wooden beam or frame from which a live pig or other animal would be suspended in the abattoir. When slaughtered, the pig would jerk spasmodically in the throes of death, and bang its trotters against the beam- in other words, kick the bucket. But the familiar household bucket or pail may, after all, feature in the origin of the phrase. An equally grisly theory derives kick the bucket from the supposed technique of suicides. Someone attempting suicide by hanging might std on an upturned bucket, fit his head into the noose, and kick the bucket away. BLUE BLOOD This strange term for noble birth or aristocratic descent is a direct translation of the Spanish sanger azul. In Spain a pale complexion used to be considered a sign of pure breeding- unmixed by Moorish stock from the long Moorish occupation of Spain and tended to be associated accordingly with aristocratic families. Since the bluish veins of the temple or wrist showed conspicuously through fair skin, the idea of blue blood developed as a hall mark of the nobility.

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