Top Cat’s Tuesday Top 10: Greatest Male Body Builders of all Time

 

Upon seeing the word Buff in The Daily Post today, my first thought was body building. I Frederick_Winters_during_1904_Summer_Olympicshave been in love with the world of weight lifting and body building since I was a young boy. The 80s were fueled by larger than life characters. Cartoons characters like He-Man (my personal favorite) and Thundercats; wrestlers like Hulk Hogan and the Ultimate Warrior; or actors like Sylvester Stallone, Dolph Lundgren, or Arnold Scwarzenegger were enough to cause the most mentally strong among us to develop body dysmorphia. Getting back to our friend Arnold. He wasn’t just known as his work in Conan or the Terminator…no no no. Arnold was a champion bodybuilder. When we finally got HBO in the 80s, I watched a little documentary about the unknown sport of bodybuilding: Pumping Iron. Pumping Iron was released in 1977 and there is no doubt that it launched Arnold’s popularity into the mainstream, but it also brought light into a sport that was very misunderstood.

Ed_Fury_and_Jackie_Coey,_1953

With the advent of social media and video platforms like Youtube, bodybuilding is an ever growing and ever changing sport. Bodybuilding is defined as “the use of progressive resistance exercise to control and develop one’s musculature,” while an “individual who engages in this activity is called a bodybuilder.” These bodybuilders appear in lineups and perform specified poses for panels of judges who rank their scores based on symmetry, muscularity, and conditioning. This comprehensive list will be throughout time and will Falk,_Benjamin_J._(1853-1925)_-_Eugen_Sandow_(1867-1925)be not necessarily be based on IFBB (International Federation of Bodybuilding) sanctioned competitions wins at the Arnold, Mr. Universe, or Mr. Olympia (which its winner is recognized as the world’s top male professional bodybuilder); but will be based on a combination of their aesthetics, physiques, training regiment/work ethic, and over all influence on the sport. Bodybuilding developed in the late 19th century but traditional stone-lifting traditions were practiced in ancient Egypt, Greece and Ireland whie weightlifting developed in Europe in the late 1800s. Strongman feats of strength for public display was to showcase their strength while bodybuilding is based on the muscularity and one’s physique. The “Father of Modern Bodybuilding” would be considered Eugen Sandow and he even organized the first bodybuilding contest on September 14, 1901 which was called the “Great Competition”. Though I do list Sandow on my list of greatest bodybuilders, Sandow’s lasting impression on the world of bodybuilding is seen every year when “The Sandow” (a trophy in his likeness) is presented to the winner of the Mr. Olympia contest.

So with that being said, I present to you Top Cat’s Top 10: Greatest Male Bodybuilders of all time. 



Honorable mentions:

Franco Columbu – At only 5’4″, Franco Columbu accomplished a lot in the world of bodybuilding. The two time Mr. Olympia and former World’s Strongest Man competitor did not let his height stand in the way of his domination of anything that he put his mind to.

Frank Zane – Frank Zane ruled the bodybuilding world from 1977 to 1979, when he won the overall Mr. Olympia title all three years. Besides being one of three men to have beaten Arnold Schwarzenegger in a bodybuilding competition and being one of the few Olympia winners under 200 lbs; Zane became known as “The Chemist” due to his supplement and amino acid use back in the day. It also could have also had something to do with the fact that the math and science teacher received a bachelor of science degree from Wilkes University in 1964 and a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Cal State in 1977.



branch warren

10. Branch Warren – I began repping House of Pain workout gear around 2002; when I began to be serious about my weight lifting. At that time Branch Warren was beginning to be a big name in weight lifting and his sponsorship through House of Pain brought images of a bald headed brute doing dips with 240 lbs of chains around his neck to the homepage. As time grew, I would watch his videos and modify my workout plans because of his results in certain areas. He was and is a huge motivation for me in regards to weight lifting. Oh. I got so caught up with my stuff that I forgot to mention that he has placed within the top 10 at the Mr. Olympia competition 8 times, won the Arnold Classic 2 times and has countless other show wins/accolades. His bare bones, heavy weight lifting regiment is criticized by some because of the risk of injury but it has gotten him the results to place him amongst the greatest.


Phil_Heath

9. Phil Heath – The current and 6-time Mr. Olympia has placed first in every competition from 2011 to 2016. The multi-time champion is a Seattle, Washington native and is known as the Gift. Whether he is known as the gifted because he is gifted or because he has been ‘gifted’ a lot of things in the sport is of much debate to number 8, Kai Greene. I don’t like him, but I have to give credit where credit is due. He is a great bodybuilder and is definitely influential. Okay. That’s all the nice things that I’ll say about him.


Kai_Greene_IFBB_2009_Australia_5

8. Kai Greene – The soft-spoken, philosophical bodybuilder is known for his eccentric ways; but the ‘mind-muscle connection’ bodybuilding technique, as well as the utilization of his self-portraits allows Green to maintain his ideal physique. The avid artist is a formidable influence in the world of body building.


Flex_Wheeler_Auto_Photo

7. Flex Wheeler – Despite the former police officer being known for his arrogant behavior in the world of bodybuilding, his multi decade influence on the sport cannot be denied. Fellow bodybuilder Ronnie Coleman stated that Flex Wheeler was the ‘best bodybuilder that he ever competed against’ while Arnold Schwarzenegger said that he was one of the greatest body builders that he had ever seen. His amateur titles starting coming in as early as 1985 while his professional titles started in 1993 and didn’t stop until 2003. Flex even hinted at a comeback during the 2017 season. I guess the bodybuilding world hasn’t seen the last of Flex.


Jay_Cutler_bodybuilder_2008-crop

6. Jay Cutler – No. Not the former Chicago Bears Quarterback Jay Cutler. I’m talking about the blond highlighted, 4-time Mr. Olympia who made being a bodybuilder look cool. He lives in Las Vegas, drives a Rolls Royce, ate sushi, and talked about his fancy watches. Jay Cutler embraced his financial success and made weight lifting look cool. He has since retired from competition but his business ventures still working towards building a better future for the body building world.


lee haney

5. Lee Haney – The former Chairman of the President’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sports is a devout Christian with a TV show on the Trinity Broadcasting Network who shares the title of most Mr. Olympia title wins with Ronnie Coleman (8 total). He spoke of clean living and clean eating and said that, “(i)t takes more than just a good looking body. You’ve got to have the heart and soul to go with it.” Between his training regiment and rich spiritual outlook, the bodybuilding great deserves his place amongst the greatest.


dorian yates

4. Dorian Yates – I just want to go on record (as much as it may matter) that Dorian Yates has/had the best back physique in the business. Despite his controversial political stances, the six time Mr. Olympia will forever be remembered as one of the top bodybuilders in history.


Dexter_Jackson_IFBB_2008_Australia_4

3. Dexter Jackson – Dexter Jackson aka the Blade only won the Mr. Olympia title one but he holds the distinction of winning a record-setting 28 IFBB professional bodybuilding titles and as of 2016 has made a record-setting 17 Mr. Olympia appearances. He won the Arnold Classic five times (which is more than anyone else) and is one of only three bodybuilders EVER to have won both the Mr. Olympia and the Arnold Classic bodybuilding competitions. He is also one of the oldest bodybuilders to ever win an open IFBB pro show at the age of 46. Jackson has competed and has been winning since 1992 and it doesn’t seem like he shows any sign of stopping since in 2015, he placed 2nd at the Mr. Olympia competition.


ronnie coleman

2. Ronnie Coleman – “YEAH BUDDY!” It wasn’t ‘nothing but a peanut’ for Ronnie Coleman to win the Mr. Olympia title eight years in a row. Through hard work and determination he is now regarded as one of the greatest of all time (and not just by me). Ronnie Coleman’s 26 record winning victories in IFBB sanctioned competitions were won by his rigorous training. He wasn’t afraid of hard work and loved utilizing free weights to maximize flexibility and be able to have a free range of motion. Early in my weight lifting days, I remember watching his videos and the comical videos that he made to show the food he ate. I’ll never forget his love of ketchup and BBQ sauce. I still use that excuse with my wife when we are dieting: “Ronnie Coleman drank soda and used BBQ sauce on his food and he won Mr. Olympia 8 times!”


Arnold_Schwarzenegger_1974

  1. Arnold Schwarzenegger – Arnold Schwarzenegger isn’t just a retired body builder. He is an actor, producer, businessman, investor, author, philanthropist, activist, politician, as well as a 7 time Mr. Olympia winner. The two term Governor of California is widely considered the greatest bodybuilder of all time, but he is body buildings icon. Pumping Iron put body building on the map, and Arnold was the poster boy. His legacy is commemorated every year when the Arnold Classic is held. The IFBB Arnold Sports Festival is a multi-sport event consisting of bodybuilding (the Arnold Classic), strongman (Arnold Strongman Classic), fitness, figure and bikini competitions. The event is the second most prestigious event in professional bodybuilding, physique, figure, and bikini competitions. Many of my top ten have won the Arnold Classic: Branch Warren, Kai Greene, Dexter Jackson, Jay Cutler, Ronnie Coleman, and Flex Wheeler). With that being said, the Austrian Oak is and always will be an important fixture in the world of bodybuilding. From his physique to his training to his positivity in the sport; Arnold is the greatest of all time.


Images:

Featured Image: Eugen Sandow image by Benjamin J. Falk, wikipedia.

Fredrick Winters during the 1904 Summer Games image attributed to unknown, olympic.org.

Model Jackie Coey with Mr. Los Angeles contestant Ed Fury in 1953 image; original uploader was Tillman at English Wikipedia – Los Angeles Times photographic archive, UCLA LibraryPublication: Los Angeles Daily NewsTransferred from en.wikipedia to Commons., Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=48344990

Frank Zane image accredited to http://www.flickr.com/photos/d_vdm/ – http://www.flickr.com/photos/d_vdm/508414155/, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=14702262

Jay Cutler Bodybuilder 2008 image by and accredited to robbdenderivative work: Nesnad (talk) – Jay_Cutler_bodybuilder_2008.jpg, CC BY 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=6869850

Kai Greene 2009 IFBB Australian Pro Grand Prix IX image by and accredited to LocalFitness Pty Ltd (LocalFitness) – http://www.localfitness.com.au, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=8132125

Flex Wheeler Autographed photo by and accredited to EnigmaGemini1975 – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=47574592

Dexter Jackson IFBB 2008 Australia 4 image by and accredited to http://www.localfitness.com.au – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=3687963

Ronnie Coleman 8 x Mr Olympia 2009 Melbourne, VIC, Australia image by and accredited to http://www.localfitness.com.au – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=8138844

Arnold Schwarzenegger before defending the title for his fifth Mr. Olympia contest in 1974 image by and accredited to Madison Square Garden Center – RMY Auctions, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=50792011

All other images used are from Google search engine and are attributed to fair use.

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Just in the Nick of Time: A History of Interesting Idioms and Colloquial Phrases – Part 4

We are now venturing onto the 4th blog in our ten part series. If you missed out; you can visit their magnanimous wonder (1, 2, and, 3) after you have read number this one of course. In part four of our Just in the Nick of Time: A History of Interesting Idioms and Colloquial Phrases series, we will be learning the history of: For Pete’s sake, Quitting cold turkey, High on the hog, Dead as a doornail, Down to Earth, and Taking a raincheck.



For_petes_sake

“For Pete’s Sake” – 

Origin: We all have heard someone from the American South (whether in person or on TV) say “For Pete’s Sake”; but have you, like I, wondered who in the world Pete is? Well as your face radiates with magnanimous wonder awaiting the origin of this much used word, I have to regretfully tell you that…no one really knows. The Oxford English Dictionary says that the saying started more than century ago as a euphemistic variant of “for God’s sake”. As we said in our last idiom blog, ‘dog gone’ is a replacement for something that take’s the Lord’s name in vain and most people of that period (and currently as well) would steer clear of blasphemy. Some scholars have speculated that the ‘Pete’ is none other than Saint Peter himself but that is just speculation. Another speculation is the pete is actually a modified version of ‘for pity’s sake’ but as I said…regretfully no one knows for sure.

Meaning: An exclamation of emphasis, surprise, or disbelief.



ColdTurkey

“Quitting Cold Turkey”

Origin: One of my best friends who smoked cigarettes since he was 13 said he had ‘just quit cold turkey’. And I knew that that friend meant that he had stopped smoking cigarettes…and not just given up eating cold sliced deli meat but I still can’t help but chuckle when I hear someone say that phrase. There have been many explanations as to the origin of why someone would compare ‘quitting’ or doing something definite with of all things…cold turkey. In 1921, Dr. Carleton Simon spoke about his pitiful patients and described their ‘cold turkey’ treatment. I guess if you’re hungry, a cold turkey treatment sounds great but what if you are a recovering heroin addict? Herb Caen, from the San Fransisco Chronicle says that the saying “…derives from the hideous combination of goosepimples and what William S. Burroughs calls the ‘cold burn’ that addicts suffer as they kick the habit.” Sounds like a more logical explanation than author Tom Philbin’s theory that the saying derives from the ‘term that  may derive from the cold, clammy feel of the skin during withdrawl, like a turkey that has been refrigerated.” The only draw back to this explanation is that the saying originated many years before it was used in conjunction with ‘stopping an addiction’. Though the term was used early in the 1900s, the term cold turkey is thought to have derived from the 1800s phrase ‘talk turkey’. Talk turkey meant to tell something plainly, while being cold meant to be straightforward and use a matter-of-fact tone. So whether it is cigarettes or stopping playing video games until 3 in the morning when you have to be at work at 7:30…stopping something cold turkey means that you are immediately stopping something despite the discomfort that comes along with it.

Meaning: Withdraw from an addictive substance or other dependency.



“High on the Hog”

Origin: We all know someone who is living ‘high on the hog’ but what does that exactly mean? Despite the saying ‘living high on the hog’ becoming popularized in the 1940s, the saying originated in the 1800s as an idiomatic expression for someone who is eating or living wealthy. We take advantage of the common convenience of the grocery store and the competitive prices found at Food Lion or Walmart; but many years ago, the only way to eat meat was to slaughter the animal on your own farm or to go to a butcher. On a hog, the most costly cuts of meat that are literally higher on the pig’s body are more expensive. The ‘low on the hog’ items like the feet, knuckles, hocks, belly, chitterlings, snout, jowls, etc were lower priced and therefore were purchased by poor people. So if you were rich, you were quite literally eating…high on the hog.

Meaning: Living comfortably and living/eating extravagantly.



“Dead as a Doornail” – 

Origin: In King Henry VI, Part 2; Shakespeare wrote, “Look on me well…if I do not leave you all as dead as a doornail, I pray God I may never eat grass more.” It would seem that a lot of emphasis was placed on the life of a doornail prior to 1592, but Shakespeare wasn’t the first to coin the phrase. In 1350, French poet William Langland translated a poem using the phrase “I am ded as dorenayl,” and later in 1362 wrote in his famous poem The Vision of William Concerning Piers Plowman, “Fey withouten fait is febelore þen nouȝt, And ded as a dore-nayl (which is translated to be “Faith without works is feebler than nothing, and dead as a doornail.”). It is logical that Shakespeare got the influence from Langland’s poetry but where did the expression come from prior to the 1300s? In A Christmas Carol, Charles Dickens alluded to the meaning of the phrase after he stated that “Old Marley was as dead as a door-nail” when he said:

“Mind! I don’t mean to say that I know, of my own knowledge, what there is particularly dead about a door-nail. I might have been inclined, myself, to regard a coffin-nail as the deadest piece of ironmongery in the trade. But the wisdom of our ancestors is in the simile; and my unhallowed hands shall not disturb it, or the Country’s done for. You will therefore permit me to repeat, emphatically, that Marley was as dead as a door-nail.”

Dickens knew, as we will in a few moments, that a doornail was actually the large-headed studs that were used in carpentry to add stability to a home’s doorway. The doornail was produced by the carpenter hammering the nail through the board, into the wall, and then bending the end over to secure it properly. This process, which is similar to riveting, was called clenching.  The clenching would cause the nail to be ‘dead’ due to the the fact that after the bending the nail would be unusable (dead is a term associated with inanimate objects when they are unusable or when someone is finished with them).  Despite the simile being around since the 1300s, it would appear that there is plenty of life left in this idiom.

Meaning: Absent of life, dead (when in reference to a living object). Finished with, unusable (when in reference to an inanimate object).



 

“Down to Earth” – 

Origin: The 1932 book and subsequent movie Down to Earth, is more than likely the reason behind the popularity of the phrase despite a 1922 Newark Advocate garment advertisement utilizing the phrase to describe the ‘down to earth’ prices as opposed to the ‘astronomical’ prices of competitive brands. Down to Earth was a riches to rags story which ended with the wealthy man losing his wealth thanks to a spendthrift wife and a gambling son. After living the extravagant lifestyle before, he actually ends up happy in the end, because he is more ‘down to earth’

Meaning: Simple, realistic, practical and/or straightforward.



baseball rain check

“Taking a Raincheck” – 

Origin: My best friend and I were supposed to go watch a movie last weekend but I had to tell him that I had to take a rain check. It was raining coincidentally but I have always wondered what the exact meaning behind the phrase was. The first mention of the phrase ‘taking a rain check’ comes from baseball games from the 1880s. We all know that rain is something that we cannot control (or at least that’s what the government wants us to think ;)), so if a baseball game in the 1880s was rained out, then the ticket-holder would be issued a ‘rain check’ (sometimes a perforated stub to be torn from the ticket as popularized by Abner Powell) to be able to gain entrance to another game or when that game was replayed. Baseball’s National League actually wrote the ‘rain check’ stipulation into their formal constitution in 1890. The ‘rain check’ phrase caught on. The phrase is now used for simplistic things like promising to go out to eat with someone in the near future but I’ll take a rain check on writing anything else today. 😉

Meaning: Idiomatically is a polite way to turn down an invitation with the implication that you will accept the offer in the future while etymologically and literally is in reference to a physical ticket or check to receive goods of services at a future time.



Images: 

Featured Image – Our Gang in “For Pete’s Sake!” episode marker, fair use.

Cold Turkey image by and accredited to Jonathunder – Own work, GFDL, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=3465369

1939 American League Baseball Club ticket photo accredited to the Baseball Hall of Fame, Fair use.

Just in the Nick of Time: A History of Interesting Idioms and Colloquial Phrases – Part 3

The Just in the Nick of Time: A History of Interesting Idioms and Colloquial Phrases series is 3 blogs into its 10 part series. This historical linguist journey has allowed us to find out the history behind some of the most interesting idioms and kooky colloquial phrases that we use in the United States. With parts 1 and 2 already behind us, in part 3 we will find out the history behind: “Clear as a bell”, “Cut from the same cloth”, “I’ll be dog gone”, “Getting a leg up”, “Horse of a different color”, and “Cat got your tongue”.



sonora-phonograph-feb-1920-ottawa-citizen

“Clear as a bell”

Origin: In Much Ado About Nothing, Shakespeare said that “He hath a heart as sound as a bell, and his tongue is the clapper…,” so the comparison and utilization of the sound of bells in spoken and written literature has a long history. Bells have been found by archaeologists in sites dating back to the 3rd millennium BC throughout China, so to say that the bell has been around for a long time is an understatement. The bells for  the early Chinese workers were used to signify times of work and for religious reasons. Christians also use bells atop their churches and bells of all kinds are known to be large and loud. The sound can be heard for great distances and a single bell is distinct and unmistakeable. Before electric sirens and amplifiers, bells were used to signal people of events because the bell could be heard over the great distances. By 1910, phonographs were all the rage. Advertising was important to these companies to differentiate themselves from others; and the Sonora Chime Company chose to ring out above the rest with the slogan: “Clear as a Bell”.

Meaning: It is easily understood.



“Cut from the Same Cloth”

Origin: My wife is an extremely talented woman and is great at sewing and crocheting; so I know that she will love to hear where that the term “cut from the same cloth” really did come from sewing. The idiom comes from a tailor or seamstress who is making a jacket and trouser set. The two should be cut from the same skein of fabric to ensure that the two pieces will match perfectly, since fabric batches differ. Despite the pattern, a skein of fabric or yarn will differ after many runs because a color may be brighter or lighter in a future batch….therefore something that is truly alike will be ‘cut from the same cloth’.

Meaning: Individuals who are very similar in very specific ways.



“I’ll be doggone”

Origin: The etymology for the expression ‘doggone it’ or ‘I’ll be doggone’ is a euphemism for the vile adjective and noun combo: God d*mn. I know. I didn’t even want to type that because it hurts my ears to even hear it but in the 1800s (and even earlier in Scotland), doggone began as a clean deformation of the profane curse which means to be d*mn or to be d*mned (depending on the usage). The expression was written as both, “dog gone” and “dog on” throughout most of the 19th century and could be said either way…depending on where you are in the country.

Meaning: To d*mn or be d*mned.



“Getting a leg up”

Origin: It’s not what you think. When you first hear someone say ‘getting a leg up’, the 12 year old inside of you thinks that someone is talking about a male dog marking his territory. You just pictured it in your mind didn’t you? But you’d be wrong in this case. The idiom ‘getting a leg up’ actually derives from horseback riding. Specifically in the case of an equestrian receiving help to mount their horse. The helper in this case would create a foothold with their hands and would help the equestrian ‘get their leg up’ over the horse. I would much rather picture this…than image a dog peeing.

Meaning: To receive a boost or an advantage in position



“Horse of a different color”

Origin: Here we find ourselves talking about everyone’s favorite equine: the horse but this phrase is a horse of a different color. That worked out perfectly. The idiom ‘horse of a different color’ originated during Medieval times. During medieval tournaments, specifically jousting, the riders rode different colored horses in the races. This would allow the spectators to be able to properly differentiate which rider they were pulling for. Historical documents have confirmed that gambling at medieval tournaments was a favorite pastime and historians have figured that the idiom originated with someone being told that the ‘horse of a different color’ was victorious. Sounds logical but we turn to Shakespeare again to confirm the idiom’s antique heritage. In Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night, Maria says to Sir Andrew, “My purpose is, indeed, a horse of that colour.” This statement means that the expression was established far before 1601.

Meaning: Another matter entirely.



“Cat got your tongue?”

Origin: I have chosen to briefly discuss the idiom “Has the cat got your tongue?” despite there not being any direct link to any specific historical event or piece of literature. The idiom is however a direct correlation to two possible scenarios. The first scenario would be that the flog from the cat-o’-nine-tails was so painful that it rendered the receiver unable to speak for long periods of time. The other possible scenario would be that in ancient Egypt, liars and blasphemers would be tortured and have their tongues cut out. The tongue would then be fed to the cats. Two definite possible scenarios that I can neither confirm nor deny the authenticity of.

Meaning: A question to someone who is at a loss for words.



Image: Sonora Chime Company “Caprice” advertisement, fair use.

Just in the Nick of Time: A History of Interesting Idioms and Colloquial Phrases – Part 2

 

The dialect, idioms and colloquial phrasesIn part one of our ten part series (Just in the Nick of Time: A History of Interesting Idioms and Colloquial Phrases – Part 1), we learned the history of some interesting idioms and colloquial phrases. In Part 2 of our series we will be covering the history behind “Strike while the iron is hot”, “Don’ t throw the baby out with the bath water”, “Down to the Wire”, “Three Sheets to the Wind”, “Down in the dumps”, and “You get the Drift”.



“Strike while the iron is hot”

Origin: The science of metallurgy has been around for thousands of years but certain terms related to this seemingly lost art have been lost throughout the years. To “strike while the iron is hot” is a term that is used heavily in our modern lexicon but few realize that the idiom is directly alluding to a metallurgy practice. A blacksmith or farrier would use a forge (a heater specialized in heating up metal) and upon heating up the piece of metal, would use specialized hammers and tools to shape the metal. If the blacksmith or farrier doesn’t strike while the piece was hot, then the metal would cool (thusly leading to it hardening) and it is impossible to shape the piece until it is heated up again.

Meaning: Take your opportunities when they arise.



Murner.Nerrenbeschwerung.kind

“Don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater.” 

Origin: “Don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater,” is a phrase that is not commonly used but we all have heard it. The obscure reference to throwing a baby out with the bathwater is an idiomatic expression derived from a bathing process many years ago where the head or Lord of the household would bathe first, followed by other men, then the lady of the house and other women, then the children, followed lastly by the baby. By the end of the bathing time, the water would be so dirty that a baby could be unseen and could be accidently ‘tossed out with the bathwater’. The practice sounds disgusting but in the 1500s, their personal hygiene practices were vastly different than our current practices. The idiom is taken from a German proverb and the earliest record of the phrase ‘throw the baby out in the bathwater was written by Thomas Murner in 1512. In his book Narrenbeschwörung (the Appeal to Fools or directly translated as the “Fool Incantation”), there is a woodcut illustration of a woman tossing a baby out with the bath water. The very common German catchphrase survived some German’s immigration to America and I guess the phrase just never left us.

Meaning: Don’t eliminate the good while trying to expel the bad.



“Down to the wire” – 

Origin: The idiom “down to the wire” actually has nothing to do with electricity as I always thought it did. I figured that it had something to do with that red wire that the bomb squad guy always had to cut. That that scenario of having something be ‘down to the wire’ was actually not the origin. The origin of the idiom was actually from the early 19th century. In official horse races, the judges would string a small wire across the track (just above the finish line) to help them to visually determine which horse won the race.

Meaning: Waiting until the last minute to do something.



“Three sheets to the wind”

Origin: We’ve all heard someone describe an extremely drunk person as being ‘three sheets to the wind’ but what exactly are they referring to? Well strangely enough the idiom is derived from sailing ships. The ‘sheet’ that they are referring to is the nautical term for the rope that controls the trim of sail. A sail is known to be ‘sheeted to the wind’ when it is set to backfill (which in nautical terminology means that it is set to the opposite side of the ship from normal use). This is bad thing. In a major storm when a ship is ‘hove to’, the helm is lashed to windward and the sails are sheeted to the windward side of the ship (aka sheeted to the wind). As the storm gets stronger, the larger ships that would have three sails, would be rock in the ocean pretty badly because it would have to be sitting sideways in the wind. The wind would be rocking it back and forth and would be in constant danger. Are you seeing the correlation yet? When a person is completely drunk; wildly rolling from side to side and not able to control themselves they are just like a ship during a storm…three sheets to the wind.

Meaning: Completely drunk.



 

“Down in the Dumps”

Origin: In our modern vernacular, a dump is a place that we go and ‘dump’ our trash; but in medieval times, the term ‘the dumps’ was not actually in reference to a place. The dumps was a commonplace expression that meant sadness and depression. Everyone from Shakespeare to Henry More have used the expression in their writing; but that still doesn’t answer the question as to how the word ‘dumps’ came to mean depression. The word Dumps has two options for its past. The first option is that of a reference to a tale of  King from Egypt who built a pyramid but died of sadness. And his name? Dumpos. This explanation is highly doubtful because this king did not actually exist and only is known through fables. The other explanation would be that England natives of that time had an extremely dense, sad looking pudding called Dumplin. So either explanation could work but there is no definitive story to make either definite.

Meaning: To be unhappy; depressed.



“You get the drift”

Origin: Since the early 1500s, the word drift has also meant purport. If you’re still not clear, the word purport means for something to appear, claim to be something or the substance of something. So the word drift meant for something to be apparent or to appear. The colloquial use of getting of catching someone’s drift is an indication for the reader or listener to not just take what is being read or heard at face value and to use inference to better understand. The term originated in a boating and to ‘catch the drift’ means for other boats to not reprieve the direction of the current, thusly they are ‘catching the drift’.

Meaning: “If you know what I mean”




Images:

Narrenbeschworung (Appeal to Fools) by Thomas Murner, 1512, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=689179

Just in the Nick of Time: A History of Interesting Idioms and Colloquial Phrases – Part 1

I’m sure that you’ve heard some sweet Southern lady say, “well bless your heart.” And based on whatever part of the United States that you are from, you have heard many interesting colloquial sayings or idioms that we use but don’t put that much thought into their actual meaning. Sadly most of us don’t put in the elbow grease to dig deep into the background and find out the actual meaning of these colorful additions to our lexicon. Well thankfully for you, I’m just nosey enough and love the English language enough to have a true conviction to want to know. Make sure you read all of the 10 part investigatory series to find out the meaning behind the most commonly used idioms in the United States.

Floor_7a_bookstacks_in_Sterling_Memorial_Library

In our first blog of the series, we’ll investigate the history behind some extremely interesting idioms and colloquial phrases: “Just in the Nick of Time“, “Well I’ll be John Brown/Browned“, “Bury the Hatchet“, “Butter someone up“, “Mad as a Hatter” and “More than you can shake a stick at”.



“Just in the Nick of Time” – 

Origin: Despite what it seems, arriving in the ‘nick’ of time does not involve a guy named Nick. In 13th and 14th century England, the idiom ‘in the nick of time’ appeared and the nick was meant to represent a notch or small cut. This is synonymous with precision timing. These notches or tally marks were used to measure time or to keep score in a game. As time went on these ‘nicks’ referred to the pre-marked ‘nicks’ on a watch or clock that keeps the watch precisely adjusted.

Meaning: To be ‘just in time; or arrive at ‘the precise moment’.



“Well I’ll be John Brown/Browned” – 

Origin: You have most likely heard the colloquial phrase “Well I’ll be John Brown/Browned” if you live in the South. You would think that to have such a specific name in a phrase must have its origins to a specific person. If you wondered that, then you would be right. John Brown was an abolitionist in the 1800s who attempted to lead a slave rebellion by raiding the federal armory in Harpers Ferry, Virginia. This led to John Brown’s hanging in 1859. The use of the phrase “I’ll be John Browned was used to mean that someone’s involvement in something would lead to their hanging and/or imminent death. Years went by and people used the term to mean that they would be damned. When using the current terminology, “Well I’ll be John Brown” is interpreted that that something is a surprise.

Meaning: “Well I’ll be d*mned”



“Bury the hatchet”

Origin: The figurative expression of ‘burying the hatchet’ is based on a literal custom. Early American Indian Chiefs, upon reaching a peace agreement, would quite literally bury weapons to signify the peace between the two tribes. The literal ‘burial’ of the hatchet would mean that they would not have a way to fight one another, after the articles of peace had been agreed upon.

Meaning: To settle the differences between adversaries.



“Butter someone up”

Origin: For many years, it has been the belief that to ‘butter someone up’ meant that you were laying on flattery as thick as butter on bread but the idiom is actually much older than that. The idiom is actually based on an ancient Indian custom of ‘throwing balls of ghee (a clarified butter used in Indian cooking) at the statues of the gods’ to receive blessings from them. The Tibetan people also created butter sculptures during New Year (a tradition which can be traced back to the Tang Dynasty) to receive peace and happiness during the next year. SO the idiom buttering someone up actually refers to the quite literal ‘buttering’ of gods.

Meaning: To flatter someone in order to receive special favor.



“Mad as a Hatter”

Origin: You may have thought you knew where this one came from but the origin will surprise you. Lewis Caroll’s book Alice in Wonderland, may have had a Mad Hatter (quite literally a hatter who was mad) but the origins of the idiom ‘mad as a hatter’ finds its origins in 17th and 18th century France. In 17th century France, mercury was used to aid in forming hat felt. The hat makers would become poisoned and the symptoms made the hatters appear to be mad. The “Mad Hatter Disease” thusly was used as term of mental instability and thusly the ‘mad as a hatter’ idiom was born.

Meaning: To appear to be mad/crazy.


“More than you can shake a stick at.” 

Origin: The origin of the idiom ‘more than you can shake a stick at’ is two fold. The idiom had been a shepherding term that referred to a shepherd/farmer who had more sheep than they could control/count with their wooden staff. This was the origin of the phrase but American generals in the Revolutionary War started using the expression to justify a battle loss after George Washington waved a ceremonial wooden sword over the British troops that they had recently defeated. The generals would say that ‘they had more men to fight than you could wave a stick at’ to make an excuse for their failure on the field of battle. Over time the idiom began to be used to reference an excess or abundance of something.

Meaning: Having an over abundance of something; immeasurable.


Make sure that you check out “Just in the Nick of Time: A History of Interesting Idioms and Colloquial Phrases – Part 2”.


 

Images: Book stacks in Sterling Memorial Library at Yale University by and accredited to Ragesoss – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=4867448

Men! Just Say No to Drugs and Rompers.

romphim kickstarterFads and trends can either cause huge waves or produce temporary ripples out on the vast fashion sea; and here lately a storm has been on the couture horizon: the Male Romper. For those of you who have been become privy to this current fashion trend, it is exactly what you think. The hipster demographic has called for a creative one-piece designed with the male physique in mind. Complete with adjustable waist tabs, pockets, a zipper fly, and a ton of head-turning appeal. The ‘bro romper’ has been all the rage thanks to a Chicago-based clothing company who started a Kickstarter campaign to raise money for their male physique inspired romper: the RompHim. The fact that currently, the Kickstarter campaign has raised over $250,000 and we are already seeing fashion conscious males and hipster locales rocking the style.

Before you rush off to the mall, order one offline, or preorder one from the RompHim Kickstart campaign; I would like to talk to you about the price. The price of the bro-romper is high. How high you may ask? The cost of a male romper comes at the cost of your masculinity. I imagine that the romper is comfortable but a romper? Seriously? This article of clothing definitely does fall within the parameters of your typical male clothing and definitely fails to meet the expectation of what men’s clothing should look like. SO why are so many men so excited to wear something that is predominately seen on a woman or a baby?

Some have tried to argue that Cam Newton wore a ‘romper’ style suit to Coachella. Well have you seen what this guy wears normally? I’m not exactly jumping on board with hisJames bond romper fashion disasters.  Oh James Bond wore one in Goldfinger? They wore a lot of things in the 60s and 70s that should and have been left there. I’ll be honest with you, my grandpa wore a romper. Except when my grandpa wore his ‘all in one’ suit, they were called coveralls. He wore them in his profession. After he finished his tour of duty in WW2, he worked for the United States government for over 30 years at the Camp Lejuene Marine Corps base as a painter. They wore the coveralls to ‘cover all’ of their clothing. Men and women in the military, painters, those in the mechanical field or countless other professionals utilized these ‘suits’ but this romper is far from the air force jumpsuit and may be closer to our baby’s rubber ducky onesie. The new fashion trend is far from a coverall suit that the men and women in the service industry would wear.

So, will the fashion trend catch on? Sure it will. Will men everywhere will block their self-conscious feelings and shrug off the jokes, stares and snickers as they wear their romper out in public? Of course. The drawback, besides how extremely ugly that it looks, is that it does absolutely nothing for our ever dwindling masculinity. The public outrage for or against these outfits will only fuel the fire. We won’t all agree with the new fashion trends but I do hope that this romper is one of those trends that ends as quickly as it begins.


Featured Image – Baby in Romper image by and attributed to Flickr user, https://archive.org/stream/howikeptmybabywe00noye/howikeptmybabywe00noye#page/n181/mode/1up, No restrictions, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=43905986

RompHim image attributed to Kickstarter, fair use.

Cam Newton at Coachella courtesy of Instagram, fair use.

James Bond “Goldfinger” image attributed to Eon Productions and United Artists, fair use.

Boiler Suit 2 image by and attributed to Stuz, Wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=15931191

Woman wearing a Helmut Lang romper suit image by and attributed to Maegan Tintari – CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=36894979

Baby’s Romper Suit image by and attributed to Mabalu – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=44586893