ale · did you know? · humor · sayings

Did You Know? Number 2

This is Part 2 of the Did You Know? blog I posted earlier this week. Again, who knows if these explanations are accurate, but they are as good an account as any.

Personal hygiene left much room for improvement.  As a result, many women and men had developed acne scars by adulthood. The women would spread bee’s wax over their facial skin to smooth out their complexions. When they were speaking to each other, if a woman  began to stare at another woman’s face she was told, ‘mind your own bee’s wax.’ losing-faceShould the woman smile, the wax would crack, hence the term ‘crack a smile’. In addition, when they sat too close to the fire, the wax would melt. Therefore, the expression ‘losing face.

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Ladies wore corsets corsets-6, which would lace up in the front. A proper and dignified woman, as in ‘straight laced’ wore a tightly tied lace.

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Common entertainment included playing cards. However, there was a tax levied when purchasing playing cards but only  applicable to theace-of-spades ‘Ace of Spades.’ To avoid paying the tax, people would  purchase 51 cards instead. Yet, since most games require deck-of-cards52 cards, these people were thought to be stupid or dumb because they weren’t ‘playing with a full deck.’

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Early politicians required feedback from the  public to determine what the people considered important. Since there  were no telephones, TV’s or radios, the politicians sent their  assistants to local taverns, pubs, and bars.tavern They were told to ‘go sip some Ale and listen to people’s conversations and political  concerns. Many assistants were dispatched at different times. ‘You go sip here’ and ‘You go sip there.’ The two words ‘go sip’ were  eventually combined when referring to the local opinion and, thus we  have the term ‘gossip.’

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At local taverns, pubs, and bars, people drank  from pint and quart-sized gossipcontainers. A bar maid’s job was to keep an  eye on the customers and keep the drinks coming. She had to pay close attention and remember who was drinking in ‘pints’ and who was drinking in ‘quarts,’ hence the phrase ‘minding your  ‘P’s and Q’s’.

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One more: bet you didn’t know this! In the heyday of sailing ships, all war ships and many freighters carried iron cannons. Those cannons fired round iron cannon balls. It was necessary  to keep a good supply near the cannon. However, how to prevent them from rolling about the deck? cannonball-3The best storage method devised was a square-based pyramid with one ball on top, resting on four resting on nine, which rested on sixteen. Thus, a supply of 30 cannon balls could be stacked in a small area right next to the cannon. There was only one problem…. how to prevent the bottom layer from sliding or rolling from  under the others. The solution was a metal plate called a ‘Monkey’ with 16 round indentations. However, if this plate were made of iron, the  iron balls would quickly rust to it. The solution to the rusting problem was to make ‘Brass Monkeys.’
Few landlubbers realize that brass contracts greater and much faster than iron when it’s chilled. Consequently, when the temperature dropped too far, the brass indentations would shrink so much that the iron cannonballs would roll right off the monkey; brass-monkeyThus, it was quite literally, ‘Cold enough to freeze the balls off a brass monkey.’

 

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16 thoughts on “Did You Know? Number 2

  1. So interesting! I have another possible origin of ‘gossip’ – that it comes from the old English word ‘godsibb’ literally ‘one related to a person in God’ or a close relative: god -God and Sibb – sibling. In the 17th century it also came to mean a close friend and from there, someone you share your secrets with. It took the form of a verb in the early 19th century, meaning ‘idle talk’.

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