Farm Fresh!
Food and Farm Humor
Whaddaya Mean You "Laid an Egg"?

The Baby Ruth candy bar was named after the legendary baseball player, right?
Not!

    
King James, in a jocular mood, once knighted a particularly tasty side of beef and addressed it as "Sir Loin."
Not!
    
Piggyback has nothing at all to do with pigs.
Uh Huh!
    
The English language is littered with words and phrases dropped by unknown passersby. Some son of a guns with loose tongues went gung ho with their metaphors and now the rest of us have to bite the bullet. Most linguistic litterbugs have gotten away scot-free, leaving bad eggs like bozos and stool pigeons and crap lying around with no explanation for where they came from, or what they really mean. It's enough to drive you batty.

And so, in the absence of any certainty when we get down to brass tacks it's human nature to wing it.

"People cannot resist making up explanations for the origins of words and phrases," says etymologist Hugh Rawson, author of Devious Derivations: Popular Misconceptions -- and More Than 1,000 True Origins of Common Words and Phrases. "Their theories are at once a reflection of the general reluctance to accept uncertainty and a tribute to their powers of creativity."
    
In his book, Rawson has tracked down the real origins of 1,000 words and phrases that most of us think we know the meanings of, but don't.

Baby Ruth, for instance, was actually named after the grandaughter of a candy manufacturer and "sirloin" derives from the French word "surlonge," meaning "over-loin" or "above-loin." And piggyback evolved from pick-a-back, which meant to pitch something onto the back.

It may also be of some interest to know the real origins of the following terms:
    
Jerusalem Artichoke. It's actually a sunflower, not an artichoke, and native to the Americas, not the Holy Land. Cultivated by Italians who called it "girasole," it became Jerusalem artichoke to English speakers who had trouble pronouncing the Italian name.
    
Spud. Acronym for Society for the Prevention of an Unhealthy Diet (SPUD)? Not! says Rawson.
  • "Spudde" was the name of a short -handled digging tool, like a spade, as early as 500 years ago and was probably used to dig for potatoes.

Hogwash. The water in which hogs bathe? Nope, guess again.
  • It's actually the swill that's fed to them.
    
S.O.S.
Stands for Save Our Ship, right? Nope. It's not an acronym at all.
  • It's just an easy Morse code signal to remember.

Turkey. And how did the Thanksgiving fowl get its name?
  • From Turkey, the Mideast nation, but by mistake. English speakers called guinea fowl from Africa "turkeys" after they were imported through Turkish territory. The first American "turkeys" exported to England in the 16th century were believed to be related and, consequently, got the same name.

Laid An Egg. The egg laid when a performance flops or things don't go right is certainly not a hen's egg. But it may be a metaphorical goose egg, according to Rawson, like the zeros laid on the scoreboard at baseball games by losing ballclubs.

Informal English
Informal English

Puncture Ladies, Egg Harbors, Mississippi Marbles, and Other Curious Words and Phrases of North America
Paradoxes from A to Z
Paradoxes from A to Z


Um...
Um...

Devious Derivations
Devious Derivations

Popular Misconceptions -- and More Than 1,000 True Origins of Common Words and Phrases
Household Words
Household Words

What Were They Thinking?
What Were They Thinking?

Have Your Way with Bureaucrats
Have Your Way with Bureaucrats

Laugh Louder Live Longer
Laugh Louder Live Longer


Contests
See the Movie
Market Entrance
Visit the Booths
Bulletin Board
Sign Guestbook
Holidays
How to Lease a Booth
Buy Direct Directory
Humor Books


Farmer's Market Online.
Copyright © 2009 Outrider. All rights reserved.
Established in 1995.