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Fascinating. Thanks for the change of pace.
"The Whole Nine Yards" - in WWI the American machine guns were liquid cooled, but still had a tendency to overheat. If the gun overheated it would jam. Gunners were advised to shot in short burst to avoid that situation. The bullets came on belts which were approximately 27 feet long. Hence when the combat became particularly intense, despite the risk of jamming, gunners would go the whole nine yards.
I think you have been surfing the web a bit too much.
Having said that, let me add to history of slang:
The "history" of why the middle finger has the meaning it does goes back to conflicts between the French and the English. Apparently, said finger was critical to the English (or was it French or Norman?) archers pulling back their bowstrings as well as accuracy of aim. When English archers were captured by the French (or was it Normans?), their captors would cut off the middle finger to keep them from plucking their bowstrings when eventually freed. When faced with fighting de-fingered English archers, the French would taunt them by holding up thier middle finger indicating "pluck you". That, eventually, morphed in to what it suggests today.
Or something like that.
Excerpt from Sean's post:
Someone walking along the road would take them for dead and prepare them for burial. They were laid out on the kitchen table for a couple of days and the family would gather around and eat and drink and wait and see if they would wake up. Hence the custom of holding a "wake."
This happened to Jerry Garcia long before he became famous, and when suddenly awakened, he exclaimed,
"Grateful (I'm not) Dead.
We all know what evolved into.
I love things like this. "Up the creek/river" comes from the Renaissance when major cities were built along a river. During this rich cultural time, citizens did not want to see beggars and mentally ill people, so asylums were established (often converted Leprosariums) upstream, a little outside their respective cities.
Ohlala: You would think that they would send these people "downstream" from them i.e. would you want to be drawing your bath & drinking water when you had a bunch of "derelicts" living upstream ? Slang terms aside, it sounds like the designers of that plan may not have been any brighter / better off than those that they were trying to get rid of : ) Sean
Here are a couple more...The first is for the lyrics of "Ring around the Rosie":
Ring around the Rosie - Plague victims, having contracted the disease from flea/rat bites, typically exhibited a red, "ring-shaped" area around the central bite area (rose);
Pocket full of posies - dead bodies typically had flowers placed on/near the body to mask the stench;
Ashes, ashes, we all fall down - In an attempt to prevent the spread of the plague (and because so many people were dying), large funeral pyres were built to cremate the bodies. When the wood burned through, the ashes/bones fell to the ground. Cute, huh?
The second is related to why men's shirts and coats button the way they do (with the button holes on the left half of the shirt). Back in the days when it was fashionable/necessary to wear a sword, long coats were also fashionable. In order to draw one's sword quickly (with the right hand, of course) one needed to open one's coat quickly, and with one hand. Thus, by having the button holes on the left side, one could open their coat with their left hand and draw their sword with their right.