Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Some of my favorite wrong sayings.

1. I think that twice within the last week I've heard someone describe someone else as being "Smart as a whip." Which sounds like it would be a put-down, but they meant it as a compliment. I never knew whips were so smart. I'm pretty sure they meant to say "quick as a whip," which makes much more sense, and is also a way of saying that somebody is smart.

As an aside, I sometimes like to say that someone is "sharp as a whip, quick as a tack," which is funny because I am intentionally switching the adjectives for humorous effect.

2. "The proof is in the pudding." Why do people say this so often? Don't they know it makes absolutely no sense? There's no proof in the pudding. Why would the proof be in the pudding? J.I. Packer has surmised that the original saying was once "The proof of the pudding is in the eating." This makes a little bit more sense, although I admit that I'm still not sure exactly when it would be appropriate. Unless I were having a very specialized debate about the existence of pudding.

4 comments:

Totallyscrappy said...

I haven't visited your blog in a long time. (Facebook sort of takes over...) I am so happy to hear that you are pregnant! How exciting. God's blessings for a healthy pregnancy.

ASB said...

Back in ol' Blighty people still say, "The proof of the pudding is in the eating." And, on occasion, I, too, can be found sporting this very saying.

I found this an interesting post, as this is something I find tremendously irksome (the misuse of phrases...not your blogging). One of my biggest goat-getting misuses is the expression, "I could care less." Because that often communicates the very opposite of what the speaker means to convey. What they are going for, and missing, is "I couldn't care less" which tells me that this is a situation about which they could not care any less. Whereas when they say, "I could care less" what hey are communicating to me is that they could indeed care less about the situation then what they currently do.

The world needs its pedants...

Emilie said...

So - I've always heard "Smart as a Whip" . . and you're right. It makes no sense. So I googled it and this is what I got as the origin:
SMART AS A WHIP - "Bright, clever, alert. A whip 'smarts' and operates with snap. In the days of horse-drawn vehicles one was often able to urge on the horse merely by flicking or cracking a whip near the animal, and if that failed, you could be sure of results by seeing that the flick or crack touched him lightly. The transfer must have arisen from that widespread exercise. An expression in use early in the 19th century was 'smart as a steel trap,' which does indeed operate smartly too, but by 1860 the 'Mountaineer' in Salt Lake City was printing: 'Mr. A___ was a prompt and successful businessman, 'smart as a whip,' as the Yankees say." From "Dictionary of Cliches" by James Rogers (Wings Books, Originally New York: Facts on File Publications, 1985).

Jeff said...

Emilie - veeeery interesting. I stand corrected.