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"Keep your eyeballs peeled...: wherever did these expressions come from?

Tags: cliches, fish, languages, religion

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My brain is full...
in colonial times if you were put in the stockade depending on your "crime" your ear would be nailed to part of the stockade, when you were relaesed a notch would be cut on your ear instead of the nail being pulled.... Ear Marked
Brass Monkey

It was necessary to keep a good supply of cannon balls near the cannon on old war ships. But how to prevent them from rolling about the deck was the problem.. The storage method devised was to stack them as 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/rolling from under the others.

The solution was a metal plate with 16 round indentations, called, for reasons unknown, a Monkey. But if this plate were made of iron, the iron balls would quickly rust to it. The solution to the rusting problem was to make them of brass - hence,Brass Monkeys.

Few landlubbers realize that brass contracts much more and much faster than iron when chilled.

Consequently, when the temperature dropped too far, the brass indentations would shrink so much that the iron cannon balls would come right off the monkey.

Thus, it was quite literally, cold enough to freeze the balls off a brass monkey.. And all this time, folks thought that was just a vulgar expression?
marvelous story! ad so beautifully told.
This is not actually true. I looked it up; the term "brass monkey" was a mishearing of a Swahili term for the Brassis monkey, like a Reeses monkey but with less peanut butter in the middle.

The most authoritative source for the etymological of words and phrases in the English language is "The Oxford English Dictionary," the multi-volume collection commonly called The OED. The earliest recorded WRITTEN use of the phrase was "cage of monkeys," in 1840. Of course, the expression most likely was used in SPOKEN English, long before it was ever written in print.

Here is the entry from that source:

31. colloq. a wagonload (also barrel, etc.) of monkeys: used as the type of something extremely clever, mischievous, disorderly, jolly, fun, etc.

In barrel of monkeys, perhaps influenced by barrel of fun (laughs, etc.) s.v. BARREL n.

1840 G. DARLEY Thomas à Becket V. viii. 129 De Traci chatters More than a cage of monkeys: we must wait.
Again back in colonial times when a person died there were accounts of them not really being dead, they woke up before they were put into thier coffins... so 24 hours a day for 3 days a person was to sit next to the dead body to make sure he/she didn't wake up it was known as "A Wake"

A string was tied to the body usually the hand or wrist, a hole was drilled in the top of the coffin, then sealed with wax as the coffin was covered with loose dirt the string was brought up and attached to a bell, if the person wasn't dead and started moving in the coffin the bell would ring and he/she would be....... "Saved by the bell"

I learned a few of these last year, I was in Willaimsburg VA. we took a Ghost Tour of the town, a lot of good stories and where phrases that are used today came from.
You can’t make a silk purse out of a sows ear.
See, and I thought the holy mackeral was about someone who caught a fish that looked like Jesus. Hmm. I guess you learn something new every day.

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