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Where'd it come from?

Created date

July 6th, 2010

(Runs a) tight ship: The sea vessels of the old days depended on wind, and harnessing that power required sails that could capture it. Ropes that were too loose would cause the sails to flap limply in the wind (known in nautical circles as luffing ). Therefore, a captain had to be sure that his crew had the ropes nice and taught, thus keeping the sails in order and full of wind. He ran a tight ship in doing so. '

We commonly use this phrase in reference to anyone who runs an effective and well-organized operation. ' This office was in complete disarray before our new boss took over, but things have since changed. She runs a tight ship.

Hair of the dog (that bit you)

Hundreds of years ago long before medical science took hold people believed that one could cure the effects of a rabid dog bite using that dog s hair as an antidote. While this proved about as useful as bleeding, the phrase itself endures today, not as a remedy for dog bites, but for hangovers. The morning after a long night of heavy drinking, a smaller dose of booze might help take the edge off of an aching head or stomach. In essence, it s the hair of the dog that bit you. ' We were out all night barhopping, so this morning, it took a little hair of the dog to get me going.

Through the ringer

The electric washer was a big move forward after years of scraping clothes against a washboard. Once a load of wash was finished, however, you had to ring them out before you hung them to dry. To do this, you would put each article of clothing through a set of rubber rollers that pressed out the excess water. ' But the advent of electrically powered rollers brought a new danger. They could seriously injure an operator if her fingers got caught between them. In modern conversation, we allude to this pressing action in reference to stressful situations. The chairman put him through the ringer during the meeting.

Shyster (Scheuster)

Scheuster was a New York lawyer in the 1840s well known for quibbling over insignificant details and other obstructive behavior in court. His reputation survives today and refers to other attorneys guilty of unscrupulous conduct. The word commonly appears as shyster.

The prosecuting attorney thought he had an iron-clad case, but a shyster lawyer was able to cast doubt.