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Where'd it come from? #44

Created date

May 8th, 2012

Slush fund

Today, we hear this phrase used so often in reference to finances, whether it be an office slush fund or the more infamous allusion to the federal government treating Social Security coffers like a slush fund. But the phrase actually finds its origin among early 19thcentury seafarers. Slush originally referred to the fat and grease refuse that resulted from boiling meat aboard ship. Typically, sailors would save this slush with the intent of selling it as cooking lard, thus earning a little bit of pocket change or, more appropriately, a personal slush fund. We used part of the office slush fund to throw our boss a birthday party.

(Forced to) eat crow

While this phrase has a deeper basis in myth than it does fact, it still warrants some note. Legend has it that during the War of 1812, a British soldier stumbled upon an American hunter returning from an outing. Holding the hunter at gunpoint, the British soldier forced the American to eat the crow he had just shot, supposedly as a measure of humiliation. In time, the notion of eating crow became synonymous with shame. When the company s profits for the next quarter were not as high as the chairman predicted, he was forced to eat crow.

Butter wouldn t melt in his/her mouth

This phrase probably ranks among the world s oldest insults, dating as far back as the 16thcentury. It refers to someone s personality, insinuating that they are so cold hearted, reptilian even, that they lack the body temperature needed to melt butter. I find her presence insufferable. She is wholly without personality. Indeed, I d bet that butter wouldn t melt in her mouth.

Blue laws

It s hard to believe that in the 21stcentury there are still states that are either dry or have antiquated liquor laws on the books. But believe it or not, there are. In some counties and local jurisdictions, for instance, there are laws that make it illegal for a liquor store to open for business on Sunday. These statutes, better known as Blue Laws, are named after 17thcentury theocratic laws, commonly published on blue paper in states like Connecticut. Thanks to our county s blue laws, I have to stock up on beer on Saturday.