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Where'd it come from #60

Created date

November 12th, 2013
Bags of money

Filthy rich

Getting to the origin of filthy rich requires something of an etymological journey. Going back to the 1300s and the works of such authors as Geoffrey Chaucer, a typical word for wealth was the Latin term lucre. Soon after, other writers like William Tindale began painting the notion of wealth in a negative light what Tindale called filthy lucre. In time, someone shortened the term, referring to money as the filthy. Eventually, a more modern variation arose filthy rich a phrase originally reserved for those who acquired their fabulous wealth by dishonorable means. Today, people use it in reference to most anyone who is, to apply another euphemism, loaded. When I saw him pull up in a Rolls Royce, I knew he was filthy rich.

Sacred cow

For those who subscribe to Hinduism, the cow is perhaps the most venerated of all creatures. In fact, to eat one would be unthinkable. They are, in a word, sacred. Hence our use of the phrase, sacred cow, which refers to anything that someone worships as holy. While my parents surely love all of their children, my younger brother is their sacred cow.

Lame duck

After researching where the phrase lame duck came from, it seems to have nothing at all to do with politics. Of course, that is how we use it today, that is, in reference to a politician in his or her final term of office and, therefore, essentially unable to accomplish anything of substance. But originally, lame duck was a euphemism from the British stock market. If someone labeled you a lame duck, it meant that you were an investor unable to pay off your debt. The theme of inability appears to be the only similarity to its political usage in modern parlance. As a lame duck president, he has no power to push new policy. At this point, he s just waiting to leave office.

Joined at the hip

Originally, the phrase joined at the hip was used quite literally in reference to conjoined twins Chang and Eng Bunker (1811-1874). Born in Siam (hence another phrase, Siamese twins ), Chang and Eng were joined at the hip and, as doctors later found out during the brothers autopsy, they also shared a liver. As youths, the twins came to America and made a small fortune as a freak show exhibit. For years, they toured the country, dazzling spectators, some of them bemused, some fascinated, and still others horrified. Regardless, their story is a lasting legacy in itself, and their physical disability the source of a phrase referring to those who are always together. John and I have been best friends since we were children. We ve spent all these years practically joined at the hip.