Home » Articles tagged ‘Shakespeare

Are elephants afraid of mice?

May 21, 2017 | Author: | Posted in Zoology

That elephants are particularly afraid of mice is a widespread belief. In The Lamentable Tragedy of Locrine, a play written about 1595 and formerly often ascribed to Shakespeare, we find: Have you not seen a mighty elephant Slain by the biting of a silly mouse? But the notion that elephants are afraid of mice does …

Which is correct, “spic and span” or “spick and span”?

May 19, 2017 | Author: | Posted in Language

Spick and span is the correct spelling of this common phrase. It is often but erroneously written spic and span, owing apparently to a mistaken notion of its derivation. The original phrase was span-new, which, although little used now, means quite or perfectly new, and which is derived from Old Norse spann (“chip”), and nyr …

Comments Off on Which is correct, “spic and span” or “spick and span”? Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

Why are the people of Georgia called crackers?

May 16, 2017 | Author: | Posted in General Knowledge

Cracker is applied in the South, especially in Georgia and Florida, to poor whites and hill dwellers. The term in this sense dates back at least to the time of the Revolution. Although early uses leave the origin of the term in doubt, most authorities regard it as a shortened form of corncracker, which refers …

What was the Spanish Main?

May 5, 2017 | Author: | Posted in Geography

Spanish Main was originally applied to the Spanish mainland colonies on the northeast coast of South America between the mouth of the Orinoco River and the Isthmus of Panama. At first the Spanish Main was merely this strip of mainland stretching some 1,250 miles from Panama to the Gulf of Paria opposite Trinidad. The term …

Comments Off on What was the Spanish Main? Tags: , , , , , ,

What is the philosopher’s stone?

May 3, 2017 | Author: | Posted in General Knowledge

A person looking for a short-cut to riches is said to be searching for the philosopher’s stone. In Poor Richard’s Almanac Benjamin Franklin said: “If you know how to spend less than you get, you have the philosopher’s stone.” The ancient alchemists believed that somewhere in nature there existed a substance that would transmute all …

Was Cleopatra a blonde or brunette?

April 9, 2017 | Author: | Posted in Celebrities

There is just as much reason for supposing that Cleopatra was a blonde as there is for supposing that she was a brunette. According to the popu­lar conception, she was a decided brunette, with dark skin, dark eyes and dark hair, and she is frequently referred to as the “dark queen of Egypt.” But historical …

How did “not worth a tinker’s damn” originate?

April 1, 2017 | Author: | Posted in Language

There is a difference of opinion as to whether the last word in this phrase was originally dam or damn. A tinker’s dam, according to Web­ster’s International dictionary, is a wall of soft mud, clay, dough or the like, raised around a spot that a plumber wishes to cover with solder. The material of the …

How did the New Orleans Mardi Gras originate?

March 22, 2017 | Author: | Posted in General Knowledge

Mardi Gras, pronounced mar-dee grah, literally means “fat Tuesday.” It is the French name of Shrove Tuesday, the day before Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent. Shrove is the past tense of shrive (“confess”), and Shrove Tuesday is the day on which confession or shrift was made preparatory to the forty fast days of Lent. …

Comments Off on How did the New Orleans Mardi Gras originate? Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

How did “dead as a doornail” originate?

March 6, 2017 | Author: | Posted in Language

Anything stone dead is said to be dead as a doornail. The conventional explanation of this phrase is that doornail was an old name for the plate or knob on which the knocker or hammer strikes. “As this nail is knocked on the head several times a day,” says an old writer, “it cannot be …

Comments Off on How did “dead as a doornail” originate? Tags: , , , , , , ,

How did “stealing thunder” originate?

January 4, 2017 | Author: | Posted in Drama

John Dennis (1657-1734), an English dramatist and critic, was responsible for the expression to steal one’s thunder. In 1709 his play Appius and Virginia was produced at Drury Lane in London, and for its production the playwright introduced a new method of simulating thunder on the stage. Previously stage thunder was produced by large bowls. …

Comments Off on How did “stealing thunder” originate? Tags: , , , , ,