Skip to comments.BET YOU DIDN'T KNOW THE SOURCE OF THESE IDIOMATIC EXPRESSIONS
Posted on 08/30/2013 1:39:08 PM PDT by B4Ranch
Early aircraft's throttles had a ball on the end of it, in order to go full throttle the pilot had to push the throttle all the way forward into the wall of the instrument panel. Hence "balls to the wall" for going very fast. And now you know, the rest of the story.
********************************* During WWII , U.S. airplanes were armed with belts of bullets which they would shoot during dogfights and on strafing runs. These belts were folded into the wing compartments that fed their machine guns. These belts measure 27 feet and contained hundreds of rounds of bullets. Often times, the pilots would return from their missions having expended all of their bullets on various targets. They would say, �I gave them the whole nine yards,� meaning they used up all of their ammunition.
********************************* Did you know the saying "God willing and the creek don't rise" was in reference to the Creek Indians and not a body of water? It was written by Benjamin Hawkins in the late 18th century. He was a politician and Indian diplomat. While in the south, Hawkins was requested by the President of the U.S. to return to Washington . In his response, he was said to write, "God willing and the Creek don't rise." Because he capitalized the word "Creek" it is deduced that he was referring to the Creek Indian tribe and not a body of water.
********************************* In George Washington's days, there were no cameras. One's image was either sculpted or painted. Some paintings of George Washington showed him standing behind a desk with one arm behind his back while others showed both legs and both arms. Prices charged by painters were not based on how many people were to be painted, but by how many limbs were to be painted. Arms and legs are 'limbs,' therefore painting them would cost the buyer more. Hence the expression, 'Okay, but it'll cost you an arm and a leg.' (Artists know hands and arms are more difficult to paint.)
****************************** As incredible as it sounds, men and women took baths only twice a year (May and October). Women kept their hair covered, while men shaved their heads (because of lice and bugs) and wore wigs. Wealthy men could afford good wigs made from wool. They couldn't wash the wigs, so to clean them they would carve out a loaf of bread, put the wig in the shell, and bake it for 30 minutes. The heat would make the wig big and fluffy, hence the term 'big wig'. Today we often use the term 'here comes the Big Wig' because someone appears to be or is powerful and wealthy.
********************************* In the late 1700's, many houses consisted of a large room with only one chair. Commonly, a long wide board folded down from the wall, and was used for dining. The 'head of the household' always sat in the chair while everyone else ate sitting on the floor. Occasionally a guest, who was usually a man, would be invited to sit in this chair during a meal. To sit in the chair meant you were important and in charge. They called the one sitting in the chair the 'chair man.' Today in business, we use the expression or title 'Chairman' or 'Chairman of the Board.'
********************************* Personal hygiene left much room for improvement. As a result, many women and men had developed acne scars by adulthood. The women would spread bee's wax over their facial skin to smooth out their complexions. When they were speaking to each other, if a woman began to stare at another woman's face she was told, 'mind your own bee's wax.' Should the woman smile, the wax would crack, hence the term 'crack a smile'. In addition, when they sat too close to the fire, the wax would melt. Therefore, the expression 'losing face.'
********************************* Ladies wore corsets, which would lace up in the front. A proper and dignified woman, as in 'straight laced' wore a tightly tied lace.
********************************* Common entertainment included playing cards. However, there was a tax levied when purchasing playing cards but only applicable to the 'Ace of Spades.' To avoid paying the tax, people would purchase 51 cards instead. Yet, since most games require 52 cards, these people were thought to be stupid or dumb because they weren't 'playing with a full deck.'
******************************** Early politicians required feedback from the public to determine what the people considered important. Since there were no telephones, TV's or radios, the politicians sent their assistants to local taverns, pubs, and bars. They were told to 'go sip some Ale and listen to people's conversations and political concerns. Many assistants were dispatched at different times. 'You go sip here' and 'You go sip there.' The two words 'go sip' were eventually combined when referring to the local opinion and, thus we have the term 'gossip.'
********************************** At local taverns, pubs, and bars, people drank from pint and quart-sized containers. A bar maid's job was to keep an eye on the customers and keep the drinks coming. She had to pay close attention and remember who was drinking in 'pints' and who was drinking in 'quarts,' hence the phrase 'minding your 'P's and Q's'.
********************************** One more: bet you didn't know this! In the heyday of sailing ships, all war ships and many freighters carried iron cannons. Those cannons fired round iron cannon balls. It was necessary to keep a good supply near the cannon. However, how to prevent them from rolling about the deck? The best storage method devised was 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 or rolling from under the others. The solution was a metal plate called a 'Monkey' with 16 round indentations. However, if this plate were made of iron, the iron balls would quickly rust to it. The solution to the rusting problem was to make '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 cannonballs would come right off the monkey; Thus, it was quite literally, 'Cold enough to freeze the balls off a brass monkey.' (All this time, you thought that was an improper expression, didn't you.)
If you don't send this fabulous bit of historic knowledge to any and all your unsuspecting friends, your hard drive will kill your mouse.
An entertaining email, to be sure, but at least three are not true: Brass Monkey, Save Face, and Gossip. I didn’t have the time to look up the rest.
I did know most of these.
Cool...thanks for sharing.
“balls to the wall”
First time I heard that expression it was a Navy guy saying it.
And he wasn’t a pilot.
” Did you know the saying “God willing and the creek don’t rise” was in reference to the Creek Indians and not a body of water? It was written by Benjamin Hawkins in the late 18th century. He was a politician and Indian diplomat. While in the south, Hawkins was requested by the President of the U.S. to return to Washington . In his response, he was said to write, “God willing and the Creek don’t rise.” Because he capitalized the word “Creek” it is deduced that he was referring to the Creek Indian tribe and not a body of water.”
I read a long site a day or so ago, disputing this. Gave lots of examples, and sited lots of research.
Thanx. This will keep my smartass liberal sister-in-law busy for quite a while fact checking all this stuff.
The only one up there that I know to be true is the 27 feet of ammo and the expression “the whole nine yards.” But it only applied to the P-51 Mustang. Other aircraft had differing amounts.
And the most common use of the phrase was after a young pilot got caught sneaking onto the base after a night out with his English girl friend. To a common question, “well, did you get into any trouble?” The usual reply was, “yea, they brought me up in front of the old man and he gave me the whole nine yards.”
Since when do libtards care about facts?
This stuff is almost as bad as the ‘pluck yew’ email that makes the rounds every couple of years.
The Las Vegas triple-A baseball team has a nickname of the “Las Vegas 51’s.” Now, is this a reference to Tin-Foil Hatness (as in Area 51), or a reference to being one card short of a full deck?
This one does. Snopes is her Bible. And we know how unbiased Snopes is.
She just commented the other day about how the people who know where came from are dying off. (Pilots had access to silk when it was hard to find.)
I always thought “balls to the wall”, or “balls out”, referred to the governor on a steam engine running full speed. Pretty sure “losing face” is wrong, as it has been used in Asian cultures for ages. Fun to talk about these things anyway.
I thought ‘balls to the wall’ was in reference to ball speed governors for steam engines. The balls spin and centrifugal force makes the balls go out and this action can be used to limit a throttle.
Most fighters of the day in WWII fired .50 BMG ammunition. The average ammunition load per machine gun was 300 rounds per gun. For example, the P-51 Mustang carried 4 - .50 M1 machine guns and a total of 1260 rounds or 315 rounds per gun.
The base of the .50 BMG is .804" in diameter.
315 X .804" = 253".
253" / 12" = 21'.
So, a belt of 315 rounds of .50 BMG ammunition is actually, at minimum, 7 yards, not 9.
Calculations for .30-06, which is the other commonly used aircraft ammunition, comes up with a similarly different number than 9 yards.
Since single-letter typesetting requires using letters that are mirror images of the desired letters, the p and q are especially easy to mistake for each other.
These sound like they were written by Woody Allen.
As for rum, we know what it means to be “groggy”. There was a Royal Navy captain whose trademark was his heavy coat made of coarse `grogram’. His crew nicknamed him “Old Grog”.
When he began cutting the sailors’ rum ration with water, the resulting drink was called `grog’ though not in his honor.
"Balls to the wall" is a far older phrase than the age of flight. . . especially WWII Multi-engine bomber throttle planes. It comes from rowing and the order for speed to the oarsmen to put out maximum effort. So your sailor may be closer than aviation.
Another proposed derivation comes from steam engines. The governor on was a double set of spinning balls on a rotating valve that closed down the amount of steam as centrifugal force spun the balls faster and faster I.E. closer to the wall...
Finally, the term is said to derive from baseball. . . with the coach telling hitters to send their "balls to the wall" I.E., the out field wall, or fence.
All three of these make more sense than the bomber derivation as the phrase predates WWII. . . and the best and most efficient flying speed would
Do you have a source on that? The military aviation explanation is all over the Interwebs.
Some of these are dubious. And the expression is actually STRAIT-laced, as in “strait jacket.”
Regardless, coming up with an additional 6' to the belt to account for the links and total 27' is doubtful.
Stacks of cannon balls were NEVER used aboard ship. Such stacking was used in forts and land based cannon emplacements, on ships, with the uncertainties of the ocean, such a stack is too unstable. The shot on shipboard is stored on the gun wall in racks of holes made for the purpose, not on the deck. Having built museum quality ship models from the keel up, including warships of the period, I know there is no nautical e term "brass monkey." There is a "monkey fist" knot. . . But that is a rare reference. If I recall correctly, it is a terminating knot used inside an eye loop.
The first one is probably the only true one on the list.
1887 Webster`s Dictionary “gossip [AS, goddsibb . fr. god God + sibb related, a relation
1. archaric. a. a godparent.
b. A friend; crony.
2. An idle tattler; a newsmonger,,, “
“gossiping 1. one who gossips
2. Now Dial. a. A christening or christening feast
b. A meeting of friends...also, a merrymaking
“gossipred” [sic] “1. Hist. Spiritual relationship between sponsor and sponsored”
2. Rare. Gossip, chatter
The wax on the face was to cove the scarring of smallpox.
Bigwig is wrong, too.. It has nothing to do with lice and shaved heads. It had to do with wealthy people could afford more expensive and, therefore more elaborate, and bigger, wigs.
Saving Face comes from Asia and has nothing at all to do with wax, cracking smiles, or any of that twaddle. It has to do with prestige, honor, and social position.
And as you probably found out, "gossip" is derived from an old English word for Godparent (LOL). . . gottsibb.
Where do they make this stuff up? And who?
Now do the calculation for the F6F Hellcat or F4U Corsair (with 400 rpg)
The real issues of watching your ps and qs arose in sorting movable type after a paper or book had been printed and the pages were being broken down the individual letters sorted back into the fonts (the drawers of individual lead characters that make up each style and size of a particular family of type). Lower case ps and qs were the most difficult to tell apart and the print devils (the young printing apprentices) who were given the unenviable job of doing the sorting were always being reminded to "mind your ps and qs" while doing the sorting. The qrinter would NOT be qleased to have to reset an entire qage because a squrious "q" was used when the qroqer word was sqelled correctly exceqt for the devil's mis-sorting... ;^)
I've seen derivation of this phrase that yet again predates WWII, and leads back to sailing ships of the 18th century. . . Specifically three masted ships with three square sails per mast, each called a yard. When sailing before the wind, it was said they'd use the who nine yards. They could also add stud sails and sheet sails and fore and aft sails. But the saying was "the whole nine yards." It got a lot more complicated with clipper ships in the 19th Century when a mast could have up to eight sails off the yard arms, plus studs'ls. There were a few with ten. . . but they were found to be impractical. These include moonraker, skysail, royal (named for what once was the pennant, or king's flag), upper and lower gallant, upper and lower topsail, and main course sail.
By the way, there is no sail called a "sheet," a sheet is a line, a rope, attached to the bottom corner of the sail. If you lose these lines into the wind, you've lost control of that sail. . . and the ability to tack. The ropes will be blowing out over the open water and essentially very difficult to retrieve, hence the "two (or three) sheets into the wind" signifying someone falling down drunk, out of control.
Then there's the phrase of which most people don't know the source: "learn the ropes." Each and every one of those sails had at least eight control rigging lines and then the supporting wood and iron had more, called working rigging, plus the "standing rigging," which supported and kept everything taut, that a sailor had to learn. . . and each ship, while adhering to basic methods, was different. Hence, "learning the ropes."
If I read your measurements correctly, you are not leaving room for the linkage between the rounds.
Heavens to Betsy
Who is Betsy and what do heavens have to do with her ?
So is the nine-yard myth, but no one can find a nine-yard belt of aviation ammo anywhere.
As to source, not currently, but KSFO had at one time Dr. Richard Lederer on their morning show the last Friday of every month and he addressed that chestnut once. He is the author of several books on word and phrase origins and derivations. He pointed out the problem of the "balls to wall" pre-dating the age of flight and that as far as he could research it no Multi-engine aircraft throttle actually had throttles that went to a "wall" except for a couple of German designs, yet this is an English phrase. Some small aircraft had push-pull throttles, but not big bombers, but their throttles were out for full, not into the wall. Dr. Lederer suggested the rowing scenario from literature, but also allowed the train engine and baseball as possible alternatives in response to callers who offered alternatives from the Internet. . . But he thought the rowing was more likely, given that the steam engine governor was generally not in proximity to a wall, and baseball field perimeters were usually referred to as fences, and the early literature reference to rowing.
How about you do the calculations and post your results?
Ah, so what is the space of the linkage between the rounds?
So, the point of your post being...?
That was fun! Thanks!
Let me locate an armed P-51 and my calipers (that’s the hard part) and I’ll get back to you.
The best part was nobody yelled at me for using all caps in the title.
Maybe they’ve learned to choose their battles. we’ve got much bigger fish to fry these days, right? And heck, it’s Friday night for crying out loud! Lets all take a little time for recreation in whatever form we can.
Correcting an incorrect conception of belted ammunition, obviously.
So, did WWII aircraft use cotton-belted ammuntion or metallic links?
I don’t know that any of these are true, but they are entertaining. There’s a show on the History Channel that gives the origin of many words and phrases like these. Lots of fun to learn word origins, anyway.
This has been floating around the interwebs since 99.
Here’s what Snopes has to say.
“For example, the P-51 Mustang carried 4 - .50 M1 machine guns and a total of 1260 rounds or 315 rounds per gun”
That only applies to the earliest models. The majority of P-51s built had six guns and 1880 rounds of ammunition.
(The extra two guns hardly improved firepower as guns jammed so frequently - it just upped the possibility that something would happen when a target was in the sights and the trigger was pulled.)
Snopes is good at social engineering, IMO.
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