Odd Sayings

Iris

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When I was a child I remember my Father saying that someone who had very bad luck must have killed a chinaman.
I have no idea why that would be worse than killing anyone else but may have come from the goldfield days.
 

Dick Turpin

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As black as Newgates knocker, as the old man used to say ( refering to the weather on a bleak and rainy day)

Also If a man walked into the pub with, a bushy moustache, he would say “ look that geezers eyebrows have come down for a drink”

He was quite funny when he was young bless him
 

EnolaGaia

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When I was a child I remember my Father saying that someone who had very bad luck must have killed a chinaman.
I have no idea why that would be worse than killing anyone else but may have come from the goldfield days.
It's a known, if little-known, phrase ...

Referring to a putative, and otherwise unrecorded, Anglo-Australian superstition that killing a Chinese person brought about bad luck.
Dictionary Entry: https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/must_have_killed_a_Chinaman
Citations / Quotes: https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/Citations:must_have_killed_a_Chinaman#English
 

EnolaGaia

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It's 'piffy', but the origin / derivation of the term is murky. Some claim it's an abbreviated form of 'piffin'.

Age and etymology are uncertain; it existed in the 1930s and possibly derives from a music hall catchphrase. Some commentators (e.g. World Wide Words) suggest that piffy may have originally been patience, and the rock bun was simply a type of cake.
https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/piffy_on_a_rock_bun

Also:

https://www.phrases.org.uk/bulletin_board/29/messages/460.html
https://www.phrases.org.uk/bulletin_board/27/messages/385.html
 

Roger Nowell

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As an alternative to Piffy, my Grandma (and Mother) would sometimes say "left like a lilty". Lilty turns out to be Northern Irish: carefree person. Which made no sense as her family are solid Yorkshire. Well, until a genealogy turned up a 3 x great grandmother from Limerick who moved to England after the famine. If that is the source, it's amazing that an Irish expression has got passed down the generations.
 

Mungoman

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As an alternative to Piffy, my Grandma (and Mother) would sometimes say "left like a lilty". Lilty turns out to be Northern Irish: carefree person. Which made no sense as her family are solid Yorkshire. Well, until a genealogy turned up a 3 x great grandmother from Limerick who moved to England after the famine. If that is the source, it's amazing that an Irish expression has got passed down the generations.
Then there is the old expression:

If wishes were horses, beggars would ride, which goes back to when horses as transport was a very common situation. Then there is another expression my Mum used, which was 'layowers for medlars'. Which was used to describe an obscure situation or thing. A lay ower, or Lay over is still used to knock almonds and consists of two sheets of canvas layed out underneath the Almond/Medlar tree, then the trunk is bashed with rubber mauls, or mallets

Funnily enough, Medlars are supposed to have gone out of fashion during the 16 and 1700's.
 

hunck

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The other day I played a table tennis match in which my team [C team] played against our club A team & were totally mullered as expected. Got me wondering about the origin of the phrase. It's fairly new to me - maybe 10 or 15 years old.

This British slang term came to wide public notice in the early 1990s, though it has certainly been around for much longer in the spoken language. Jonathon Green, in his Chambers Dictionary of Slang, suggests that one sense, to be badly beaten up, has been in UK prison slang since the 1950s.

Where it comes from is disputed. Jonathon Green suggests it’s a variant form of an older regional verb mull, to grind to powder, pulverise or crumble. He also notes that an alternative spelling is mullahed, suggesting some vaguely perceived Islamic connection, which the Oxford English Dictionary argues is a folk etymology.

In its recent revision of the term, the OED’s editors argue for a separate origin for the drunkenness sense from that of being beaten or destroyed. They agree the former is probably from the verb mull; they suggest it may be tied in with mulled for a hot spicy drink, where the link could be with the grinding of the spices. However, they suggest that the latter sense is from the British dialect of the gypsy language Romani, in which there is a stem mul-, derived from the verb “to die” (which, by the way, can be traced directly back to the Sanskrit origins of the Romani language).
An alternate version is that it derives from footballer Gerd Muller, a particularly nifty German short range goal poacher from the 70s who helped finish off many an opposing team. Doesn't seem to be a clear answer though.
 

hunck

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The phrase 'sent to Coventry' cropped up on a radio prog & got me wondering about the origin. On looking it up, it's murky - some say it originates from the English Civil War, 1640s, when

Royalist soldiers stationed in or near Coventry would be totally ignored by the locals. Excluded from taverns and all merry making in general, the Royalists would be forced to endure a very miserable existence.
then there's this from another site - sounds implausible
Way back in 1959 I was doing O level Latin. We were then told that it was a Roman expression. The Coventrians of the day resented their Roman invaders and as a protest, refused to speak with them. In consequence the Roman legionaires disliked being sent to Coventry
The earliest known instance is found in the proceedings of the Tarpoley Hunt [Cheshire] & refers to John Smith-Barry, master of the foxhounds:
1765 - Nov 4th. Mr John Barry having sent the fox hounds to a different place to what was ordered, and not meeting them himself at that place, was sent to Coventry, but returned upon giving six bottles of Claret to the hunt.
The Civil War origin seems more likely from the date, though it's 120 years after the event.
 

gattino

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A couple of words or phrases which the people of Liverpool at least believe are exclusively local (seemingly confirmed by the internet) are "antwacky" an adjective meaning old fashioned and outdated, particularly in clothes or decor....
After all these years, and only after employing the word myself in a shop the other week, has it occurred to me that this most local of local words is clearly a corruption of "antiquated" since that is precisely what it means. Staring me in the face - or the ear as the case may be - and it never dawned on me til now.
 

JamesWhitehead

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I remember "antwacky" from my years in Liverpool. It was usually used by young women to describe clothes they wouldn't be seen dead in.

I interpreted it to mean they were things Aunt Twacky might wear, imagining her as a sort of ridiculous Widow Twanky!

For the new insight, many thanks. Now what about "Meff" or "Mef", a derogatory term for a female, usually? My instinct was to connect it to the once-common sight of meths-drinkers but it was less specific and the gender was wrong. Backslang from female? :confused:
 

gattino

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now what about "Meff" or "Mef", a derogatory term for a female, usually? My instinct was to connect it to the once-common sight of meths-drinkers but it was less specific and the gender was wrong. Backslang from female? :confused:
No you were quite right - meff/meth meant methylated spirit drinker...ie a wino or tramp. The word was and is used to suggest someone is scruffy, dirty, poor looking. Perhaps girls were just more likely to pass comment on such things to each other. But it's certainly not female specific.
 
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Ermintruder

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What is the origin (and indeed meaning) of the (possibly Bringlish-only) term swit-swoo?

There are some comments online that imply it's a phoneticised verion of the 'wow!' wolf-whistle, and that it is a fairly-recent innovation. I doubt these points, but am none the wiser.

(nb some people who are generally 'bad-of-spelling'...I euphemise....have been known to write this as "tiwitt-tiwoo", as in a maniac owl. I think not- but also I know naught)

The phrase 'sent to Coventry' cropped up on a radio prog
Radio 4? Wasn't she good?
 
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Ermintruder

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That's a new one on me
May be UK only, then, as I suspected. Exceedingly-common in the over-40s, and rare between Brits of lesser years.

It's a semi self-parody of a statement, a partially-grudging compliment of necessity, frequently in the context of someone who's polished-up well (somewhat-unexpectedly, perhaps) or looks disproportionately-attractive in new (or indeed no) clothing.
 

Ermintruder

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May be UK only, then, as I suspected
On a related note....what the bloody hell is that weird thing that British people over 40 do when they make a dangly beard/tentacles shape with their inverted hands under their chins, and say in a mocking high-pitched voice "Ooooh!!! Look at how he thinks he's a ______" (or something like that).

It's a strange little understood (well, replicated) behavioural glitch, a gestalt shared shaming....action.

I bet a large sum of non-possessed money that this is mainly a British & Irish thing. Which makes me suddenly wonder if it might be a Father Tedism....or Blackadderism.....?
 

Ermintruder

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I've never seen it - I'm fascinated
I'm puzzled. I can't understand how you could've missed this.

I shall go with it being a British (well, Scottish & North of England, and island of Ireland) thing, relatively-unknown as a behaviour in 60+ or below 40s. My gut feeling is it being of televisual origin...and I become more & more convinced that it may have originated from Father Ted.

So a meme, similar perhaps to the hackneyed Tedisms such as:
"Closer....further away"
"That would be an ecumenical matter"
"Go on, go on, go on..."

(but: with the cryptic addition of the hand-movements)

ps I absolutely-guarantee that some others on the forum will know what I mean...though, not know what IT means

pps An allusion to the behaviour?

ppps Ooooh.....
2019-08-22 00.54.54.png
 
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CarlosTheDJ

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What is the origin (and indeed meaning) of the (possibly Bringlish-only) term swit-swoo?
On a related note....what the bloody hell is that weird thing that British people over 40 do when they make a dangly beard/tentacles shape with their inverted hands under their chins, and say in a mocking high-pitched voice "Ooooh!!! Look at how he thinks he's a ______" (or something like that).

It's a strange little understood (well, replicated) behavioural glitch, a gestalt shared shaming....action.

I bet a large sum of non-possessed money that this is mainly a British & Irish thing. Which makes me suddenly wonder if it might be a Father Tedism....or Blackadderism.....?
I'm 42 and have lived in the UK all my life. I've never heard of either of those things.

Where in the UK are you? Maybe it's a regional thing?
 

gattino

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Though not something you hear everyday "swit-swoo" is certainly familiar. Its very definitely an ironic vocalisation of the transcribed version of a wolf whistle. I can picture it written out in a speech bubble in comic strips such as Andy Capp.

The dangling fingers beneath the chin is again somethng seen on tv at least. Conceivably it may represent dangling testicles. Of a very deformed individual admittedly. Or perhaps its simply a minor variant on the moose/cuckold gesture of waggling your fingers at the side of your temples.
 
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gattino

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Some more terms i take (correct me) to be specifically Liverpool based, though they may be falling out of use.

"Soft brush" a not too harsh pejorative noun for someone who is daft or prone to being silly or acting stupid. Less frequently someone who actually is hard of thinking. Typically used from parent to child more than between peers. A variant, possibly harsher, is "soft ollies", ollies being marbles.

The origin is self evident in that soft refers to the condition of their brain. (How there can be such a thing as "soft ollies" is a bit harder to explain)

"arl arse". (arl = auld = old. Father or husband are therefore "me arl fella")). Someone who is cruel, mean, selfish or tight. " Don't be an arl arse!" is said to someone who refuses to share or do you a favour.
 
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