People have often written in requesting the meaning and/or origin of a proverb, adage or saying. Therefore I have commenced recording the items that have been the subject of questions. There is far too much work to go through and write meanings to all of the proverbs listed on the Save the Proverbs page, and many of you will know the meaning of most proverbs.
From many of the questions I receive I rather imagine the sender has grown up in a city or else they would have known the meaning. So many of the proverbs, adages and sayings have a rural background. You will also notice that many of the proverbs refering to weather not only have application in farming but also in a marine situation. I had only heard a small portion of the proverbs when I commenced the page, but I have no trouble in understanding the meaning of them. This may be because I grew up in a farming community.
We should not blindly hold on to any specific proverb. For different situations different proverb / sayings hold good. We should think clearly and see which one applies to the situation, as each proverb is for a certain type of situation.
If you have a question please email me and I will answer your question direct by email plus include the answer in this list.
|If you don't locate your answer here try the Contradictions section it may assist you to understand your problem saying.|
This started me searching Google for an answer as I had not heard the saying before. Which led me to many sayings about 'fence posts'. Once again the rural aspect of old sayings rears it's head. There are an amazingly large number of 'fence post' saying so I decided to list a few.
If you have another fence post saying please email me.
For several years the below has been floating around as a nuisance email. It arrived again today and I thought perhaps it is useful to assist us in understanding the conditions in which our ancestors lived. It also provides explanations of some old sayings.
It is headed "Here are some facts about the 1500s."
Most people got married in June because they took their yearly bath in May (spring in the northern hemisphere), and they still smelled pretty good by June. However, since they were starting to smell, brides carried a bouquet of flowers to hide the body odor. Hence the custom today of carrying a bouquet when getting married.
Baths consisted of a big tub filled with hot water. The man of the house had the privilege of the nice clean water, then all the other sons and men, then the women and finally the children. Last of all the babies. By then the water was so dirty you could actually lose someone in it. Hence the saying, Don't throw the baby out with the bath water.
Houses had thatched roofs of thick straw-piled high, with no wood underneath. It was the only place for animals to get warm, so all the cats and other small animals (mice, bugs) lived in the roof. When it rained it became slippery and sometimes the animals would slip and fall off the roof. Hence the saying It's raining cats and dogs. There was nothing to stop things from falling into the house. This posed a real problem in the bedroom where bugs and other droppings could mess up your nice clean bed. Hence, a bed with big posts and a sheet hung over the top afforded some protection. That's how canopy beds came into existence.
The floor was dirt. Only the wealthy had something other than dirt. Hence the saying, Dirt poor. The wealthy had slate floors that would get slippery in the winter when wet, so they spread thresh (straw) on floor to help keep their footing. As the winter wore on, they added more thresh until, when you opened the door, it would all start slipping outside. A piece of wood was placed in the entrance-way. Hence: A threshhold.
In those old days, they cooked in the kitchen with a big kettle that always hung over the fire. Every day they lit the fire and added things to the pot. They ate mostly vegetables and did not get much meat. They would eat the stew for dinner, leaving leftovers in the pot to get cold overnight and then start over the next day. Sometimes stew had food in it that had been there for quite a while. Hence the rhyme: Peas porridge hot, peas porridge cold, peas porridge in the pot nine days old.
Sometimes they could obtain pork, which made them feel quite special. When visitors came over, they would hang up their bacon to show off. It was a sign of wealth that a man could, bring home the bacon. They would cut off a little to share with guests and would all sit around and chew the fat.
Those with money had plates made of pewter. Food with high acid content caused some of the lead to leach onto the food, causing lead poisoning death. This happened most often with tomatoes, so for the next 400 years or so, tomatoes were considered poisonous.
Bread was divided according to status. Workers got the burnt bottom of the loaf, the family got the middle, and guests got the top, or the upper crust.
Lead cups were used to drink ale or whisky. The combination would sometimes knock the imbibers out for a couple of days. Someone walking along the road would take them for dead and prepare them for burial. They were laid out on the kitchen table for a couple of days and the family would gather around and eat and drink and wait and see if they would wake up. Hence the custom of holding a wake.
England is old and small and the local folks started running out of places to bury people. So they would dig up coffins and would take the bones to a bone-house, and reuse the grave. When reopening these coffins, 1 out of 25 coffins were found to have scratch marks on the inside and they realized they had been burying people alive. So they would tie a string on the wrist of the corpse, lead it through the coffin and up through the ground and tie it to a bell. Someone would have to sit out in the graveyard all night (the graveyard shift) to listen for the bell; thus, someone could be, saved by the bell or was considered a dead ringer. And that's the truth. Now, whoever said History was boring ! ! !
I told you it was an old email, but it does make us think how lucky we are in this modern world. We are able to go to the fridge and find something to eat or have a hot shower twice a day.
I have been receiving requests for missing words. Must be some new game on the internet. The following are some of the requests.