Here's my old current stuff from July.
I'm fascinated by expressions and where they come from. As a child, you
learn the expressions as if they're one word. Like "ifs, ands, or buts"
to my young ears sounded like, "iffenzorebutts".
Some Common Expressions and Their Source
- "The Whole Nine Yards" -
- There are a lot of possible sources for this one. The one that I like the best
refers to the length of the belt on a machine gun. If you pumped all of the
bullets in a machine gun belt into a target, that would be nine yards
(twenty-seven feet) of bullets.
That's a lot. I can imagine this referring to anything that used
up everything you've got or even to overkill.
No matter how partial I am to this one, there are downsides.
1 - The phrase did not creep into the lexicon until the mid-1960s,
so thinking it's related to anything earlier than that (like WWII) is incorrect.
2 - Which machine gun belt? I'm trying to track that one down.
It had to be something used in the Vietnam War.
- "86" -
- Long ago, in the 1800s, before the Mothers Against the Consitution (MAC)
got the vote and lived to restrict freedom and liberty, whisky was served
in quart bottles and the good stuff was 100 proof. When a bar ran out
of the good stuff, they went to second rate crap which was 86 proof.
So, when you "86" something, you flag it as being no longer
Rant Time! Then, with the coming of MAC and sin taxes, booze
was taxed on alcohol content. Bars paid a premium for 100 proof stuff
but the crap wasn't hit as hard. So, in order to make a profit, bars
started selling the 86 proof stuff as "top shelf".
Then came the idea of taxing alcohol based on bottle size. The
quart (one-quarter of a gallon) went to a fifth (one-fifth of a gallon)
in order to pay less sin tax. Then 86 proof was the cut-off for the
higher sin tax and booze went to 80 proof. Then fifths were taxed high,
so the bottle size went to 750 milliliter.
So now, instead of 100 proof distilled spirits being sold in
quart (32 oz.) bottles, we get 80 proof "stuff" sold in 750 ml
(25.4 oz.) bottles.