Odd Sayings. Where did they come from?

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Mountain Goat
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03 Aug 2020, 4:24 am

The day before yesterday. Isn't that today? We say a lot of strange things. I tend to think "What does that actually mean?" I don't like saying things that I am not clear what they mean. I want terms and words to make sense before I say them.
To find the meanings of some terms we first need to find out where they came from. It is interesting.
For example, "Swot" when it referrs to someone who is mentally sharp at studying for exams is a word created from S.W.O.T. which is an old railway term for a non-compulsary exam (Today the exams here are compulsary though today they are called "The Rules Exam") which very few railway staff had done. The exam was an extra to the requirements. S.W.O.T. stood for "Safe Working Of Trains".
As so few railway people in those days had tried, let alone passed the exam, the few who had became known as "Swots".
Another similar word was "s**t" which was origionally S.H.I.T. This was a saftey regulation for the canal barges to use in and out of London. For years before the London sewerage system was inveted, while sewerage in other places was tipped out into the street to go down the gutters (Trenches that led to the rivers), London being a crowded place obviously had problems, so they would for centuries take the sewerage out of the city in canal barges.
Now there were gas lamps in the streets, and the gas from the sewerage would on occasions explode blowing up the barge and endangering the lives of those who worked them. Due to this they needed to introduce ways in which the gas fumes could dissperse without being a threat to life by causing an explosion.
A method of safe working was adopted where the sewerage could be well vented so the as would have already been removed by the time they took the barges through the sections that passed the street lamps, which was done at night as no one wanted a barge of that stuff pass in the daytime! This method was to store the sewerage high in tiers, and the staff who worked these barges were given the instructions "Store High In Tiers", which became known as "s**t", and it is why we associate our number twos with the abbreviated term.


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naturalplastic
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03 Aug 2020, 4:38 am

Mountain Goat wrote:
The day before yesterday. Isn't that today? We say a lot of strange things. I tend to think "What does that actually mean?" I don't like saying things that I am not clear what they mean. I want terms and words to make sense before I say them.
To find the meanings of some terms we first need to find out where they came from. It is interesting.
For example, "Swot" when it referrs to someone who is mentally sharp at studying for exams is a word created from S.W.O.T. which is an old railway term for a non-compulsary exam (Today the exams here are compulsary though today they are called "The Rules Exam") which very few railway staff had done. The exam was an extra to the requirements. S.W.O.T. stood for "Safe Working Of Trains".
As so few railway people in those days had tried, let alone passed the exam, the few who had became known as "Swots".
Another similar word was "s**t" which was origionally S.H.I.T. This was a saftey regulation for the canal barges to use in and out of London. For years before the London sewerage system was inveted, while sewerage in other places was tipped out into the street to go down the gutters (Trenches that led to the rivers), London being a crowded place obviously had problems, so they would for centuries take the sewerage out of the city in canal barges.
Now there were gas lamps in the streets, and the gas from the sewerage would on occasions explode blowing up the barge and endangering the lives of those who worked them. Due to this they needed to introduce ways in which the gas fumes could dissperse without being a threat to life by causing an explosion.
A method of safe working was adopted where the sewerage could be well vented so the as would have already been removed by the time they took the barges through the sections that passed the street lamps, which was done at night as no one wanted a barge of that stuff pass in the daytime! This method was to store the sewerage high in tiers, and the staff who worked these barges were given the instructions "Store High In Tiers", which became known as "s**t", and it is why we associate our number twos with the abbreviated term.


The "swot" thing might be right (never heard the term before).


But the rest are all nonsense. They are all examples of "folk etymology". Stories folks make up to explain word origins. Nothing to do with the actual word origins.

The S-bomb is an ancient AngloSaxon word that goes back to the common origins of the Germanic languages. It is related to the German word "schizen" which means the same thing.

Most folk etymologies involve acronyms- words created out of initials (like "UFO" and "NASA"). Acronyms were almost NEVER used in the English language prior to the 20th Century. So any story you hear that "such and such word" was created by the initials such and such is likely BS.

So all these stories we all hear about how "s**t" came from S. H. I. T. which stands for [some four word phrase], or that the F bomb came from F. U. C. K. ("for unlawful carnal knowledge" or like that ) are all nonsense.

Also..

You have a problem with the expression "the day before yesterday"? The day AFTER yesterday would be "today". But the day before yesterday would be... "the day before yesterday" (there aint no other way to say it).



Last edited by naturalplastic on 03 Aug 2020, 9:19 am, edited 3 times in total.

Wolfram87
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03 Aug 2020, 6:10 am

Etymology*


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