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Myths and legends
18

growingolddicustingly · 28/01/2014 18:30

I enjoy looking up the origins of words and phrases. For many years I took it as a truth that the Elephant and Castle was a corruption of Infanta de Castile, the Spanish princess who was engaged to King Charles I.

However, the prohibition of this marriage by the Church in the 1620s led to war with Spain so it seems unlikely to have been a popular name.

A more likely explanation is that the name derives from the arms of the Worshipful Company of Cutlers, the London trade guild which has an elephant carrying a castle-shaped howdah (lovely word in itself).

So what other common myths do you know about the origins of words and phrases?

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HoratiaDrelincourt · 28/01/2014 18:49

Most acronyms aren't - eg "port out starboard home" for posh, "council house and violent" for chav. Nope.

An adder was definitely once a nadre though.

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MardyBra · 28/01/2014 18:54

And, by the same token, a nickname was an ekename afaik.

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MardyBra · 28/01/2014 18:57

I'd bought the Infanta de Castilla myth growing. Thanks for that.

I once heard that the expression "raining cats and dogs" came from the Spanish "a cantaros", but a quick google suggests it's a raining animals thing. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Raining_animals#.22Raining_cats_and_dogs.22

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alexpolistigers · 28/01/2014 19:01

I seem to remember that "chav" was of Romany origin, but I'd have to check to be sure.

I love looking at all these myths, some folk etymology can be great. I've looked at some on my blog from time to time.

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HandragsNGladbags · 28/01/2014 19:03

Doesn't it rain chickens in France? Or have I made that up?

Nadre is the old English for snake I think? Again I may have made this up Grin

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TawdryTatou · 28/01/2014 19:11

I read that 'chav' comes from the Romany 'charver' for 'child'.

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VikingLady · 28/01/2014 19:46

A scouse friend used to call what are now called "chavs" "charvers". Many, many years ago.

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Bonsoir · 28/01/2014 19:48

In France it rains ropes (il pleut des cordes)

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IdaArnold · 28/01/2014 19:53

In the north-east they use the word 'charver' rather than 'chav' too. Not sure how long that goes back though.

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growingolddicustingly · 28/01/2014 20:21

To take a slight detour on my thread I am an Essex girl so "Hello me old mush " is in my lexicon. From the Romany mush = mate.

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alexpolistigers · 28/01/2014 20:27

I haven't heard the term "mush" before, that's an interesting one.

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MardyBra · 28/01/2014 20:30

"To swing a cat" - often cited as a naval term derived from the cat'o-nine-tails. But possibly just an anti-feline sentiment.

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onetiredmummy · 28/01/2014 20:30

This isn't a legend, this is true. Due to the American town of Buffalo, the animal bison being misidentified as a buffalo and an American slang term 'to buffalo ' meaning to bully, the following is a correct grammatical sentence:

Buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo, buffalo buffalo buffalo

Smile

Also from the same buffalo word derived from the condition of the skin we get the phrases 'in the buff' and someone good looking, looking 'buff' and more but I'm poorly with a muffle head and can't remember the others . I could look it up if you're interested.

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alexpolistigers · 28/01/2014 20:36

I thought I had written about "swing a cat", but I've just checked, and it was "skin a cat". Oh well.

It's not from cat o' nine tails, the earliest citations for that are after citations for the "swing a cat" expression. I think English speakers hated cats! We skinned them, stuffed them into bags from which they had to be let out, we swung them...

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growingolddicustingly · 28/01/2014 20:44

onetiredmummy my head has just exploded trying to understand that! And yes, I am interested thank you, please.

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MardyBra · 28/01/2014 23:15

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HoratiaDrelincourt · 28/01/2014 23:22

Count English words to describe rain, and you'll quickly run out of fingers and toes Grin

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onetiredmummy · 29/01/2014 11:34

growing Right if bison from the city Buffalo were bullied by other bison from the same city who went & took their frustration out on yet other bison from the same city then you have:

Buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo

(Buffalo bison [whom] Buffalo bison bully [then] bully Buffalo bison)

:)

From the word buffalo we also get the verb 'to buff' & film buffs along with the other buffs I mentioned before.

This is from a great book called The Etymologicon by Mark Forsyth who tells you more about word's meanings than any sane person could possibly want to know :)

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