By Charles Earle Funk, Tom Funk
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Extra resources for 2107 Curious Word Origins, Sayings and Expressions from White Elephants to a Song & Dance
The expression must have been very popular in the early nineteenth century, especially 55 by writers of western life and tales, for in rapid succession it appeared in the works of James Hall, David Crockett, and Albert Pike. to hold the bag When one is left holding the bag he is being made the scapegoat, he has been left in an awkward predicament not of his own devising, or blamed for or punished for all the faults committed jointly by himself and others. George Washington may have been familiar with the saying during the Revolutionary War, for it was used by an American army officer, Major Royall Tyler, in literature for the first time, when, in 1 787, he wrote the first comedy to be written and pro duced in America.
This slang use is quite recent, developed within the current century, but it is a lineal descendant of "a big gun," dating from the middle of the last century, and which in 48 turn sprang from the union of "a great gun" and "a big bug" of the early nineteenth century. the lion's share Why this always means the greater part in any allotment, espe cially the part that one gives to the "boss" or that, in serving the dessert, mother apportions to father, takes us back to one of Aesop's fables. Two versions have come down to us, which is not surprising, for old Aesop is supposed merely to have told his fables, leaving it to others to write them out in later centuries.
Beatrice uses the same expression in Much Ado about Nothing. " But why spinsters were ever consigned to such an ignoble fate after death, and what was the source or the age of the proverb, were probably unknown even in Shakespeare's days. 53 to spill the beans To upset the plans; to relate something fully or prematurely; to let the cat out of the bag; to upset the apple cart. This American saying came into general use early in the present century, and, of course, the incident that gave rise to it, whatever it may have been, was not recorded.