Post details: List-er-ino Fridays: Kicking the bucket and biting the bullet while my balls are to the wall...


Permalink 12:56:09 pm, by Email , 1198 words   English (CA)
Categories: List-er-ino Fridays

List-er-ino Fridays: Kicking the bucket and biting the bullet while my balls are to the wall...

Sue, our little one, and myself were discussing kicking the bucket.

Wow, that sounds harsh... lemme 'splain...

We were discussing the ORIGINS of the phrase/idiom "Kick the Bucket".

Well, we found out the possible origins... and then, I found out a few more you may OR MAY NOT be aware of... here's a LIST OF FIVE (with bonus) for you!

Anyone need an advocate?

Devil's Advocate

To play the Devil's Advocate means to argue against something you know to be true.

Hypothetically, let's say you're dead... and many people think you lived a good Catholic life. In fact, they want YOU to be canonized! Yup, you're off to becoming Saint So-and-So, The Patron Saint of the Blogsphere!

Well, everyone's up for this in the college of Cardinals at the Vatican... saved one important person...

It's this Cardinal's job to find the DIRT on you! (Oh, and WE KNOW there's dirt!!!) Their job is to find every hole in your saintly past and find every reason why YOU shouldn't be a saint at all and present their arguments to the other Cardinals.

Guess what this person's called?

You go it... they are The Devil's Advocate!

Egads! Not THOSE against this WALL!!!

Balls to the Wall

To push oneself to the limits... to press forward in any task at great speed an exertion.

Sound naughty, doesn't it... and the word "cock" does factor into the explanation too!

It's likely origins are in aviation... and the throttle on an aircraft. When pilot's push a throttle full forward (to gain the maximum speed,) the "balls" at the end of the throttle usually connect with something... so to throw the "balls to the wall in a cockpit means to throttle up as hard and fast as a pilot can.

Granted, I found that the origin might ALSO be similar, but from "steam trains" and their throttles... but I prefer the aviation one... and it's as likely a candidate as well!

Ten Little Toesies

Toe the Line

To toe the line means to fall into place in an action or a thought. To adopt the expected manners for a group or person.

This has MANY possibilities that may or may not be correct...

One is to do with the "line" that was on the old "trap-door/long-drop" gallows that prisoners would need to have their "toe" on... basically, if they didn't toe the line, they might not drop properly.

Another is to do with military inspections... a line of soldiers during inspections MUST be in as perfect a line (PERFECT!) as possible. I don't know about this one as I never drilled with the military with a "drawn line", but it's possible.

The last one has to do with boxing... back in the more "gentlemanly days" of the bare-fisted pugilists, they would have two lines separating the boxers at arm's length... if things were getting out of hand, the referee would tell the boxers to "Toe the line!" meaning to separate to the lines to restore the bout.

Don't Eat Me!

Bite the Bullet

To bite the bullet is to tough something out... to absorb punishment towards a hopefully better end.

This one stems from soft lead.

During times of war before anaesthetics were in use, a soldier who was having "surgery" (read: Usually an amputation) was given something to bite down on... so when the pains hit, they'd chomp down on something other than their tongues! Most of the time, it was a piece of leather or clothe, but the popular "thought" was they'd bite a soft, lead musket ball.

It's not impossible that this was the case... in fact, many people "way back when" I'm sure bit a bullet or two, but in my studies, hard leather was more common... still, there are stories of men biting musket balls in half or leaving bad teeth marks in them and keeping the "bit bullet" as a souvenir of their ordeal.

A Blunder-Bus?

Flash in the Pan

Flash in the pan refers to a person or trend that blossoms quickly then dies just as rapidly.


In order to fire an old fashioned musket or "black powder" rifle, you needed to "prime the pan"... this means shake a little powder into a small bowl-like thing near the hammer of the gun. What would happen is your hammer would have a piece of flint in it... this would strike a "frizzen" (a piece of metal near above the pan) to make a spark... the spark ignites the powder in the pan which "flashes", hopefully sending a small bit of the flash and fire of the powder through a hole and igniting the powder and shot in the barrel of the gun.

More often than not, however, something would go wrong and you'd only get "a flash in the pan"... no shot from the musket or rifle... causing the shooter to re-load.

So, a flash in the pan, though momentarily spectacular, really amounted to nothing.

SEE! I made it through that one without being too naughty and discussing how to cock the gun!

Nice Sleep in a Nice Box

BONUS - Kick the Bucket!

To be passed on. To be no more. To ceased to be. To expire and go to meet one's maker. To be late. To be a stiff. Bereft of life. To rest in peace. To be pushing up the daisies. To run down the curtain and join the choir invisible. To be an "ex-human".

This one has two possibilities... one that makes sense and is easy and one that is a little more difficult to take...

The easy one comes from the "back-in-the-day" thought that in order to hang oneself, they would stand on a metal bucket, affix a noose, and then "kick the bucket" away.

The less comprehensible one in some ways is that a "yoke" (or wooden balance beam) was once called a buque from the French for balance... these beams were even referred to in old English as "buckets"... and were often used to hang animals that had been or were in the process of being slaughtered by their legs thus we get the "meaning"... the animal's legs would "kick the bucket" as they were dispatched.


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Comment from: MsDemmie [Visitor] Email ·
Talking of kicking the bucket ...... there was this unfortunate story today on the BBC
PermalinkPermalink 05/18/07 @ 17:56
Comment from: admin [Member] Email ·
Hey MsDemmie... and egads! I think the words "freak accident" now have another story as a definition! How awful!
PermalinkPermalink 05/18/07 @ 21:00



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