Saturday, June 30, 2007

What the Sam Hill is going on?

Balderdash and Piffle, BBC2's word origins programme is going from strength to strength.

It never ceases to amaze me how we use phrases without even thinking for a second what they mean or how they originate.

Last night's edition about people's names, which have become well-used terms, was fascinating.

Gordon Bennett. He was a famous media magnate, sportsman, and playboy in the early 1900s.

Bloody Mary. Although this is usually thought to be named after Queen Mary I, there is a school of thought that it was named after a girl at the Bucket of Blood Club in Chicago, where Fernand Petiot, the inventer of the cocktail had once worked.

Take the mickey. Thought to be connected to Mickey Bliss, whoever he was.

The programme didn't feature Sam in "What the Sam Hill is going on?" (A particular favourite of mine, by the way). The expression is thought to be connected to Colonel Samuel Hill of Connecticutt. It's not clear why.

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