Friday’s Phrase – An Introduction

Welcome to the new weekly series “Friday’s Phrase”.

Before I can begin the series, I wanted to lay the groundwork for what you can expect. I have always been fascinated with some of the unusual phrases we use commonly in the English Language. My initial idea was limited in scope to idioms. Idioms are unique as, by definition, they are a group of words established by usage as having a meaning not readily deducible from those of the individual words (e.g., rain cats and dogs, see the light).

And, although my love is idioms, I have not chosen the title by accident. I chose to use ‘phrase’ for two reasons. One, how can you not love the linguistic lilt of the shared ‘f’ pronunciation of ‘Friday’ and ‘phrase’? Two, idioms are very specific by definition. We already blur the meaning of the words idiom, adage, proverb, saying, axiom, maxim, aphorism, precept, truism, colloquialism, cliché, et al. And, as I have decided not to limit the series to idioms, I needed a more inclusive title. A ‘phrase’ is defined as a small group of words standing together as a conceptual unit. That generalization should fit all the above.

And idioms will surely abound but other phrases, that don’t meet that definition, will likely be attending the party. The phrase will need to meet one standard. It needs to be a readily recognized phrase for most people for whom English is their native tongue. I will endeavor to provide for each phrase, a definition, a history of its first use in print, the origins of the phrase (hopefully, removing fiction from the facts), and finally my own thoughts.

As a wordsmith, the origins or etymology of these sayings are a fascination for me. I hope you will find them educational, if not entertaining. If there is a saying you would like me to research, please feel free to leave a comment and I will do my best. I also encourage my readers to argue the accuracy, correct the usage, or provide other information by comment, as my research cannot be exhaustive, and etymology is rarely verifiable beyond first use in print.

What is the inaugural phrase we can look forward to next Friday? Alas, you will have to tune in to find out.


8 Responses to “Friday’s Phrase – An Introduction”
  1. How about :… “to bite the bullet”. Where does that come from?

  2. Sherry says:

    Very excited for this series as I teach figurative language to third graders.

  3. edward dougherty says:

    “Break a leg” in your newest endeavor. Meaning “good luck” not that I would wish you anything but the best of luck. Surely not literally wishing you break a leg. It’s a figure of speech kinda like an idiom……. wink wink !!

  4. Color me excited!

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