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Phrase origins

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  • Phrase origins

    Time to lighten up. This is something I find interesting, and I expect many of you will. Every once in a while, we hear about the origins of certain phrases. Yesterday, my wife asked me if I knew where "kangaroo court" came from. My answer...."No". She told me she read about the early days in OZ (she always has her nose in a book), when they had court hearings, with a predetermined outcome, they were held in the outback country. When people would gather for court, kangaroos would come, and sit there, as if they were interested in the outcome of the case. Hence, the origins of "kangaroo court". I found this to be interesting, so I decided to see what I could find on the web about it. Everything I found said that there was no clear origin of the phrase, but it is likely that it came from America during the gold rush days. But I enjoyed her version better. Do you have any phrase origins to offer?


  • #2
    He offers nothing new on kangaroo courts, but this is an excellent opportunity to recommend an excellent site on words and phrase origins.
    Learn by teaching
    Take responsibility for learning


    • #3
      On the origins of the English language

      I don't have the exact quote, but it comes from Merriam Webster himself:

      English is the result of Norman soldiers trying to pick-up Saxon bar maids...



      • #4
        Cool site Doug. Thanks.



        • #5
          Hi Ed, I get Mailbits trivia delivered to my in-box every morning and this is the one for today:

          "How did bulldoze come to mean, "intimidate?"

          Is this obvious, or what? The image is clear: Here comes a big, powerful
          piece of earth-moving machinery and if you persist in standing in its way,
          it will expedite your return to the dust from whence you came.

          There?s only one problem: We don?t get the term from the machine -- if
          anything, the name of the machine was derived from a previous word that
          meant to intimidate and bully. That word began around 1875 as ?bulldose,?
          and it referred to beating someone with the ferocity - the dose, or amount
          of force -- that would be required to make a bull cower. It may have
          originated in the South in the period after the Civil War as a term whites
          used to describe a means by which they continued to dominate the region?s
          black population. The use of ?bulldozer? to describe a machine dates from
          about 1930."

          I'm always interesting in words and how they came to have the meanings they do - I hadn't heard that about "kangaroo court" but I had fun looking it up.



          • #6
            Very interesting. We need more!



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