Thursday, December 8, 2011

Beats a Snowball?

When I left you last, we were talking about the weather being "cold as flugens." That was a favorite expression of my daddy's.  According to /general-discussion/flugens/, "it functions as an intensifier."  An entry can also be found in The Dictionary of American Regional English (vol. 2); Frederic G. Cassidy, Joan Houston Hall (eds.); 1991; the President and Fellows of Harvard University.  The word is chiefly Southern. The earliest example dates to 1830.  One of the 1954 references mention that the word "is not common, but still heard."  It's heard around our house. 

All this talk about origins of expressions came from two sources. As I said yesterday, my sister-in-law suggested it last weekend. Just before I saw her, my husband and I had a heated discussion about a phrase their daddy used.

We got a new television for the upstairs bedroom. The one we were watching was a leftover from my horse showing days. It was in the living quarters of our trailer. It was fine there, but when you put it across the room, it is like watching TV on the back of a cereal box.

So, as we were hooking the set up, Howard notes the picture quality isn't as good as it is downstairs, "But," he says, "It beats a snowball."

What?  What in the world are you talking about? He thought everybody had heard that expression and knew what it meant.  "My daddy said it.  Your daddy said it," he said. "You beats a snowball."

This longhorn steer ornament on our Christmas tree looks like he has had nothing to eat but snowballs. 

I'm beginning to think dementia has set in.  So I researched it, and this is what I found out. 
Evidently, it was found in beef cattle lingo and has agricultural origins. For example, a farmer might put out bad hay that the cows weren't excited about eating.  The farmer would say, "Well it beats a snowball."  

Howard reminded me that farmers used to say of a bad hay season, "Nothing to eat out there but fresh air and sunshine."  I must not have been paying attention when feeding was discussed in my farming household.

I have more from my family and my in-laws, but what about yours?  Give me some input. 

1 comment:

  1. Some of you are telling me they are having trouble leaving comments. I will try to repost when I can.

    This from Terry Pegram:

    Oh, brother......I'll think on it.... word origins, especially southern are really amusing to me. My maternal grandmother would sometimes use this expression, "Don't send a small boy to plow." What do you make of that one? I still use it. I said it to my husband the other night and he said he had never heard it, but he knew for a fact it was true because when he was a little boy he would watch his daddy plow his mules. The rows Pap plowed were as straight as an arrow. Joe, at about the age of eight asked his daddy if he could try it. Of course his row meandered all over the field and Pap said he reckoned that would be enough of that for a couple of years. So, literally, that saying is grandmother didn't mean it literally, of course. She meant when there is a job to be done you had better be darn sure you get the right person for the job....or it could even refer to how much castor oil one was to take..."Don't send small boy to plow". See what you can find out about grandmother was born in 1895 in Lewisburg, Mississippi.