Hello, lovely readers!
I’m going to be taking this week off the blog…and will be migrating it to my website. So if you’re visiting right now, you may see a few hiccups as I get everything transferred. But after that, it should (I hope and pray!) all just go automatically there. Say a prayer for me, LOL.
Thanks for your patience!
Today I’m going to examine the origin of a particular phrase rather than a particular word. 😉 Back in the day when I originally examined this, as I was working on Whispers from the Shadows, my hero was exclaiming something about how it was time to take action himself, since those who ought to be continued to…
Sit on their hands?
Twiddle their thumbs?
Do nothing, but that was far too boring an option for his current state of mind. So Roseanna headed to www.etymonline.com
I was somewhat surprised to find sit on one’s hands in the
listing, because, well, I figured “sit” would have about a thousand
idioms associated with it and didn’t know if that would make the cut.
But in fact, it was one of the few they included. And it certainly wasn’t around in 1814, when Whispers takes place. No, to sit on one’s hands comes from the notion of doing so to withhold applause and originated in 1926. Not until the ’50s did it get extended to “do nothing; be
So Thad certainly couldn’t be accusing the politicians of sitting on their hands. What, then?
The next phrase to leap into mind was twiddling their thumbs. Here I got closer. Twiddle is from the 1540s, when it meant “to trifle.” But the notion of twiddling one’s thumbs, i.e., having nothing to do, didn’t emerge until the 1840s. Closer, closer. But not quite there.
But in the entry for twiddle was the earlier phrase that twiddle one’s thumbs replaced–to twirl one’s thumbs. Ah! Fun. Enough of a variation to sound old-fashioned to us, but still recognizable. And from . . . 1816.
At first sight, argh. Because that’s two years past my date. But then I remembered that etymonline.com uses the first written appearance (because what else could they possibly go on?) and in those days, a phrase usually appeared in writing several years after it had entered the common spoken vernacular. So I decided that was close enough, and my up-to-the-minute hero could well be using a newfangled,
popular phrase that his father would be less likely to try out. 😉
And so a few key politicians in Washington City are twirling their thumbs. And Thad has decided it’s time to do himself what they refuse
Happy Memorial Day, all! Enjoy some idle time today. Sit on your hands for a
while, guilt-free. Or better still, pick up a good book. 😀
In last weekend’s sermon, my dad preached from Luke 14, and as he went through the Scriptures, something interesting jumped out at me.
First is something that has struck me many times before, in many different passages. Jesus, often about some other task, comes across someone in need. Sometimes He’s at dinner. Sometimes He’s traveling. Sometimes He’s on his way to heal someone else. And what does He always, inevitably do when He sees this other hurting soul? He stops. He heals them. Why?
Because He loves them. Because He feels compassion for them. Because He’s moved.
I tend to think of these things as human emotions–and they are. But I wonder if maybe they’re also the reflection of the Divine in us. Because Jesus, operating solely as man, might have instead resented the distraction or the complication or the delay. If He weren’t perfect, He might have rolled his eyes or grumbled or even muttered under his breath, “Seriously? Another one?” But He doesn’t–ever. Because these things–love, compassion, empathy–are considered virtues, are in fact the Fruit we’re supposed to bear as believers, for good reason.
They’re a reflection of God himself, who is Love.
But we see another side to this too, in that same chapter as well as other places in the Gospels. The places where Jesus warns us that the cost of following Him is high. When He tells us that choosing this Way means abandoning others–that embracing God as Father may mean a break with our earthly one. Where He says that He will come between mother and child. And here, He even says that following Him means hating your family (or “loving them less” as the word means in Greek).
I’ve long since reasoned out that what He’s saying here is that He has to come first. Loving God before anything else is crucial. And if we love other things more–our spouses, our kids, our extended families, our house, our things, our life–then He may well ask us to give those up. Because nothing–NOTHING–should come between us and Him.
Here’s the interesting twist though. How do we show our love for Him, how do we reflect His love for us?
By loving, serving each other.
You see the conundrum? LOL. We have to love what is OURS less than Him…so that we can love what is HIS without reservation. Now, there are surely overlaps–because our spouses and kids and parents and cousins are His too.
But am I willing to serve only them in certain ways? Will I take the food from another child’s mouth to give it to mine? Do I consider these people in my life more mine than His? To do so is natural. Human.
To not do so is, I think, divine.
Don’t get me wrong–God created families, and they’re a crucial part of His plan. He calls us to protect them and preserve them and keep them in good order, as building blocks of His Church. But He also calls us to define “family” through His eyes. To see mothers and fathers, sisters, and brothers everywhere there is faith in Him. To love the stranger, the neighbor, as much as we love ourselves, our own. To prove our love for Him by loving them.
I tend to hold my emotions close, my thoughts and fears, tight. I am, as the English of eras gone by would have said, “reserved.” But I’m praying that God will work on my heart in this way. That I will learn to make myself vulnerable so that I can see friends–brothers, sisters–everywhere I turn.
And so that when I see them hurting, I can’t help but stop. And do everything in HIS power to make them whole, with no thought to myself.
Maybe it’s not a conundrum after all. Just a challenge. One He put forth oh so succinctly. Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind. And love your neighbor as yourself.
Originally published 10/15/2012
Okay, y’all, I originally posted this seven and a half years ago, and my call for actual evidence to support the claim below netted me nothing but others who were curious, LOL. So I’m trying again–because this claim has since even appeared on Big Bang Theory, touted by Sheldon. So, seriously, people. Someone defend the claim, or I shall be forced to call Sheldon a liar. 😂
So here’s the deal. I’ve heard from quite a few sources that we moderns are misusing the word nauseous. That it ought not to mean “to feel sick or queasy” but that it rather means “to cause a feeling of nausea.”
Now, I’ve heard this from sources I trust, but they never quote their sources, and I’m now on a quest to figure out why in the world this is touted as grammatical fact and, more, as a “modern mistake” when every dictionary I look it up in says that nauseous has carried both meanings (“to feel sick” and “to make sick”) since 1600-1610.
One dictionary I found says “careful writers will use nauseated for the feeling of queasiness and reserve nauseous for ‘sickening to contemplate.'” I’m okay with being careful, really I am, but I’m still unsure why grammarians are saying that using its original meaning is “a mistake of the moderns.” It is, in fact, the first definition of the word in the OED.
So. Calling all grammarians! 😉 If you learned it this way and could point me to a source (not just an expert like the wonderful Grammar Girl, mind you) that states this as fact, I would be very grateful. I don’t mind changing my ways to be a “careful” writer–but I’m a Johnnie
. I don’t ever accept an expert’s opinion without checking out their sources. 😉