Quote of the Day

Monday, October 15, 2012

Purple patch


1. A period of excellent performance, where nearly everything seems to go right, work properly, and contrasting with a more general lower level of performance.

The England team hit a purple patch just after half-time, where they scored 3 goals in 10 minutes, but in the end they were lucky to escape with a 3-3 draw.

2. An ornate or elaborate section of a written work, a patch of purple prose.

Purple prose is a term of literary criticism used to describe passages, or sometimes entire literary works, written in prose so extravagant, ornate, or flowery as to break the flow and draw attention to itself. Purple prose is sensually evocative beyond the requirements of its context. It also refers to writing that employs certain rhetorical effects such as exaggerated sentiment or pathos in an attempt to manipulate a reader's response.

When it is limited to certain passages, they may be termed purple patches or purple passages; these are often noted as standing out from the rest of the work.

The term purple patch is also used in a more general, and more unequivocally positive, sense to refer to a period of outstanding achievement. This usage is particularly common in sporting contexts in some countries; for example, a footballer who had scored in six successive games might be said to be "enjoying a purple patch".

The term "purple prose" is derived from a reference by the Roman poet Horace (Quintus Horatius Flaccus, 65–8 BC) who wrote in his Ars Poetica (lines 14-21):

Inceptis grauibus plerumque et magna professis
purpureus, late qui splendeat, unus et alter
adsuitur pannus, cum lucus et ara Dianae
et properantis aquae per amoenos ambitus agros
aut flumen Rhenum aut pluuius describitur arcus;
sed nunc non erat his locus. Et fortasse cupressum
scis simulare; quid hoc, si fractis enatat exspes
nauibus, aere dato qui pingitur?

Your opening shows great promise, and yet flashy
purple patches; as when describing
a sacred grove, or the altar of Diana,
or a stream meandering through fields,
or the river Rhine, or a rainbow;
but this was not the place for them. If you can realistically render
a cypress tree, would you include one when commissioned to paint
a sailor in the midst of a shipwreck?

Purpureus meant lustrous or dazzling in Horace's Latin.

source: wikipedia, wiktionary

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Rest on one's laurels


Rest on one's laurels

  • (idiomatic) To rely on a past success instead of trying to improve oneself further.
Despite our success, this is no time to rest on our laurels. We rested on our laurels too long. Our competitors took away a lot of our business.

source: wiktionary, idioms.thefreedictionary.com

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Man's best friend

Man's best friend is a catchphrase for dogs, generally referring to the category as a whole.

The popularization of the term is said to have occurred in a courtroom speech by George Graham Vest in Warrensburg, Missouri in 1870 who said,

The one absolutely unselfish friend that a man can have in this selfish world, the one that never deserts him and the one that never proves ungrateful or treacherous is his dog.

The phrase was later shortened to man’s best friend.

Vest's speech came at the closing of a trial in which he was representing a farmer who was suing for damages after his dog Old Drum was shot by a neighbor.

source: wikipedia

Monday, October 8, 2012

Jack of All Trades


jack of all trades (plural jacks of all trades)

(idiomatic) One competent in many endeavors, especially one who excels in none of them.

1618, Geffray Minshull, Essayes and characters of a prison and prisoners:

Now for the most part your porter is either some broken cittizen, who hath plaid Jack-of-all-trades, some pander, broker, or hangman, that hath plaid the knaue with all men, and for the more certainty his embleme is a red beard, to which facke hath made his nose cousin german.

1861, Charles Dickens, Great Expectations, ch. 25:

"I am my own engineer, and my own carpenter, and my own plumber, and my own gardener, and my own Jack of all Trades," said Wemmick.

1912, Mary Roberts Rinehart, Where There's A Will, Ch. 5:

A fellow can always get some sort of a job—I was coming up here to see if they needed an extra clerk or a waiter, or chauffeur, or anything that meant a roof and something to eat—but I suppose they don't need a jack-of-all-trades.


factotum, handyman, sciolist


1610s, from sense Jack (“man (generic term)”). Originally a term of praise (competent in many endeavors), today generally used disparagingly, with emphasis on (implied or stated) “master of none”, as in later longer form jack of all trades, master of none.

First attested in Essayes and characters of a prison and prisoners, by Geffray Minshull, published 1618 (written 1612), as Jack-of-all-trades.

Jack of all trades, master of none is a figure of speech used in reference to a person that is competent with many skills but is not necessarily outstanding in any particular one.

The earliest recorded versions of the phrase do not contain the second part. Indeed they are broadly positive in tone. Such a Jack of all trades may be a master of integration, as such an individual knows enough from many learned trades and skills to be able to bring their disciplines together in a practical manner. This person is a generalist rather than a specialist. A person who is exceptional in many disciplines is known as a polymath or a "Renaissance man"; a typical example is Leonardo da Vinci. The phrase became increasingly cynical in connotation during the 20th century.

A female person of this kind is being described as Jill of All Trades.

In Elizabethan English the quasi-New Latin term Johannes factotum ("Johnny do-it-all") was sometimes used, with the same negative connotation that Jack of all trades sometimes has today.

The term was famously used by Robert Greene in his 1592 booklet Greene's Groats-Worth of Wit, in which he dismissively refers to William Shakespeare with this term, the first published mention of the writer.

In 1612, the English language version of the phrase appeared in the book Essays and Characters of a Prison by English writer Geffray Mynshul originally published in 1618, and probably based on the author's experience while held at Gray's Inn, London, when imprisoned for debt.

Mynshul uses only the first half of the phrase in the book, which may indicate that the phrase was in common usage at the time he wrote his account. Indeed, the jack of all trades part of the phrase was in common use during the 17th century and was generally used as a term of praise. 'Jack' in those days was a generic term for 'man'.

The 'master of none' element appears to have been added later and the expression ceased to be very flattering.

Today, the phrase used in its entirety generally describes a person whose knowledge, while covering a number of areas, is superficial in all of them, whilst when abbreviated as simply jack of all trades is more ambiguous and the user's intention may vary, dependent on context.

In North America, the phrase has been in use since 1721, typically in its short form.

The phrase is occasionally extended further into a rhyming couplet which restores the earlier positive meaning,

Jack of all trades, master of none,
Certainly better than a master of one

Other versions appear as:

Jack of all trades, master of none,
Oftimes better than a master of one
Jack of all trades, master of none,
Better than Jack of 1 trade, master of none
Jack of all trades, master of none,
Or a few or a lot, like the Rennaissance man

Another way to counter-act the negative tone of the "master of none" part, is to change it to "Jack of all trades, master of some", which leans more towards the "Renaissance man" sort of person.

source: wikipedia, wiktionary

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Daft as a brush


daft as a brush (not comparable)

Describes someone who is known to do and say silly things.

source: wiktionary

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Eeny, meeny, miny, moe


A children's counting-out game.

Eeny, meeny, miny, moe which can be spelled a number of ways, is a children's counting rhyme, used to select a person to be "it" for games (such as tag) and similar purposes such as counting out a child that has to be stood down from a group of children as part of a playground game.

It is one of a large group of similar 'Counting-out rhymes' where the child pointed-to by the chanter on the last syllable is 'counted out'.

The rhyme has existed in various forms since well before 1820 and is common in many languages with similar-sounding nonsense syllables.

Since many similar counting rhymes existed earlier, it is difficult to ascertain this rhyme's exact origin.


The first American record of a similar rhyme is from about 1815, when children in New York are said to have repeated the rhyme:

Hana, man, mona, mike;
Barcelona, bona, strike;
Hare, ware, frown, vanac;
Harrico, warico, we wo, wac.

The rhyme seems to have been unknown in England among collectors until the late nineteenth century, although it was found by Henry Bolton in the US, Ireland and Scotland in the 1880s. He also found a similar rhyme in German:

Ene, tene, mone, mei,
Pastor, lone, bone, strei,
Ene, fune, herke, berke,
Wer? Wie? Wo? Was?

The most common English form seems to be:

Eena, Meena, Mona, My,
Barcelona, Bona, stry,
Air, ware, frum, dy,
Aracy, baraca, we, wo, wack

but there is a well-entrenched version, collected from Durham:

Eena meena mina mo,
Where do all the Frenchmen go?
To the East and to the West,
To the bonny birdie's nest;
Apples in the garden,
fishes in the sea,
if you want a pretty girl
please choose me!

Variations of this rhyme, with the nonsense/counting first line have been collected since the 1820s, such as this Scottish one:

Hickery Pickery, pease scon
Where will this young man gang?
He'll go east, he'll go west,
he'll go to the crow's nest.
Hickery Pickery, Hickery Pickery

More recognizable as a variation, which even includes the 'toe' and 'olla' from Kipling's version is

Eenie, Meenie, Tipsy, toe;
Olla bolla Domino,
Okka, Pokka dominocha,
Hy! Pon! Tush!

which was one of many variants of 'counting out Rhymes' collected by Bolton in 1888.

A Cornish version runs:

Ena, mena, mona, mite,
Bascalora, bora, bite,
Hugga, bucca, bau,
Eggs, butter, cheese, bread.
Stick, stock, stone dead - OUT.

Another possibility is that the British occupiers of India brought a doggerel version of an Indian children's rhyme used in the game of carom billiards:

ubi eni mana bou,
baji neki baji thou,
elim tilim latim gou.

Another version of this type of rhyme heard sung in English by children in Bombay in 1986 and 1987 and written down by Glen Dryhurst during several business trips was:

Eena, meena, maca-roni,
dee, dye, domi-nony,
It's half past ten,
an old lady came,
she called my name,
is my name.

On saying that last word, the child pointed to was either: "in", "out" or "it" as the case may be.

One theory about the origins of the rhyme is that it is descended from Old English or Welsh counting, similar to the old Shepherd's count "Yan Tan Tethera" or the Cornish "Eena, mea, mona, mite".

There are similar examples of children's rhymes that were collected in England that are more obviously counting rhymes up to ten, such as 'Ya, ta, tethera, pethera, pip, Slata, lata, covera, dovera, dick'.

David Zincavage asserts that the origin is Scottish and posits that the first line of the verse is a corruption of Inimicus animo, a Latin phrase that translates as "enemy of the soul."

The second line uses "nigger" and this goes to early depictions of the devil as black, as opposed to the modern red; we still have references to darkness as being evil.

If you catch the devil by the toe, it won't cause his cloven hoof any pain. If, instead, you've pinched a human's toe instead, he'll yelp, and since you have made a mistake in identifying him, you should release him.

There are considerable variations in the lyrics of the rhyme, including from early twentieth century in the United States of America:

Eeny, meeny, miny moe,
Catch a tiger by the toe.
If he hollers make him pay,
Fifty dollars every day.

A distinct version of the rhyme in the United Kingdom, collected in the 1960s, is:

Eeeny, meeny, miney, mo.
Put the baby on the po.
When he's done,
Wipe his bum.
And tell his mother what he's done.

Versions collected in New Zealand in 2002 include:

Eeny, meeny, miny mangi,
Catch a mangi by the tangi.
If he squeals, steal his wheels,
Eeny, meeny, miny mangi.


Eeny, meeny, miny mit,
Catch your girlfriend by the tit.
If she slips, kiss her lips,
Eeny, meeny, miny mit.

source: wikipedia, wiktionary

Tuesday, October 2, 2012


hardhearted (comparative more hardhearted, superlative most hardhearted)
  1. Lacking in compassion; cold and pitiless.

  • hardheartedly (adv.)
  • hardheartedness (n.)

  • softhearted
  • tender-hearted

source: wiktionary
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