The Alan Sondheim Mail Archive

Two classes of expressions of the antique.

Neither of these are clear, both fuzzy in fact, quite the thing. Please
add! In the first, old or antiquated words found mostly in particular
stylized expressions. In the second, phrases denoting antiquated meanings
in current context. Both classes, like the words 'outlaw,' 'breakfast,'
'goodbye,' etc. are tokens of past habitus. The boundaries are unclear,
quite the things themselves. Read on, add.

Old words for the most part no longer used independently of expression:

I'm on tenterhooks
hoisted by his own petard
gave him a good drubbing
gaping maw
snarf it down
two bits
stop horsing around
eating her curds and whey
sat on a tuffet
batten down the hatches
dressed to the nines
who killed cock-robin?

Atavistic expressions with ignored literal meaning:

a real blood-letting
was going a mile a minute
she's on the rag
fit as a fiddle
red-letter day
dressed to the hilt
it's on my dime
she was fleeced
button your britches
he's hysterical (funny)
excuse my dust
that and a nickel will get you a cup of coffee
pull the wool over his eyes
it was electrifying
toot your own horn
two bits to boot
six feet under
hustle your bustle
vamping it up
made quite a flap
was really steamed
her watch was ticking
on the stoke of midnight
in the limelight
his salad-days
nine-day wonder


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