Tuesday, November 16, 2010

I hear America. Say what?

I was pondering the phrase 'long in the tooth' yesterday, wondering how it came to mean 'old'.  Then I remembered that curse of middle age, receding gums. Duh.  This leads me to the fabulous reference book I Hear America Talking.  What say we explore American language this week?   First up:  "cow catcher".  In the beginning trains ran over cows, which was good for neither party.  In 1832 Isaac Drips invented a guard for the front of the train.  The first versions were too sharp and too high and the cows wound up, ahem, attached to the train if you get my meaning.  The guards were re-designed to be blunter and push the cow aside.  The public also called these protectors of the rails 'horse catchers' but we know what they were for.  Cows.  They just don't get out of the way.

I Hear America Talking

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