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Spilling the Beans on the Cat's Pajamas [NOOK Book]

Overview

"Make no bones about it"--here's a "grand slam" for anyone seeking the meanings of catch phrases and quotes that enrich our everyday speech. It "rounds up the usual suspects"--hundreds of expressions that keep our language flourishing--and makes them easy to find in an A-to-Z format. If "all goes according to plan," you'll soon know:
The expressions "all that glitters is not gold" and "apple of the eye" have each been in use for more than 1,000 years. "To bark up the wrong tree" comes from the sport of raccoon ...
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Spilling the Beans on the Cat's Pajamas

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Overview

"Make no bones about it"--here's a "grand slam" for anyone seeking the meanings of catch phrases and quotes that enrich our everyday speech. It "rounds up the usual suspects"--hundreds of expressions that keep our language flourishing--and makes them easy to find in an A-to-Z format. If "all goes according to plan," you'll soon know:
The expressions "all that glitters is not gold" and "apple of the eye" have each been in use for more than 1,000 years. "To bark up the wrong tree" comes from the sport of raccoon hunting. "The big enchilada" was used to describe someone on the infamous Watergate tapes. "Flavor of the month" was a generic advertising phrase of the mid-1940s used to describe new ice cream flavors. "Baker's dozen" is 13, one more than the standard dozen, and goes back to medieval times, when Henry III called for the severe punishment of any bakers caught shortchanging customers. English bakers developed the habit of including an extra loaf of bread when asked for a dozen to ensure that they wouldn't be condemned. "Drop of a hat" alludes to the frontier practice of dropping a hat as a signal for a boxing or wrestling match to begin, usually the only formality observed. "Sleep tight" dates back to when beds were made of rope and straw. Before going to sleep at night, people would have to pull the ropes tight, as they would have loosened during the course of the previous night's sleep.
With this clever book on hand, you'll never have to "throw in the towel" during a battle of wits. Make this and all of the Blackboard Books(tm) a permanent fixture on your shelf, and you'll have instant access to a breadth of knowledge. Whether you need homework help or want to win that trivia game, this series is the trusted source for fun facts.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781606522844
  • Publisher: Reader's Digest Association, Incorporated, The
  • Publication date: 10/19/2010
  • Sold by: SIMON & SCHUSTER
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 176
  • Sales rank: 694,826
  • File size: 711 KB

Meet the Author

Judy Parkinson is a graduate of Bristol University. She is a producer of documentaries, music videos, and commercials, and won a Clio award for a Greenpeace ad. Parkinson has published four books and has contributed to a show of life drawings at the Salon des Arts, Kensington. She lives in London.
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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Posted January 21, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    9 out of 10 stars

    What an absolute delight! You don't know how ecstatic I was to be able to review Spilling the Beans on the Cat's Pajamas by Judy Parkinson. I love word reference books like these -- read them on a train, a bus, whatever, and be able to enjoy it all the way through! The alphabetical listing was so facile; I could look up my favorite euphemisms and scan through the book to catch interesting words, and since there were no chapters like most reference books, I could be satisfied with reading about just one phrase, and move on to the next. Maybe it's because of my love for the English language, or maybe it's just because I'm such a curious person, but it was so fascinating to learn about common, everyday phrases I normally say without a second thought. Each article would list the definition of the expression, it's origin, and sometimes even a direct quotation from the said source. In honor of the book, I'll give you excerpts on the two title expressions, as well as my all-time favorite :)
    Spill the Beans
    The expression beans "to let on," to tell all -- perhaps prematurely, to an eager audience, to give away a secret, or "to let the cat out of the bag" (which is evidently, a whole nother story).
    There are various explanations for the derivation, one of the most colorful being that it may have originated at the turn of the twentieth century as a euphemism for vomiting, because beans represent basic food.
    Another possibility is that the phrase comes from the ancient Greek voting practices, where black and white beans were used to represent agreement and disagreement with the issue being voted on. Each voter put one bean into a pot or helmet and the result was revealed by spilling the beans.
    The Cat's Pajamas
    This colloquialism first surfaced in the 1920s to describe something or someone superlatively good or top-notch and has retained its meaning for almost a hundred years.
    Alternative sources suggest that the phrase may come from an early nineteenth-century English tailor E. B. Katz, who apparently made the finest silk pajamas, though there is little evidence to prove this is true.
    Cute as a Button
    To be charming, pretty, or attractive in a dainty way, almost always with the connotation of being small.
    This often used simile sounds odd when you think about it. After all, how is it that a button is cute? That's debatable. Some say the "button" referred to here is not the kind you find on a shirt but actually the flower bud on a bachelor's button. Others insist the phrase refers to the button quail, and adorable little gray, fluffy bird.
    Definitely one of the most entertaining reference books I've had the privilege of picking up. Totally recommend it!

    6 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

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