What is the origin of the idiom "playing fast and loose"?
• a juggling trick using ropes performed in Roman times
• a Medieval cheating game involving sticks and belts
• the sordid sale of indulgences in the Catholic Church
Playing Fast and Loose invites the reader to guess the correct origin of common idioms. For each of the fifty idioms, three scenarios have been constructed. One scenario contains a short description of the likely origin of the phrase with some selected historical context that illustrates its usage. The other two scenarios also present short vignettes with factually correct historical citations; however, these two descriptions are not considered the likely origin of the phrase.
Dr. Smith has researched all the idioms in this book with the Google Books search engine. He read dozens of entries for each idiom, looking for evidence to support the origin of the idiom and for interesting and credible uses of the phrase to help create the two alternative scenarios. The three scenarios contain references to famous Greek and Latin authors from Homer and Aristotle to Seneca, Vergil, and Ovid; excerpts from English sources such as Shakespeare, Milton, Defoe, Scott, and Conan Doyle; and quotations from American authors as varied as Thoreau, Emerson, Twain, and P. T. Barnum. In addition, the reader will encounter many unusual and perhaps long forgotten historical sources: James Parton, Life of Andrew Jackson (1859); Hannah Glasse, The Art of Cookery Made Plain and Easy (1747); Elbert Smith, Practical Notes on Photography (1905); Bolton Hall, The Psychology of Sleep (1917); and Friedrich Christian Accum, Chemical Amusement, a Series of Curious and Instructive Experiments in Chemistry Which Are Easily Performed and Unattended by Danger (1817).
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