spit[ting] nails

Dan Goncharoff thegonch at GMAIL.COM
Fri Sep 23 14:18:13 UTC 2011

When all you have is a hammer, every problem looks like a nail...

On Fri, Sep 23, 2011 at 5:35 AM, victor steinbok <aardvark66 at gmail.com> wrote:
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> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       victor steinbok <aardvark66 at GMAIL.COM>
> Subject:      spit[ting] nails
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> http://goo.gl/rIFjh
>> Boehner was described as "spitting nails" during a closed-door member
>> meeting on Wednesday, and his harsh talk demonstrated that the usually
>> unflappable speaker is reaching something close to a breaking point with his
>> internally divided conference.
> OED does not have this. Farlex does:
>> spit nails  (American & Australian informal) also spit chips/tacks
>> (Australian informal)
>>  to speak or behave in a way that shows you are very angry He was spitting
>> nails when he saw what had happened to his car.
> Not just Amero-Australian, it seems (it would have been a strange
> distribution).
>  http://goo.gl/GlM2Y
>      Tory MPs 'spitting nails' over 1922 committee changes
>> Some, to quote an unhappy MP, are spitting nails.
>> Their fury is all the greater because the changes, and the poll to confirm
>> them, were announced without warning at a meeting many thought was called to
>> ask their opinions on the coalition deal.
> This also prompted a comment on the Village Carpenter blog:
> http://goo.gl/jAXLQ
>  I Could Spit Nails!
>> My new favorite saying prompted me to list all the commonly-used phrases
>> and metaphors I could think of that involve some aspect of woodworking.
>> Here's what I came up with:
> This is followed by a list of 34 expressions that may or may not have
> anything to do with "woodworking" (no pun intended):
> Hard as nails
>> Going against the grain
>> Stiff as a board
>> Not the sharpest tool in the shed
>> Coming out of the woodwork
>> Hone your skills
>> Carve a niche for yourself
>> Dovetail two thoughts
>> Hammer out the details
>> You nailed it!
>> You hit the nail on the head.
>> They axed the idea
>> I have an axe to grind [sic]
>> Back to the grind
>> On the level
>> Rule of thumb
>> She's the glue that holds the family together
>> A cut above the rest
>> He's a real stud
>> They're totally hammered
>> He's a chip off the old block
>> She has a chip on her shoulder
>> Let's get down to the nuts and bolts of the project
>> I have a knot in my shoulder
>> Jack of all trades, master of none
>> Chiseled features
>> Throw a wrench in it
>> On the cutting edge
>> Vise-like grip
>> As dumb as a stump
>> We're totally screwed
>> That smell could peel bark off a tree
> I can peel off half a dozen that don't have anything to do with wood or
> woodworking off the top. Some may be generic enough to "include"
> woodworking, although I would not have included them. Somewhere George
> Lakoff is sharpening his tools...
> He forgot "dumb as a bag of hammers" (or rocks, nails, bricks, "load of
> bricks", etc.). There's unflattering "flat as a board", crude "nail X's
> ass", "blockhead", "wooden", "sharp as nails" (not sure which kind of
> "nails" though), "chiseled" (more sculpting than woodworking, I
> suppose)--and corresponding "chip away at X" and "put together" (both fairly
> generic, though), "got X in the vise", "glued/nailed to the wall/TV/etc.",
> "nailed shut", "hammer [away] at X until [he/it] cracks", "turn of the
> screw", "smooth out the bumps" (I suppose, more generic), "take/polish the
> edge off", "watching the paint dry", "spit and polish[ed]", "drive a wedge
> [in]/[between]".
> VS-)
> ------------------------------------------------------------
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