Narrows to catch metal toes

Dan Goodman dsgood at VISI.COM
Wed Nov 12 06:16:36 UTC 2003

Date:    Tue, 11 Nov 2003 21:04:36 -0000
From:    Michael Quinion <TheEditor at WORLDWIDEWORDS.ORG>
Subject: Narrows to catch metal toes

A subscriber has written in with a most intriguing question:

 >> Have you heard the expression "narrows to catch metal toes" said in
 >> mockingly warning way to mean "mind your own business." The person
 >> asking me recalls being told this when trying to pry into Christmas
 >> presents. Where does this come from? The grandparents who said it were
 >> of English ancestry. This expression has been maintained in the Upper
 >> Peninsula of Michigan.

Any thoughts, anyone?

I suspect this is a variant of "Layovers catch meddlers" -- transformed
more than the version which Manly Wade Wellman used as the title of his
fantasy story "Larroes Catch Meddlers."   A quick google on the phrase
"catch meddlers"  brings up other variants.  It also brings up many
diverse explanations of what a layover is.   The third volume of  The
Dictionary of American Regional English apparently includes "Layovers
catch meddlers" --
Volume III of DARE
Immerse yourself in the enchanting, diverse, constantly shifting domain
of American English. Find out about julebukking in areas where
Norwegians have settled; about May baskets in the Plains States, moving
night in Baltimore, and Old Christmas in North Carolina; the children's
game called Little Sally Walker in the South, Little Sally Waters in
Pennsylvania; about a layover to catch meddlers, the north end of a
chicken flying south, or a long drink of water. Learn who uses the names
July fly, ivory, mayflower, no-see-um, longear, lawyer, mountain canary,
or mulligrub for which of various insects, animals, or plants; discover
where you can eat long johns, a lazy wife, or jack wax.

Dan Goodman
Journal or
Whatever you wish for me, may you have twice as much.

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