[Ads-l] From Kibosh to wild havers

Andy Bach afbach at GMAIL.COM
Wed Dec 12 15:59:32 UTC 2018

By Anatoly Liberman
For many years I have been studying not only the derivation and history of
words but also the origin of idioms. No Indo-European forms there, no
incompatible vowels, not consonant shifts, but the problems are equally
tough. Sometimes it suffices to discover the source of an enigmatic word,
in order to understand the phrase. Thus, once we find out what kibosh
means, we can decipher the phrase to put the kibosh on. As we have seen, a
whole book was needed to approach the truth. Or what is dander in getting
one’s dander up? No less enigmatic than kibosh and dander is Jack Robinson.
Something happens before you can say Jack Robinson. Who was this gentleman,
and how did he become a unit of speed or an ideal of brevity? Or why do we
say to go to hell in a handbasket? Every word is clear, but the whole makes
little sense.

The origin of the idiom to sow one’s wild oats has bothered me since my
student days.

You'd think he'd be on this list.



Andy Bach,
afbach at gmail.com
608 658-1890 cell
608 261-5738 wk

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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