I looked it up. With your immense religious background, you were right the first time.
Official meaning: brief and unsympathetic attention
A shrift is a penance (a prescribed penalty) imposed by a priest in a confession in order to provide absolution, often when the confessor was near to death. In the 17th century, criminals were sent to the scaffold immediately after sentencing and only had time for a 'short shrift' before being hanged.
Okay, now we have to think of another odd expression...
I just used this elsewhere and realized that I don't know the exact meaning:
to be in a huff
Obviously, this is the same as in the 3 little pigs "I'll huff and I'll puff and I'll blow your house down!" -- but I don't know what kind of breathing it is. I would have thought something along the lines of 'panting' for someone who is huffy, but I don't see why the nasty wolf would huff, unless it is merely for the rhyme. Huffing wouldn't be very effective for destroying a house if it means panting. (Not looking in the dictionary yet!)
I think both of you are semi-correct. I'd say a huff is when you forcefully expel air with and audible HUNH! sound -- i.e., not really using the lips at all. And you'd need puffing to go with huffing for blowing houses down because puffing would be drawing in a big bunch of air in order to huff it back out. Why do you think a puffer fish has "puff' in its name?
<-- before & after puffing
So, to be in a huff would be all ticked off and sort of fluffed up and making that HUNH! noise.
Mmmmm. I think it's just the opposite, Kimby. And the "huffing drugs" expression is not really a clue. Remember the common expression for fellatio, which is hardly descriptive.
Isn't "in the clink" heard in all those 1930s American movies -- the gangster ones and the Bowery Boys flicks, for instance? And "bedlam" used in the sense above entered the English (and American) language decades ago -- probably more than a century ago.
Yes, but do you know the origin of those words? I already knew bedlam, but I just learned clink recently.
The Clink was a notorious prison in Southwark, England which functioned from the 12th century until 1780 either deriving its name from, or bestowing it on, the local manor, the Clink Liberty (see also the Liberty of the Clink). The manor and prison were owned by the Bishop of Winchester and situated next to his residence at Winchester Palace. The Clink was possibly the oldest men's prison and probably the oldest women's prison in England.
The Bethlem Royal Hospital of London is a psychiatric hospital in Beckenham, south east London. Although no longer in its original location and buildings, it is recognised as the world's first and oldest institution to specialise in the mentally ill. It has been variously known as St. Mary Bethlehem, Bethlem Hospital, Bethlehem Hospital and Bedlam.
What's the consensus on being in a huff? Is it time to look it up yet?
Well, the P at the front of "puff" is definitely a breath-out phonetic sound, and a puff of wind - or breath - blows out the candle. But H seems to be pretty hard to make as a breath-in sound, so guess you'd better look it up.
Main Entry: 1huff Pronunciation: \ˈhəf\ Function: verb Etymology: imitative Date: 1583 intransitive verb 1 a : to emit puffs (as of breath or steam) b : to proceed with labored breathing <huffed up to the peak> 2 a : to make empty threats : bluster b : to react or behave indignantly transitive verb 1 archaic : to treat with contempt 2 : to make angry 3 : to utter with indignation or scorn 4 : to inhale (noxious fumes) through the mouth for the euphoric effect produced by the inhalant
so I'm right if we're defining the transitive verb "huff", but bixa wins if we define the intransitive verb "huff"
(will someone please define "transitive" and "intransitive" for me?)
Here's one that may be obvious to everyone else, but has always confused me:
till the cows come home
What does that mean? It's always said to indicate some indefinitely long period of time, but if you say, "I'm willing to wait until the cows come home" at 5:45, and the cows come home at six, you're not really putting yourself out much.
Post by patricklondon on Sept 14, 2009 15:50:55 GMT
My copy of Eric Partridge's Dictionary of Historical Slang gives a singular version (Till the cow come home) as from England in 1610, with a plural form coming from the US, and more common in Canada, Australia and NZ from the early 19th century onwards. No explanation - but maybe the idea is that cows tend to wander off and not come home of their own accord but have to be called (or do they?)
Yeah, I mentioned that earlier too, PL. My Dad used that a lot but would also substitute "a pig's age" at times. Another odd one that he (and other English relatives) would use was "I'm sweating cobs!" to denote they were too hot.