Thursday, September 27, 2012

Americanisms, Part 1


American English has always been a colorful language, and no less so during the 19th Century. Here are some of the more interesting words and phrases used.



Exclamations:

It was still considered highly blasphemous to use the word "God" or "damn" where anyone could hear you. Euphemisms for either word are many and varied.

All-fired, joe-fired - general exclamatory adjective ("hell-fired") giving added dash to a chosen descriptive, as in: He sure was in an all-fired hurry.

Blame, blamed, dratted - damned, as in: That blamed horse has come up lame.

Blazes - hell, as in: Go to blazes!

Bunkum, claptrap, humbug - hogwash, bullsh*t, as in: That was a load of all-fired claptrap.

Bully, bully for you! - fantastic! (Note that this could also be used sarcastically)

Dad, dog - used to replace the word "God," as in: Dad-blamed

Dang, darn, dash, ding, - used to replace the word "damn," as in: Dash it all!

Do tell, you don't say - exclamation of surprise, as in: Henrietta is expecting? Well, do tell!

Land sakes, law sakes alive, man alive, sakes alive - exclamation of surprise used in place of "Oh my god" or "Lord Almighty."

Pshaw, shaw - polite exclamation replacing almost any other expletive

Rip-roaring, rip-staver (rib-staver), rip-snorting - remarkable for it's strength, intensity, or excellence, as in: We sure did have a rip-snorting time at the circus!

Sam Hill - the devil, Satan, as in: What in the Sam Hill do you think you're doing?

Some pumpkins - something quite impressive, as in: That new carriage of his is some pumpkins!

Tarnation, thunderation, nation - used to replace the exclamation "damnation."




Sayings:

American English is rife with unique phrases and sayings; an American will never use one word when he or she can substitute three or four for it!

Above my bend, above my huckleberry - difficult; above my capability or out of my power, as in: It is above my bend to change the weather.

Across lots - to push on through all obstacles, as in: If he has to go across lots to get that done, he will.

All creation, all nature, all wrath - everything or everyone, as in: I swear, all-creation was at the party.

All my born days - in my entire life, as in: In all my born days, I never saw such a thing!

A man to ride the river with - someone you can trust to help and protect you; a true partner

As blind as a post hole - usually refers to "blind" in the sense of oblivious

Backing and filling - waffling on a decision, as in: I asked him which he preferred, but he started backing and filling and wouldn't say.

Barking at a knot - engaging in senseless or hopeless activity, as in: You're barking at a knot trying to court her.

Don't care beans about - doesn't care, as in: I don't care beans if you come or go.

Don't care beans for - doesn't like, as in: I don't care beans for tomato soup.

Don't know beans about - has no idea, as in: I don't know beans about algebra.

If it'd been a snake, it'd have bit him - the object was in plain sight all the time

Keep that dry - keep it a secret

Like all-possessed - as if by the devil, as in: He ran off like all-possessed.

Not born in the woods to be scared by an owl - unafraid due to long experience; wise

Three ways from Sunday - every way, as in: He beat Dan three ways from Sunday.

To acknowledge the corn - to admit the truth, as in: We pressed him on the subject, and he acknowledged the corn.

To catch a weasel asleep - something highly unlikely; also refers to a very alert person

To get there with both feet - to succeed wildly

To knock into a cocked hat - to surprise, as in: It knocked me into a cocked hat when I found out she'd left her job.

Two whoops and a holler - something very close, as in: The store's just two whoops and a holler over that way.


2 comments:

  1. I just love these sayings and you said it right American English language is really full of colors and the way they express each thing is just wonderful.

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