Pharos-Tribune

Breaking News

Opinion

October 24, 2013

ABBOTT: Does your family have silly phrases?

Driving home from West Lafayette yesterday I listened to an interesting radio program about word origins. One of the words highlighted was “caddywampus.” Turns out this word originates from a word meaning diagonal and has thirty similar words in the English language.

Spending four solitary hours in the car yesterday, I thought about words and phrases my parents and grandparents said while I was growing up. These were special sayings that meant something to us but possibly no one else. Does your family have words or phrases like that?

For example, when my mother came across a person who said or did something untoward, she said, “They are not kind and good.” Now, another person might say, “They are a murderous thug.” My mom always put her own spin on things.

She liked dogs a lot and when encountering almost any canine, she said, “That’s a nice doggie.” I hope not to incur the wrath of readers, but I am not a dog person. Dogs and I have never mixed. Dogs sense my fear or disdain and go right for the jugular, or worse. But, my mom never saw a dog she did not like; every rabid mongrel was the sweetest thing she had ever seen.

When Mom wanted us kids to stop fooling around so she could speak seriously to us about something, she would say, “I’ll be Frank and you be Ernest.” I suspect this comes from the comic strip of the same name, which has been published since 1972.

Growing up, we had a special word for the cardboard rolls that Christmas paper came on. We defined them by their ultimate use as weapons – conkers. We used our conkers to bash each other on the head on Christmas morning.

My father has always been full of his own brand of wisdom. My mom used to call his sayings, “Fiction and Facts from Willie’s Almanac.” Many of the things he says came from his own mother, including one that no one really understands. When something is bound to happen or inevitable, he says, “Let the drap fall.” We have no clue as to what a “drap” is – an Internet definition says it is a commune in southern France. I seriously doubt that my material grandmother who spent her entire life in Indiana knew about communes in southern France. If any reader can tell me what the expression means, I’ll be grateful.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
Opinion
  • PARKER: It's time to take a joke, America In selecting Stephen Colbert to replace David Letterman as host of the "Late Show," CBS has waged war on America's Heartland -- or so proclaims that Palm Beach font of heartland mirth, Rush Limbaugh. Don't you believe it, Heartlanders. But wait, ther

    April 16, 2014

  • THEIR VIEW: Constitutional convention won't work today There seems to be a growing idea that we need a Constitutional convention. That, of course, is the other way to change the Constitution. Amendments have been used 27 times to make changes, ranging from limiting the president's term of office to the d

    April 16, 2014

  • KITCHELL: Forum about adding answers, subtracting questions A week from tonight, Logansport residents and those outside Logansport who purchase electricity from the Logansport Municipal Utilities will have a chance to find out some things for themselves. A free forum at McHale Performing Arts Center will feat

    April 16, 2014

  • PUBLIC FORUM: The people are losing control of its government The people are losing control of government President Obama and progressive Democrats and Republicans are changing the landscape of our country by bypassing our Constitution and what our forefathers fought and gave their lives for. Their philosophy c

    April 16, 2014

  • THEIR VIEW: Health care fraud can't go unchecked National health care spending tops $2.7 trillion annually. That leaves a lot of room, and temptation, for abuse of a bureaucracy that administers medical services. Medicare and Medicaid scams may cost taxpayers more than $98 billion each year. Health

    April 15, 2014

  • MARCUS: Truth is often unwelcome Jim Feelwright greeted me warmly as I entered the room: “Well, here he is, Mr. Negative.” Since it was a friendly meeting, I borrowed a famous line from the movies: “You can’t handle the truth.” “You,” he said, “just don’t want to see what’s really h

    April 15, 2014

  • VILLAGE IDIOT: Signs of spring finally upon us Today I saw my first crocus popping up after the long winter. It was in a picture a friend posted on Facebook. Suddenly, it seemed everyone was posting pictures of buds on trees, robins on the lawn, green shoots coming up in the garden. It was almost

    April 15, 2014

  • PUBLIC FORUM: Letters for Tuesday, April 15, 2014 Thankful to community for its care, prayers Thank you to Kyle Rans, Harrison-Metzger-Rans, Guardian Angels Hospice, Royal Center first responders and ambulance drivers for the gentle care and comforting words extended to our family. Thank you to the

    April 15, 2014

  • Brian Bosma BOSMA: House Republicans achieve legislative priorities When the General Assembly began its work last November, as Speaker I pledged a session driven by five main issues: increased road funding, enhanced job training, early childhood education, fair business taxation and cutting government red tape. With

    April 14, 2014 1 Photo

  • LYONS: Taking pity on the Plutocrats "Should any political party attempt to abolish social security, unemployment insurance, and eliminate labor laws and farm programs, you would not hear of that party again in our political history. There is a tiny splinter group, of course, that belie

    April 14, 2014