A Conversation for Ask h2g2

Near death experience

Post 15141

~ jwf ~ scribblo ergo sum

>> Oh - and if anyone can take on the petering out... <<

A very good question!
As usual of course I have no idea and am inclined to just take the mick.
IE: I'm currently petering in but will get back to you on the way out.
smiley - winkeye

Actually, some dusty memory neurons are firing now and I believe it has something to do with either Peter the disciple or Peter the apostle. "Oh Lord, not ~jwf~'s obsession with the New Testament again!", I can hear some "doubting Thomases" saying.

smiley - winkeye
~jwf~


Near death experience

Post 15142

KB

Example sentence for jwf's New Testament hypothesis:

"his commitment to turning the other cheek petered out when he sliced some Roman soldier's ear off". smiley - tongueincheek


Near death experience

Post 15143

Cheerful Dragon

'Peter out' is another phrase that nobody knows the origin of, although any link with St. Peter is certainly wrong. Here's what World Wide Words has to say: http://www.worldwidewords.org/qa/qa-pet1.htm


Near death experience

Post 15144

KB

"any link with St. Peter is certainly wrong."

Ah, but who reads jwf's posts for the facts?

The saltpetre connection sounds plausible. Being an ingredient in gunpowder, it's possible that a firework with an incorrect amount saltpetre would fizzle (or petre) out. It would be a bit of a damp squib.

Then we reach the connection with a petre dish, where such concoctions might have been tested for efficacy in times gone by. And the petard-gunpowder link is obvious to anyone who has ever heard a petard at an Italian festival. They aren't heard, so much as felt from the ground up.


Near death experience

Post 15145

Rod

Mining/explosives sounds reasonable ...and a peterman is (was) a safe cracker (or blower)


Near death experience

Post 15146

pedro

And 'peter' is of course the French word 'to fart'. A whole different sort of petering out, I think.smiley - winkeye


Near death experience

Post 15147

Rod

Ah, the blower, as in Le Petomaine...


Near death experience

Post 15148

pedro

So, I'd imagine the French meaning would be related to the English one probably.

Why isn't there a fart smiley?smiley - bigeyes


Near death experience

Post 15149

You can call me TC - so relieved the site is back up again

That was very interesting. Who'd have thought the miners had contributed such a lovely phrase to our language.

I can just imagine them enthusiastically hacking away at a vein which seemed (no pun intended) to go on for ages, just to find it diminish to nothing.

And, of course, I am delighted to find that this thread is alive and kicking after all.


Near death experience

Post 15150

~ jwf ~ scribblo ergo sum

>> Why isn't there a fart smiley?smiley - bigeyes ...<<

Yeah! Maybe it could look like King Bomba's "...bit of a damp squib".
smiley - cheers
~jwf~

PS: And yup, I now think it was probably the high saltpeter content of poorly mixed gunpowder that 'fizzled out' and gave rise to the expression. St Peter has enough on his golden plate to bother with defective explosives.


Near checkout experience

Post 15151

IctoanAWEWawi

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/business/7590440.stm

Tescos supermarket to change the wording on the quick checkout - '"10 items or less" notices with signs saying "Up to 10 items"'

Apparently after being advised by the Plain English Society. Not quite sure what is so contentious about "10 items or fewer" but there ya go.


Near checkout experience

Post 15152

~ jwf ~ scribblo ergo sum

>> Not quite sure what is so contentious about "10 items or fewer" <<

Items is plural. It has an S on it.
The sign was correct to start with.

The rule is:

fewer carS
less traffic

peace
~jwf~


Near checkout experience

Post 15153

Gnomon - time to move on

The original sign was "10 items or less".


Back to the roots:- please excuse my language

Post 15154

You can call me TC - so relieved the site is back up again

I am listening to "Fry's English Delight" this morning. According to the blurb ( http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio4/arts/frys_english.shtml ) they will be discussing d*g's b*ll*cks.

To remind any newbies of why this is of particular interest, may I refer you to the origins of this thread:

F19585?thread=46483

The Stephen Fry programme is available on "Listen Again" - even to those of us living abroad - and can be heard for the next 7 days.

........ whilst typing this, they've got up to and past the d*g's b*ll*cks bit. I learnt that the origin of the expression is owed to our old friends the printers. DB is the (now defunct) expression for the (now almost defunct) colon followed by a dash :-


Back to the roots:- please excuse my language

Post 15155

KB

I can see why that would be slang for a colon-dash, but how did it follow from that that it means something absolutely fantastic?


Back to the roots:- please excuse my language

Post 15156

Gnomon - time to move on

Balderdash and Piffle, the TV program about adding new words and phrases to the Oxford English Dictionary, concluded that the :- meaning was genuine but was nothing whatsoever to do with the present meaning.


Back to the roots:- please excuse my language

Post 15157

Wand'rin star

I think we got that right eight years ago when we decided it was cognate to/with "the bee's knees" and the "cat's whiskers".(TC, I have just spent an hour I can't afford going over the first 500 posts of the original thread" smiley - starsmiley - star


The news that's fit to print

Post 15158

Wand'rin star

Tonight's local paper leads with a tale of an attempted ambulance hijack by someone who "had ben found lying by the side of the road at an unknown location in Grimbsy".Are we into parallel universes, do you suppose?smiley - starsmiley - star


The news that's fit to print

Post 15159

Gnomon - time to move on

Perhaps there are lots of Grimsby people wandering around looking confused - "it was like nowhere I'd ever seen before; I've lived in Grimsby all my life and I just couldn't put a name to it".


The news that's fit to print

Post 15160

Wand'rin star

I'm also perplexed by reports in the national newspapers that some pop star has given "50 pink burp cloths" to Palin's daughter. What's the British English for a burp cloth and should I be buying 50 smiley - yikes of them for the no2 grandchild who is due imminently (which explains my flight to Dublin later on today)smiley - starsmiley - star


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