If you are interested in blogging or want to promote your book, please contact E. B. Davis at writerswhokill@gmail.com.

October Interviews
10/2 Debra H. Goldstein, Two Bites To Many
10/10 Connie Berry, A Legacy of Murder
10/17 Lida Sideris, Double Murder or Nothing
10/23 Toni L. P. Kelner writing as Leigh Perry, The Skeleton Stuffs A Stocking
10/30 Jennifer David Hesse, Autumn Alibi

Saturday Guest Bloggers:
10/5 Ang Pompano
10/12 Eyes of Texas Anthology Writers
10/19 Neil Plakcy

WWK Bloggers: 10/26 Kait Carson


Congratulations to our writers for the following publications:

Lyrical Press will publish Kaye George's Vintage Sweets mystery series. The first book, Revenge Is Sweet, will be released in March. Look for the interview here on 3/11.

Shari Randall will be writing again for St. Martin's, perhaps under a pseudonym. We look forward to reading Shari's Ice Cream Shop Mystery series debuting next year. Congratulations, Shari!

Susan Van Kirk's A Death At Tippett Pond was released on June 15th. Read E. B. Davis's interview with Susan.

KM Rockwood's "Frozen Daiquiris" appears in The Best Laid Plans: 21 Stories of Mystery & Suspense, edited by Judy Penz Sheluk. The anthology was released on June 18th.

Fishy Business anthology authors include KM Rockwood, Debra Goldstein, and James M. Jackson. This volume was edited by Linda Rodriguez.

Please read Margaret S. Hamilton and Debra Goldstein's short stories (don't ask about their modus operandi) in a new anthology, Cooked To Death Vol. IV: Cold Cut Files.

Warren Bull's Abraham Lincoln: Seldom Told Stories was released. It is available at: GoRead: https://www.goread.com/book/abraham-lincoln-seldom-told-stories or at Amazon: https://tinyurl.com/ydaklx8p

Grace Topping's mystery, Staging is Murder was released April 30.


Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Winner Winner, Chicken Dinner

Have you ever heard or said a phrase like “winner winner, chicken dinner” and wondered where the heck it originated? I have and decided to learn more about some of these puzzling expressions.

First, I discovered we have Shakespeare to thank for approximately1,500 words and phrases still in use today. While Shakespeare probably didn’t create all of them, they are first cited in his plays. You may recognize the following well-known phrases:

In a pickle – (The Tempest)
As dead as a doornail - (Henry VI)
A laughing stock - (The Merry Wives of Windsor)
Eaten out of house and home - (Henry V, Part 2)
A sea change – (The Tempest)
I have not slept one wink – (Cymbeline)
Primrose Path – (Hamlet)
The game is afoot – (King Henry IV Part I)
Wild goose chase – (Romeo and Juliet)
Fight fire with fire – (King John)
There’s method in my madness – (Hamlet)

Bite the bullet
There are also non-Shakespearean phrases with more “modern” origins. For instance, it is believed that “bite the bullet” was first coined in the 1850s when soldiers were equipped with the British Enfield rifle. They had to bite the head off a cartridge in order to create a spark and ignite it. This was a dangerous act requiring steadiness in order not to maim or kill oneself.

Today, the phrase refers to someone who is courageous in the face of adversity. Although it can be used tongue in cheek such as, “I’ll have to bite the bullet and pay up for a pair of Manolo Blahnik pumps.”

Winner winner, chicken dinner
This perplexing phrase finally made sense when I read that casinos in Las Vegas once sold three-piece chicken dinners including potatoes and vegetables for $1.79. Since winning an average bet could make you $2.00, you had money to buy a chicken dinner.

Paint the town red
“Paint the town red” seems to have originated after a drunken escapade in 1837 when the Marquis of Waterford led a group of friends on a bender through the English town of Melton Mowlbray. The evening culminated in vandalism as they broke windows, pulled knockers off doors and kicked over flowerpots. Then they painted doors, a swan statue, and the tollgate--you guessed it--red.

Always a bridesmaid, never a bride
In the 1920s, LISTERINE® turned this line from a song into a slogan and used it in a series of mouthwash advertisements. Below is copy from one ad:

“Edna’s case was really a pathetic one. Like every woman her primary ambition was to marry. Most of the girls of her set were married—or about to be. Yet not one possessed more grace or charm or loveliness than she. And as her birthdays crept gradually toward that thirty-mark, marriage seemed farther from her life than ever. She was often a bridesmaid but never a bride.”

Shockingly, Edna had halitosis and drove away potential suitors with her bad breath. The ad admonishes, “…you, yourself rarely know when you have it. And even your closest friends won’t tell you.”

I was a bridesmaid six times before being a bride. What does that say about my oral hygiene? Yikes!

Apparently, LISTERINE® popularized the word, halitosis, in 1921 and touted their mouthwash as a cure. Sales skyrocketed as people were afraid of being socially unacceptable. Yep, there’s nothing like using shame and fear to sell a product.

I think Edna should have ditched her so-called friends, bit the bullet and purchased a pair of high heeled shoes, traveled to Vegas and painted the town red.

Do you have a favorite phrase or expression?


E. B. Davis said...

Thanks for the history lesson. I love understanding the history of phrases and etymology. I've always been partial to "trip the light fantastic," which is thought to have originated from Milton's L'Allegro.

Com, and trip it as ye go,
On the light fantastick toe.

But that was in my romantic high school days. Now, I like more practical phrases, buy they are usually obscene!

James Montgomery Jackson said...

In the WIP I am currently writing, I have my main character’s son use the expression “the whole nine yards,” and then wonder where the heck that came from.

Some of the best expressions come from the farm – but most of us are so removed from them that they may no longer make sense.

~ Jim

Kara Cerise said...

I haven’t heard the expression “trip the light fantastic” in a long time, E.B. I also remember reading Milton's poem in high school. It’s a good one and that phrase left a lasting impression.

Kara Cerise said...

Jim, maybe “the whole nine yards” originated from ship building or the navy. I’m just guessing and really don’t have a clue. (I wonder how the phrase "have a clue" began?) I use these phrases automatically without thinking about their origins.

James Montgomery Jackson said...

Here's an article from the NY Times on "the whole nine yards" which shows even well-used phrases can be born in obscurity:


I had written the dialogue before doing any research because I didn't know (and therefore there was no reason for the character to know) and only later looked it up.

~ Jim

Paula Gail Benson said...

A few years ago, I was asked to look up the origin of the phrase "close, but no cigar." I was surprised it came from a cry of carnival barkers at time when cigars were given as prizes. If you didn't bring the hammer down hard enough to ring the bell, you heard, "Close, but no cigar!"

Kara Cerise said...

Jim, thanks for the interesting article about "the whole nine yards." I wouldn't have guessed that and didn't realize it was such a mystery.

Kara Cerise said...

Paula, I didn’t know the origin of “close but no cigar." Now I will imagine an old time carnival barker yelling it out when I hear that phrase.

Warren Bull said...

When I lived in North Carolina I loved the local idioms.
It might have been where I first heard: One fry short a happy meal.

Gloria Alden said...

What a fun blog, Kara. The winner, winner, chicken dinner was the only one I'd never heard of before. I used to put a proverb on the board each day and have my kids try to guess what they meant. "An apple a day keeps the doctor away," was easy, but "Don't look a gift horse in the mouth" had to be explained. It came from the Trojan War when the opposing army place a huge wooden horse filled with soldiers at the castle gate. It never made real sense to me, either.

Linda Rodriguez said...

This such fun, Kara! Loved it.

I find it interesting that, when I write something that Skeet or her grandmother says that's old Oklahoma idiom, often the NYC copy editors have real problems with it. Fortunately, my editor sides with me.

Kara Cerise said...

Fun expression, Warren.

I'm looking out my window and watching someone mow the lawn in the pouring rain. Perhaps that phrase would be appropriate in this situation.

Kara Cerise said...

Gloria, the kids probably enjoyed learning a new proverb a day. I didn’t know “don’t look a gift horse in the mouth” came from the Trojan Wars although it makes sense because of the Trojan horse story.

Kara Cerise said...

I think idioms add to the authenticity of a book. I’m glad your editor sided with you, Linda!