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A.Word.A.Day--Buckley's chance

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Last year we featured a week of terms in the pattern "x's y", for example "busman's holiday" (a vacation spent doing things as at work) or "widow's peak" (a v-shaped hairline at the top of the forehead). Terms that answer the question "Whose what?" generate a huge response from readers. Perhaps that's because each of those phrases has a story behind it.

Last year we featured a week of terms in the pattern "x's y", for example "busman's holiday" (a vacation spent doing things as at work) or "widow's peak" (a v-shaped hairline at the top of the forehead). Terms that answer the question "Whose what?" generate a huge response from readers. Perhaps that's because each of those phrases has a story behind it.

Last month we featured a week of such terms coined after animals, such as a dog's letter (the letter R) and a mare's nest (a confused mass; a hoax). This week we'll discuss terms named after specific persons.

Buckley's chance (BUK-leez chans) noun

No chance at all (or only a very slim chance).
Also called "Buckley's and none" or "Buckley's hope".

[The origin of the term isn't certain but the most popular story pins it to William Buckley (1780-1856), a British convict transported to Australia. There, he escaped and found refuge among the Aborigines for more than three decades. When he was rediscovered he had forgotten how to speak English. Since survival in the outback was difficult it was said that anyone lost there had Buckley's chance of making it.

Another possibility is a pun on the Melbourne department store Buckley and Nunn, i.e. one has two chances: Buckley's and none (both of which are 'no chance').]

-Anu Garg (words at wordsmith.org)

"First of all, understand that Kookaburra III has Buckley's chance of beating Stars & Stripes."
Barry Lorge; It's the Same Language, Almost; The San Diego Union-Tribune; Feb 2, 1987.

X-Bonus

Who breaks the thread, the one who pulls, the one who holds on? -James Richardson, poet, professor (b. 1950)

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