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#112607 - 09/24/03 03:05 PM Etymology  
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Scilla Offline
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Scilla  Offline
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I have got a question.
Being prone to irritation, I often burst out with words such as 'fiddlesticks!' and phrases (silly as can be, of course) such as 'poppycock and dewberries!'
This morning I was practicing my instrument when I made a mistake. I yelled 'fiddlesticks!' and a relation who heard asked if I knew why that word is used as an expostulation, since it means a violin bow.
I was immediately curious. This word is used a good deal- And I doubt many people know what it means. I looked it up on the Internet, but only found a few things. Does anyone have a good etymology for it?


#112608 - 09/24/03 03:17 PM Re: Etymology  
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Faldage Offline
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All AHD4 will say is that you're right.

http://www.bartleby.com/61/57/F0105700.html


#112609 - 09/24/03 04:50 PM Re: Etymology  
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of troy Offline
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rego park
don't ya just love words that have there meaning staring you in the face, and somehow, you missed it?

disaster! -- one day, i finally realized, dis- a negative prefix, could mean not (dis obey)/or undone, (disrobe) and aster..stars. a bad outcome, one that was not predicted in some important persons 'star chart'... an unforseen event.. a disaster!

isn't self evident that fiddle sticks are bows?
and isn't fun to find out some 'self evident' etymologies are that at all --like the stupid psuedo feminists saying herstory for history.. (as if history was his story!)


#112610 - 09/24/03 05:21 PM Re: Etymology  
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AnnaStrophic Offline
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Welcome, Scilla!

Well, I found this, but it isn't attributed:

fiddlestick (15c., originally "the bow of a fiddle;" meaning "nonsense" is from 1621)

http://www.etymonline.com/f2etym.htm




#112611 - 09/24/03 05:24 PM Re: Etymology  
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Faldage Offline
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isn't attributed

YCLIUITBAMOED


#112612 - 09/24/03 05:32 PM Meanwhile, Scilla,  
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AnnaStrophic Offline
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... I also found this:

Fiddlesticks: 'It's all fiddlesticks' implies that it is all nonsense.... I can't find a modern origin but, in 1811 "Fiddlestick's end" meant "nothing". The ancient fiddlestick (violin bow) ended in a point, hence, metaphorically, used to express a thing terminating in nothing.

http://members.madasafish.com/~jbriggs/book/e & f.htm

(both above sources thanks to MaxQ and his magical reference page: http://maxqnz.com/References.html)


#112613 - 09/24/03 05:38 PM Re: Etymology - tangential  
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shanks Offline
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Dear Scilla

On fiddlesticks, I must confess to not knowing why a fiddle's stick should be considered nonsense, but I am reasonably certain that poppycock comes from the Afrikaans (I think the original spelling is paape-kak, or some such) and refers to soft squidgy dung.

Don't know if that helps...

cheer

the sunshine warrior


#112614 - 09/24/03 05:54 PM Re: Etymology - tangential  
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AnnaStrophic Offline
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Soft squidgy dung

I for one will certainly file that away. And it's good to see you, shanks!


#112615 - 09/24/03 06:26 PM Re: Etymology - tangential  
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Faldage Offline
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shanks! Welcome home!

Re: Poppycock

AHD4 agrees with you:

http://www.bartleby.com/61/75/P0447500.html


#112616 - 09/24/03 06:28 PM Re: Etymology - tangential  
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Alex Williams Offline
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I've always thought that exclamations like "fiddlesticks" and "shoot!" were substitutions for other, more vulgar, oaths such as f--k and s--t. Likewise darn for damn, heck for hell, gosh for God, etc. They don't have to make any sense, as they're just substitute sounds, such as when "Doctor Evil" in the Austin Powers films says, "Throw me a frickin' bone here, people!"


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