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—Jack Upland. CHAUCER. " Why wilt thou not beg for pore BEDRID men, that
bin porer than any of your sect, that liggea and mowe not go about to help '
hemselfes."— Id. EOD. EAVES-DROPPER. A tell-tale listener, an ill-intentioned ...
... to light upon, in the old form of the participle present, lucking ; in the modern
luckend. In de by, on the spot, in the place ; by is here in a substantive import, as
in our phrase, by the by. Beul, Jack Ketch, the executioner, and sounds bel, ble.
Cower ball. to Henry 1 V. THE JACK KETCH. As the executioner for the town [
place]. Die fhach ketst ; q. e. he that continues for ever hunting after chance ; he
whom industry itself cannot avail ; one who, however anxious and zealous in his
The Jack in the phrase has no original relation to sex. Ass is the ellipsis of Jack-
ass. We can say a she jack-ass, although against common usage.
BALDERDASH. Empty talk. Bolder-das; q. e. that's all empty noise ; there is
nothing but sheer ...
A JACK-IN-OFFICE. Some upstart in employment; now used in a derogatory
sense, probably from the general conduct of those whose appointments depend
upon. court favour, as favour obtained more by compliance with the interests of a
What people are saying - Write a review
Anyone who has enjoyed the mad book of "French" nursery rhymes, "Mots d'Heures: Gousses, Rames" by Luis van Rooten will love this account of the "Dutch" origins of, not only old English nursery rhymes, but also common phrases like "Raining cats and dogs", expressed in real Dutch words that sound like the original, but translate as something quite different!
It's a long read, and probably more meaningful if you speak Dutch, but good for a straight-faced laugh, if you know what I mean!
I was also impressed by some of the nursery rhymes that haven't survived into modern English, because they are so politically incorrect.