Category: Expressions

Speak slowly -- I can't listen any faster!

Speak slowly -- I can't listen any faster!
I keep thinking of the old, old joke about someone writing a letter: I’m writing this slowly because I know you can’t read very fast. How about the same consideration for listening? I’m speaking slowly because I know you can’t listen any faster. That would work for me, as both a speaker and a listener. So... Read more »

Anniversary arithmetic for a new year

Anniversary arithmetic for a new year
I’ve started hearing about new anniversaries coming this year. One radio station I listen to is advertising its anniversary of doing something — not a round number like 100, but significant in a way that one fewer year, as in 2018, would not have been. It reminds me of the first time in 2018 that... Read more »

Whoops, we have to put '19' back in the year!

Whoops, we have to put '19' back in the year!
Whether I thought of the letters as Christmas cards or year-end ones, depending on who would get them, I tried to follow my usual habit of writing “Happy (year number)” instead of just “Happy New Year.”  I like that for myself when I’m looking at old cards — if someone’s wishing me a happy 1987,... Read more »
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How to answer 'Happy holidays' or other season's greetings

How to answer 'Happy holidays' or other season's greetings
I hope you’ll get the greetings you want over the next few days. I suppose I will; meanwhile, my thoughts on returning the greetings are changing. I used to worry about whether to reply to “Happy holidays” by saying “Happy holidays to you,” “Merry Christmas” (my preference) or something else. But then I tried a... Read more »

This year's -- in January? You missed it, then

This year's -- in January? You missed it, then
The middle of December’s almost here, but I just heard a reference on TV to something happening “this year” in January. No, I hadn’t missed it. The event was coming up in January 2019. Let’s all be careful out there — “this year” means 2018. If you mean the future and want to say something... Read more »

Gloria the angel -- you know, Harold's friend!

Gloria the angel -- you know, Harold's friend!
Hearing “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing” brings back a memory at least once a year. Thanks to the flat Midwestern accents I heard from most people as I grew up, I thought “herald” — not a word I heard the rest of the year — meant the same as the man’s name Harold. I was... Read more »
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Rejoice in the Lord always -- advice from Saint Paul for Thanksgiving

Rejoice in the Lord always -- advice from Saint Paul for Thanksgiving
Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. Let all men know your forbearance. The Lord is at hand. Have no anxiety about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which passes all understanding, will keep your... Read more »

Head over heels? I hope so! What's it mean, really?

Head over heels? I hope so! What's it mean, really?
I’ve found another expression that just doesn’t make sense: head over heels. What’s so special about that? My head is over my heels… well, most of the time. I consulted Robert Hendrickson’s “QPB Encyclopedia of Word and Phrase Origins” (published by Facts on File, Inc., 1987)  to track down the answer. Hendrickson states that “head... Read more »

In praise of November... and not

In praise of November... and not
Great! It’s November! The month of staying cozy, staying home and reading… well, the cozy part’s new, and the staying home is a bit longer because of my lack of an elevator. But in general, November’s great for writers — as these in Bartlett’s Familiar Quotations reminded me. My favorite poet, Robert Burns (1759-1796), wasn’t necessarily... Read more »
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Life without the elevator, or 'The 39 Steps'

Life without the elevator, or 'The 39 Steps'
Do you ever think of a part of your life in terms of a title of a great book? This week — and perhaps next — I’ll be doing that. Going down stairs is now two words in my apartment, not the one word downstairs,  because the elevator is being repaired. I counted the stairs... Read more »