The Word Geek in me is rising forth once again.
Having loaned out a book so long ago I thought I had inadvertently donated to Somewhere (Friends of the Library book sale, Goodwill, who knows), I did a happy dance to have it once again returned to me. I gleaned it long ago when deleting old and dilapidated items from the school library. Only a Word Geek would appreciate this title:
It’s full of idioms and the background of why we say what we say. Published in 1953, it’s actually older than I am; however, when I do utter some of these expressions now and then my students do that sideways eye glance at each other, and I will know they haven’t a clue what I am talking about. This book, now back in my possession, helps me explain why we say what we say.
“His excuse about not reading the assignment was above board.”
>What’s she talking about?<
>I dunno. It’s one of her odd things she says<
Well, it’s not that odd when you think about it. Sailors deal with the water in two ways: what goes on below, and thus unseen, and what goes on above, which is most easily seen. When things could be seen easily, clearly, straightforward, and even honestly it was considered above board, or above the water line.
Hence, the student’s excuse about not reading the assigned homework was honest. I believed the reason.
>Why didn’t she say that in the first place?<
>I dunno. She says stuff like that all the time.<
Has anyone got an idiom you say but haven’t the foggiest what it means? Betcha my lil book explains it. Send ‘em my way.