Elie's Expositions

A bereaved father blogging for catharsis... and for distraction. Accordingly, you'll see a diverse set of topics and posts here, from the affecting to the analytical to the absurd. Something for everyone, but all, at the core, meeting a personal need.


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Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Old Idioms Die Hard

Soccer Dad pointed out that yesterday was the anniversary of singer-songwriter Jim Croce's 1973 death in a plane crash. He also mentioned "Operator", his favorite (and one of my two favorites) of Jim's songs. One of the charming lines in this song comes at the very end, where the singer tells the title character "you've been so much more than kind - you can keep the dime". Yes, way back in the stone age a pay phone call did cost just 10 cents!

So this got me thinking about how long idioms tend to remain in everyday speech, even long after they have become anachronisms. The expression "drop a dime", meaning to phone the authorities and report a criminal, is still prevalent (at least judging from "The Sopranos"). Then again, "drop 35 cents for the first three minutes" doesn't quite roll off the tongue as smoothly.

On a related note, how many of us still refer to the general act of calling someone as "dialing" - when rotary phones have been all but obsolete for decades (I don't think my kids have ever used one).

My favorite idiom in this category is when we say that a light "blew out". That one must go back a good century or more, to when houses were lit with gas jets or kerosene lamps instead of incandescent bulbs. Yet it is still in very common use.

I have other examples in the back of my mind but I can't think of any at the moment. I'm kind of tired today; I was up too late "burning the midnight oil" last night I guess. (Actually it's just a sinus headache). Feel free to list any of your favorite anachro-idioms in the comments.

4 Comments:

At 9/21/05, 10:06 PM, Blogger benros52589 said...

cant come up with any idioms either but no one uses the words dialing i dont think adults do either well here's one i guess the bus(jerome bettis of the steelers) is out of steam

 
At 9/21/05, 10:26 PM, Blogger JC said...

I loved Croce! Funny, you made me think of seeing an old telephone at a sale last year. I was showing it to my grandson and explaining how we had used it. I was just amazed at how heavy it was! I am truly getting older....I remember rolling my eyes when my mom talked about watching tv for the first time. Now I talk about remembering my first colored tv set. I will tell my great grandkids that I lived before computers. By then they will be amazed. I am sure at that point they won't be able to imagine anything working at all without computers.

 
At 9/27/05, 7:55 PM, Anonymous pip said...

Did u ever notice how Ben's comments make no sense?

 
At 9/27/05, 10:07 PM, Blogger benros52589 said...

did u ever notice that all of pip's comments r mean and cruel

 

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