an exercise in miscellany

Posts Tagged ‘English’


In wild card on December 13, 2011 at 9:31 am

A merkin (first use 1617) is a pubic wig. Merkins were originally worn by prostitutes after shaving their genitalia, and are now used as decorative items, erotic devices, or in films, by both men and women. In Hollywood film making, merkins are worn by actors and actresses to prevent inadvertent exposure of the genitalia during nude or semi-nude scenes. If a merkin were not worn, it would be necessary to restrict the shot to exclude the genital area; with the merkin in place, brief flashes of the crotch can be used if necessary. The presence of the merkin protects the actor from inadvertently performing ‘full-frontal’ nudity – some contracts specifically require that nipples and genitals be covered in some way – which can help ensure that the film achieves a less restrictive MPAA rating.

via Merkin


Gild the Lily

In words & phrases on July 30, 2011 at 3:15 pm

Meaning:  To apply unnecessary ornament – to over embellish.

Origin:  Gild the Lily
From Shakespeare’s King John, 1595: SALISBURY:

Therefore, to be possess’d with double pomp,
To guard a title that was rich before,
To gild refined gold, to paint the lily,
To throw a perfume on the violet,
To smooth the ice,
or add another hue Unto the rainbow,
or with taper-light To seek the beauteous eye of heaven to garnish,

      The term ‘paint the lily’ was used in the 20th century, with the same meaning we now apply to ‘gild the lily’. Clearly, this is the correct quotation. The two versions coexisted for a time, although ‘paint the lily’ is now hardly ever used. The first citation I can find for ‘gild the lily’ comes from the USA, in the Newark Daily Advocate, 1895, in what appears to be a half-remembered version of Shakespeare: “One may gild the lily and paint the rose, but to convey by words only an adequate idea of the hats and bonnets now exhibited absolutely passes human ability.”

via Gild the lily.


In words & phrases on June 4, 2011 at 6:58 am

a sudden, passing sensation of excitement; a shudder of emotion; thrill:



In words & phrases on April 22, 2011 at 1:09 pm

A milquetoast is a weak, ineffectual or bland person. It is derived from the character Caspar Milquetoast from the 1924 comic strip ‘The Timid Soul’.

via Milquetoast

Let Bygones Be Bygones

In words & phrases on January 21, 2011 at 2:13 am

Here are a few different ways to say ‘Let bygones be bygones’: don’t  fret about something that happened in the past, let the past be the past and move on, forget the past and don’t hold a grudge.   In 1648, Sir Frances Nethersole used the ‘Let bygans be bygans’ form which is still current today. First cited in the United States in the Diary of Cotton Mather.  If people decide to let bygones be bygones, they decide to forget old problems or grievances they have with each other.

via Let bygones be bygones.


In words & phrases on January 21, 2011 at 1:47 am

A minute or minor detail, the small, precise, or trivial details of something.
The origin of minutia is latin
minutiae: trifles, details, plural of minutia, smallness, from minutus
First known use 1782.

via Merriam-Webster Dictionary