Category: Where did it come from?

Origin of “To Talk Turkey”

The phrase To talk turkey┬ácame into usage about a century and a half ago. At that point in time it referred to a pleasant conversation, possibly due to the fact that a young man would get tongue tied when speaking with a pretty woman and would sound like gibberish. Over the years it has developed a sterner quality and a small parable or sorts may be to blame. The story went that a pilgrim and a Native American went hunting and brought down a bunch of game. The white man, thinking to outsmart his hunting partner, tried to manuever his hunting companion into giving him all the turkeys, but the brave’s only response was, “All the time you talk turkey, now I talk turkey to you.” At which point he divided things equally and went on his way.

turkey

Origin of “Scot Free”

So, we know that Scot Free means to get away without consequences. But where did it come from? In Old English, a scot was a payment, and later a tax. So, to go scot free means to go without tax or payment–not as I earlier thought a really racist way to say they were getting away with not having to deal with a Scotsman…

Origin of “Spick and Span”

Welcome to the new Friday posts! Together we’ll explore the origins of various words and phrases as decided by my new Christmas Present, 2107 Curious Word Origins, Sayings, & Expressions.

For our first word, let us explore the phrase “Spick and Span” meaning really really clean. Like, how clean my mother likes the kitchen (which it hardly ever is) or how clean you’d like to think restaurant kitchens are. Originally, this term simply meant: new. Absolutely and unequivocally fresh and new without having been previously owned or marred. It started with “span-new” around 1300 which basically meant a newly cut spoon, or one that hadn’t been used before. Spick was later added for less clear reasons, possibly in reference to a new cut fork, or splinter, but I think it’s cause it makes for wonderful alliteration…

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