Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Wednesday WOLF

Before you get your word origin of the day I want to point everyone to Dawn Sparrow's blog, where she is hosting a flash contest. I've got a story in there, but I won't tell you which one it is - vote for whichever you think deserves it. And may the best flasher win ;)

In the spirit of my editing hatchet, I found two fun wood-cutting idioms to play with today. Also, it's been damn cold here in Ohio and I own a woodburner, so I've been doing a little blade-slinging myself over the past few days.

Ever see someone fly off the handle? I have, because I work in the public school systems, but even if you don't see temper tantrums on a daily basis you know what the phrase means. Someone in this state has lost control... and that's a fairly accurate description of what happens when the head of your axe flies off the handle. For those of you who aren't active wood-choppers, you can still appreciate the sudden loss of a counterweight, I'm sure. The first published use of "to fly off the handle"goes to Thomas Haliburton, in one of his Sam Slick shorts, The Attache: Or, Sam Slick In London, published 1844.

Writers - ever accomplished something in the nick of time? Sure you have. Any clue what that means? Again, this is a good old wood-chopping term. In case you don't know, if you ever want to hack your way through a particularly large piece of lumber it's smart to make a niche with your hatchet first, a small v-shaped groove that weakens that spot. The idea is to hit that niche again and again with your heavier implement, an axe or a maul. And while that makes sense, if you've ever tried to haul an axe or a maul over your head and then bring it down on a precise spot... well, it's not that easy. In fact, it's kind of a special skill reserved for farmer's daughters.

Ok, not really.

But in any case, that niche, or "nick," is a small area - or frame of time - to hit.

So good job if you do :)

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