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Linguaholic

Are the Oldies Truly the Goodies?


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  • 3 weeks later...

What do you think phrases like "the cat's ass" or the "bees knees" seriously mean? Are these idioms and what makes the cat's ass so great? Do bees actually have knees and if they do, is it a good thing?

It really makes no sense to me as much this idiom which makes no sense, " Raining cats and dogs "  to tell a heavy rain fall.

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What do you think phrases like "the cat's ass" or the "bees knees" seriously mean? Are these idioms and what makes the cat's ass so great? Do bees actually have knees and if they do, is it a good thing?

I'd never heard 'the cat's ass'.

But I am familiar with 'the cat's meow' and 'the cat's pajamas', also 'the dogs bollocks' though that last one is a UK thing.

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Most idioms make no sense, unless you know their origins.

Phrases like "the cat's ass", "the dog's bollocks", "the bee's knees" etc. are likely just nonsensical. "The bee's knees" was probably invented because it sounds so nice. In Dutch we have a phrase 'the nose of the salmon', which also means it's the best. I can imagine that actually having an origin, salmon probably being an expensive and luxurious fish, the only thing better than that would be a salmon's nose (which of course, being a fish, they don't really have). Possibly people got creative and thought of other animal bodyparts that sounded just as ridiculous as being 'the best'.

"Raining cats and dogs" is said to have come from ye olde days, when if it rained heavily, in the narrow streets, stray cats and dogs would drown in the floods. Then there would be dead animals everywhere, so people would say it had been 'raining cats and dogs'.

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I don't think idioms are meant to make sense.

Well, they usually come from something that once did make sense. A lot come from sailing, and a lot comes from military, so there's often jargon involved.

Think about how today people often use sports terms to describe things. Imagine if football (soccer for those outside Europe) just stopped being a popular sport, but they'd still be saying "The Prime Minister was put offside at today's talks", people would be thinking that didn't make sense either, but we know it does, if you know it's a football term.

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  • 4 weeks later...

They don't always mae explicit sense to everyone. You have to know the origins of each idiom to understand the full meaning of it. I think the bees knees just rhymes and sounds well put together - that's why I like it, at least. There are plenty of websites about idioms and their origins.

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What DOES the cat's ass imply? The same thing as the bee's knees? I've never heard the cat one before..I'm not sure I like it, lol.

The phrase is new to me, too.  It comes across as very strange, at best, to me.  I had heard of 'the cat's meow' though.

But the general consensus -- odd though it may seem -- is that like the "bee's knees" the "cat's ass" is supposed to be something really fine, special or extraordinary.  There is some speculation that the phrase is also alluding to how carefully and dutifully cats groom themselves; all parts of the body. 

They don't always mae explicit sense to everyone. You have to know the origins of each idiom to understand the full meaning of it. I think the bees knees just rhymes and sounds well put together - that's why I like it, at least. There are plenty of websites about idioms and their origins.

Yes, there are some great Web sites on origins of idioms and other expressions. I especially like this one:

http://www.phrases.org.uk/index.html

It's been mentioned on other threads, but in case you have not seen it, do check it out.  It's a great resource. 

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  • 2 weeks later...

Speaking of cats, cat got your tongue?  :grin:

It's an idiom to tease those who can't answer back. Like if someone asked your a very difficult math question and you don't know the answer. Then the other person would say, "What's the matter? Cat got your tongue?" because you were quiet.

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