love your web site. Just what I needed. A source of
idioms. My Grade 5 class are drawing the literal meanings as
they learn what they really mean. Being in Canada, some of
them are unfamiliar, but that's great too. Idioms are part of
a nation's culture. We're hoping to scan our art and get them
up on the web. Let us know if you are interested in seeing
what we've done.
Blake T. Nanaimo, BC, Canada
I stumbled onto your book "Origin of English Sayings" and have been
fascinated by its contents. I could not leave without posting a quick
thanks for the time you have put into the subject.
Jason L. Boise, Idaho, USA
On numerous occasions I have utilized your expertise. The research you
have done on the origins is extremely interesting. I have an inquiry,
and I was hoping that you could shed some light. It is my understanding
that the phrase, "in like Flynn" originates from reference to Errol
Flynn and his "clout" in Hollywood - addressing his ability to get in
whatever soiree he desired. However, many people say "in like flint."
Sam E. No address given
My reply: I've checked my several reference books and only one even
mentions the phrase! Fortunately, it also gives an origin. From
Brewer's 'Twentieth Century Phrase & Fable'
"Flynn. in like Flynn A phrase meaning that the person concerned does
not miss a chance to seduce a woman. It is also used in a more general
sense to mean that the person is quick to take advantage of anything on
offer. Flynn is the Australian born film star, Errol Flynn (1909-59),
who was one of Hollywood's most swashbuckling screen lovers. The phrase
was particularly popular with the armed forces during World War II.
Flynn himself was not flattered by it, despite his own partiality for
boasting about his conquests."
I hope this helps.
After offering an opinion about the origin of "Catch 22".
I have never been able to get a reasonable explanation about catch 22.
Every time I ponder about it to someone, they always say it's a damned
if you do, damned if you don't phrase and the 22 means nothing - like
it could be 33 or 44 etc. I never bought that; I knew there had to a
reason for the 22. I guess it's my technical background that makes me
need a reason for the unexplained.
I will sleep a little better tonight - thanks to you.
John B. USA
I found your site via 'Google' and *loved* it.
R. Damian Koziel, Redwood City, California USA
Loved your section on English sayings and have to admit that I got
caught up in the rest of your site and enjoyed much of it before I
managed to tear myself away. I will be adding your English sayings page
to my mystery section on my own homepage.
Lois Pallister, UK
I really like your site - it's great and I've passed it around my
university here in Boston!
Dale H. Freeman, Assistant Archivist, U Mass Boston, Healey Library
Randy Strong, PhD, Associate Professor in the Department of
Pharmacology, U.T. Health Science Center, South Texas Veterans Health
Care System asked me for the origin of the phrase 'in for a penny, in
for a pound'. I was able to help. He sent me the following replies
Thanks very much for taking the time to answer my question. By the way,
I found out about your website when reading a (newspaper) article......
on the web (I’ve forgotten which journalist) in which your website was
cited. It appears to be very popular among journalists and other
I did a little research and found (contrary to what I told you in a
previous e-mail) that the journalist who referred to your website is
Howard Kurtz of the Washington Post. If you haven’t heard of him, he is
a well-respected television commentator (appearing on CNN) as well as a
columnist. The reference to your website is made in the next to the
last paragraph of the article.
Randy Strong, Ph.D.
3 Apr 2003 Washington Post
Finally, we were wondering about this word "cakewalk" that kept getting
applied to Iraq (where's Safire when you need him?). Public relations
man Chris Ullman tracked down this explanation on the Bedtime Browser:
"Most authorities consider that this saying goes back to the days of
slavery in the USA. The slaves used to hold competitions to see which
couple could produce the most elegant walk. The best promenaders won a
prize, almost always a cake. The extravagant walk required for this
type of competition came to be called a Cakewalk and this gave rise to
the old fashioned expression 'it's a cakewalk'. However the meaning
later came to emphasise the trivial nature of the competition and began
to imply that the effort needed was minor and of little account."
October 2003. Nick Baker from Sweden wrote:
Awesome Website... As an English guy living in Sweden, Swedes often ask
what things mean, and then in the thirst for knowledge inquire where
'it' came from...
Many I know, many I don't, and each time I end up looking at your site
to find something out for a Nordic inquirer, I learn something new :o)
Dear Dr. Briggs,
I have had the opportunity to read your new edition and it's brilliant.
What more can I say?
Except of course, Best wishes for the season.
(Dr) Peter Rout (Sydney)
02 Oct 2005
Dear Dr. Briggs,
I should just like to say how much I enjoyed your web-site.
I have always been interested
in English idioms (in fact I have many books on them). Many
were taught to me by my grandmother and, surprisingly enough,
many correspond with similar Chinese idioms/adages, although the
references and word order are somewhat different. I found
your URL both informative and user friendly.
02 Oct 2005
I stumbled on to your website to look up the origin of 'level pegging'
and found it a really useful site.
And your cv is very impressive!
Out here in Spain that sort of information can win one many a wager
(and numerous 'tubos' as a result).-