Wordy Nerdy

In my politicians cheating post, I used the expression “not my first time at the rodeo.” That got me thinking about the origin stories of some of my favorite expressions.

Let me take a moment to express my eternal gratitude to The Googles for their wisdom and their researching assistance. Having lived in a world where everything wasn’t at my fingertips, I am able to fully appreciate this gift. Now get off my lawn!

The Rodeo reference was first mentioned in the movie Mommy Dearest. Joan Crawford tells the Pepsi board, “Don’t f*&% with me fellas.  This ain’t my first time at the rodeo.”

Joan Crawford - Mommy Dearest

Of course, there is “Get off my lawn.” I started using it after seeing Clint Eastwood say it in Gran Torino, but evidently it was a long-running tag line on Letterman starting in the 1980s.

One of my favorite grammar-geeky expressions was first said during World War II. An editor reworded one of Churchill’s sentences to keep it from ending in a preposition.


The response was classic: This is the sort of bloody nonsense up with which I will not put. I have been known to walk around the house saying “Up with which I will not put.” It’s both history and grammar; no wonder I adopted it!

What I loved doing this exercise is finding out what expressions I had wrong. I’ve often used “rowed hard and put away wet” thinking it was about a boat. Not so much. The real expression sounds the same but brings up a very different mental image: rode hard and put away wet. The right way is about a horse. Fortunately for me, I’d drawn the correct meaning from the expression – someone who looks like they’ve had a hard life.

What are some of your favorite expressions? Or Am I the only one to ever learned an expression wrong?

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