Wednesday WOLF

Wolf Paw Print clip artI’ve got a collection of random information in my brain that makes me an awesome Trivial Pursuit partner, but is completely useless when it comes to real world application. Like say, job applications.

I thought I’d share some of this random crap with you in the form of another acronym-ific series. I give you – Word Origins from Left Field – that’s right, the WOLF. Er… ignore the fact that the “from” doesn’t fit.

In the spirit of my editing hatchet, I found two fun wood-cutting idioms to play with today.

Ever see someone fly off the handle? I have, because I used to 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.

But in any case, that niche, or “nick,” is a small area – or frame of time – to hit.

So good job if you manage it.


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