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Useless information for the day

Dog-days - hot period of summer weather:

Sometimes used as a general metaphor for good times in the past. The phrase is a translation from Latin; in classical times, the hottest period of the year, from the beginning of July to mid-August, was attributed to the rising of Sirius (the brightest star in the constellation called Greater Dog and thus known as the Dog-star) at the same time as the sun. This was believed to add to the sun's heat.


Devils' advocate - person who presents, usually for the sake of argument, an opposing view which he does not himself hold:

Translation from the Latin advocatus diaboli, a theological term used in the Roman Catholic church for the official given the duty of arguing against the proposed beatification of a dead person during the formal deliberation of the matter, in order to ensure that the case is examined from all sides.

Dead ringer - having a strong resemblance for someone or something:

A ringer was originally a counterfeit coin. The fact that a coin was false could often be determined by dropping it on a hard surface, if it made a ringing sound, it was a fake. Later, in horse racing, a ringer was a fast horse substituted by an unscrupulous owner for a similar-looking nag with a bad racing record. This horse could then be heavily bet on in the hope of gaining a dishonest profit. Dead is merely a way of emphasizing the similarity, as in 'dead centre' (exactly central) or 'dead on' (exactly correct), where dead adds a sense of precision and strength to the phrase.

Axe to grind - ulterior and selfish motive; private grievance; pet subject:

The second and third meanings have developed from the first, which comes from the language of US politics, which in turn found it in Too Much for your Whistle by the self-educated writer, scientist and statesman Benjamin Franklin (1706-90). It tells how, as a young man, he had obligingly turned a heavy grindstone after a man had flattered him into doing so; in reality the man merely wished to sharpen his axe, after which his attitude changed. From this, Franklin learned to be cautious about the motives behind people's smooth talk: perhaps they merely had another axe to grind.


( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
Aug. 11th, 2005 07:57 pm (UTC)
I'm temporarily smarter! (I'll forget it by tomorrow). I need to take my Ginko, but I keep forgetting.
Aug. 11th, 2005 08:01 pm (UTC)
LMAO Awww *hugs*

you are too funny
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )