A way for very poor families to make a few pennies was to sell their urine.
19th century American courts, especially in the Gold Rush, would skip procedures to assure quick sentencing.
To train young hunting dogs to follow a scent, the carcass of a cat or fox or, at a pinch, a smoked and salted herring (of a reddish colour) would be dragged along the ground.
There is also the suggestion that it would have been used to see if the dogs would be put off the scent they were meant to follow.
Franz Andres Morrissey, Lecturer in Linguistics and Creative Writing, University of Bern, said that the “everyday English is incredibly rich in imaginative language”.
He added: “Looking for the meanings of the many colourful, puzzling and at times downright surreal sayings takes us on a journey through history and sports, military and nautical realms, literature and culture and beyond.
There was nothing to do and many may have been suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.
If out of four sheets, one was not properly fastened, the ship would become difficult to control and would be ‘to the wind’, moving as erratically as a drunk.
The phrase comes from Matthew where John the Baptist describes the man to come after him: ‘His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing floor, gathering his wheat into the barn and burning up the chaff with unquenchable fire.’ In the Old Testament the image of winnowing is also used in Psalm 1:4: ‘…the wicked! Skin of your teeth Job describes his state (Job 19: 20): ‘My bone clings to my skin and to my flesh, / And I have escaped by the skin of my teeth.’ The phrases suggests something so thin and elusive as to be insubstantial. Easier for a camel to pass through the eye of needle than for a rich person to get to heaven.
In horse racing, a jockey winning comfortably does not need to use a whip and can ride to the finishing lines with his ‘hands down’.
From the French ‘point blanc’, referring to the white circle at the centre of the target for archery or shooting practice.