Friday, March 11, 2016

Origin of Phrases, 4

1.      Log-book: An early way to measure a ship’s progress was by casting overboard a wooden board known as ‘the log’ with a string attached to it. The rate at which the string was played out as the ship moved away from the stationary log was measured by counting how long it took between knots in the string, and a 'knot' came to used as the unit of speed at sea. These measurements were transcribed into a ‘log-book.’

2.      Barge in: Heavy freight was moved along the Mississippi in large barges pushed by steamboats. These were hard to control and would sometimes swing into piers or other boats. People would say they ‘barged in.’

3.      A shot of whiskey: In the old west a .45 cartridge for a six-gun cost 12 cents, so did a glass of whiskey. If a cowhand was low on cash he would often give the bartender a cartridge in exchange for a drink. This became known as a ‘shot’ of whiskey.

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