Page:The Comic English Grammar.djvu/73

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ETYMOLOGY

to be instructed in philological derivation; and on those who do not understand the said tongues, such instruction would be thrown away. In what manner English words are derived, one from another, the generality of persons know very well: there are, however, a few words and phrases, which it is expedient to trace to their respective sources; not only because such an exercise is of itself delightful to the inquiring mind; but because we shall thereby be furnished (as we hope to show) with a test by means of which, on hearing an expression for the first time, we shall be able, in most instances, to decide at once respecting its nature and quality.

These words, of which many have but recently come into vogue, which, though by no means improper or immoral, are absolutely unutterable in any polite assembly. It is not, at first, very easy to see what can "be the objection to their use; but derivation explains it for us in the most satisfactory manner. The truth is, that the expressions in question take their origin from various trades and occupations, in which they have for the most part, a literal meaning; and we now perceive what horrible suspicions respecting one's birth, habits, and education, their figurative employment would be likely to excite. To make the matter indisputably clear, we will explain our position by a few examples.

WORDS AND PHRASES. WHAT DERIVED FROM.
Bone (to steal,) Butchers.
Chisel (to cheat,) Carpenters.
To cut it fat. Cooks.
To come it strong. Publicans.
To drop off the hooks, Butchers.