What is a grass widow

Felt it down

About the origin of idioms and idioms

Part 2a

Dear readers, the topic of “idioms and idioms” continues. I was afraid you would send me “where the pepper grows” because you didn't like my essay, but I didn't hear anything of the kind… - and so we would be right in the middle of the topic.

Even today, one would like to wish an unpleasant fellow man to

Where the pepper grows, namely to East Asia. This unflattering wish to travel comes from the Middle Ages, when the merchants of the Fugger and Hanseatic League traded in the coveted spice and amassed fortunes. The pepper also earned them the contemptuous term "pepper sacks". But hardly anyone really knew where the pepper came from. It was only known that this was very, very far away. In the 19th century, the phrase was also referred to Cayenne, the capital of French Guiana, because there was a penal colony there that was notorious for its murderous climate and the cayenne pepper - actually ground chillies - that grows there is known to be hellishly hot.

To use foreign spices and travel to the most remote areas of our earth are a matter of course for us today. The tastes are known to be different. You don't always go on vacation together, so friends and acquaintances say that he or she becomes a

Straw widower / straw widow: a husband temporarily separated from his wife or vice versa. In today's parlance, a humorous, amusing remark, pronounced with a twinkle in the eye. But - there used to be no straw widower. The old, original designation "straw widow", in Low German also "grass widow", was meant derogatory. It was used for a girl who lost her virginity in the open air, that is, in the straw or on the grass. If such a girl stepped in front of the altar, she was not allowed to wear a myrtle wreath, but only a straw wreath ("straw bride"). Her misstep was thus visible to everyone and she was only in love with both ears -

Crushas we also say about it. It doesn't matter whether it got him or her, it's the most beautiful thing in the world. “To have a crush” means to be crazy about someone. Actually it should mean “shot” or “shot”, namely hit by Cupid's arrow. The "bang", symbol of the speed with which something like this happens when you fall in love unexpectedly, only came along with the advent of firearms. Once we have love under control, then we feel like

In seventh heaven. You have arrived on "cloud nine". It says to be overjoyed, to enjoy the utmost bliss. In the Talmud of the Jews and in the Koran of the Mohammedans there is the doctrine of the "seven heavens". In the highest, the seventh, God dwells. In Christianity we find something similar, here it says in the New Testament, 2 Cor. 12: 2: “…. he was delighted to the third heaven. ”But being in love also has its pitfalls. “Love is blind,” they say, and it's easy to get someone

An X for a U demonstrates: That is supposed to mean cheating on someone, duping them. The X is both a letter and the Roman number ten. The letter U used to be written like V and thus also meant the Roman number five. If a creditor turned the “V” into an “X” by lengthening the bars, he was cheating on the debtor; because the 5 became a 10. Such machinations were relatively easy, because written agreements with carbon copies or copies were largely unknown, a handshake and an oral agreement were sufficient. Although this was legally valid, there was a lack of evidential value in the event of differences of opinion and so it was possible to do so very quickly

Have something wrong with it. In today's parlance, this expression means having committed something, not having a clear conscience, being guilty of something. But the original meaning was quite different. Until well into the 19th century, many in the country were ignorant of reading and writing. So that the door was not opened to fraud, a “kerbholz” replaced the written debt register in which the debtor's liabilities were entered. It was, one might say, the books that everyone could read. The debts were notched into two matching bars. The debtor received one staff and the creditor kept the other. For settlement purposes, the creditor sent his staff to the debtor, who was able to convince himself of the correctness of the claim by merging the two staffs. The evidence was clear and so no one could say

My name is Hare, I know nothing. Master Long-eared has nothing to do with this phrase either. This saying allegedly goes back to the Heidelberg student Victor von Hase, who helped a student colleague wanted by the police to escape in the semester 1854/55. During his interrogation, he remained steadfast: "My name is Hase, I don't know anything!"

The "four-legged" hare can be found in many idioms that mostly come from the hunter's language. So “knowing how things are” means knowing well, not being tricked. Because in order to deceive the dog and the hunter, the hare zigzags. Anyone who “grabs the rabbit breading” is on the run. "Rabbit foot and fearful rabbit" means not to dare, to be afraid and to run away as quickly as possible. An “old hand”, on the other hand, is considered experienced and clever. Even if he is chased with all the dogs, he still does not allow himself to be caught - in contrast to a "this year's rabbit" who has no experience and becomes easy prey. The poor rabbit has to be used for all sorts of sayings, but not

Become a whipping boy. If someone has to serve as a whipping boy, he will be punished for something that someone else has committed. The phrase hits the bull's eye and is to be understood literally. The formerly common corporal punishment was not allowed to be carried out on young noblemen. In their place received the punishment they deserved, namely beating, poor children who were held for it. The aristocratic culprits, however, had to watch. Has this upbringing made any difference? Hardly likely. You can see that it has its advantages when you

Of blue bloodis. When we speak of “blue blood” today, we mean aristocrats, i.e. counts, princes and kings. This is a saying that is more than a thousand years old. In 711, after the death of King Roderich, the Visigoth Empire in Spain fell apart. Gotalania became Catalania and the Arab walls took over. The dark-skinned Moors saw that the blood vessels shimmered dark blue through the fair skin of the Goths. They spoke respectfully of “blue blood”. In the course of time it became "noble or noble blood". The “blue” blood of the noble boys is unlikely to have boiled when the poor whipping boys

Screaming screams and murder. According to today's understanding, this means lying shouting to attract attention, although there is no reason for the nagging. The idiom is derived from the court gestures of Germanic legal customs. "Zyder" means "move here" and was the accusation with which in the Middle Ages the accuser with the bare sword in hand opened the indictment against the perpetrator in front of the "embarrassing court": if it was about murder and manslaughter, then the accusation was called "Mordio". Was it about theft "Diebio" or "Feurio" if it was arson. But Mordio and Feurio were also common calls for help in danger for a long time.

The embarrassing jurisdiction showed the accused clearly during the trial what to expect in the event of a conviction and so it is not surprising that so many accused

The bite got stuck in my throat, because the medieval judiciary was not squeamish and divine judgments were part of it. There were no limits to the ingenuity. So the accused had to z. B. swallow a large piece of dry bread or hard cheese without liquid. If he succeeded in doing this without difficulty, his innocence was proven. However, if the pieces got stuck in his throat, he was considered convicted of the crime. In many cases, however, punishment was no longer necessary or possible because many of the accused died as a result of suffocation. The wish “may you choke on it” is a variation of the saying when someone cannot get enough and is particularly greedy and reckless.

Nobody wants to have anything to do with ruthless contemporaries, elbow people and incorrigible egoists, and that’s quick

Cut up the tablecloth. That means the friendship is terminated. Scissors or knives and tablecloths are no longer necessary these days. An old legal practice of our ancestors made divorce very easy. The divorcing couple simply grabbed a tablecloth, which was then cut apart. Each kept the part in hand and went his own way.

One man's meat is another man's suffering: What brought a quick and easy end to the marital war was a disaster for others. Because in the Middle Ages one of the harshest honorary punishments for noblemen was when they were "cut the tablecloth" and thus excluded from aristocratic society.

Renate Genkel


Kurt Krüger-Lorenzen, “German idioms - and what's behind them. VMA-Verlag Wiesbaden

The current Wissen.de lexicon

The big Brockhaus, Bertelsmann-Verlag

Eckart Peterich, Gods and Heroes of the Teutons, dtv

The article (to be read in Fraktur) was published in 2009 in two numbers of the BfdS quarterly publication "Die deutsche Schrift", which is valuable in terms of content and always carefully presented, to promote the German language and writing.

You can find out more about the Federation for German Writing and Language at www.bfds.de

The transfer in Antiqua was done by Mrs. S.L. (skd)

(skd) Our readers learn about the unharmed honor and more in the final part 2b