The History Center on Main Street, 83 N. Main Street, Mansfield PA 16933
Tri-Counties Genealogy & History by Joyce M. Tice
Words We Use
Bradford County PA
Chemung County NY
Tioga County PA

Sorry, I finally found an article I had no appropriate picture for, so I put up my wallpaper hidden wall switch which has nothing to do with anything except how well I matched my botanically impossible wallpaper.
Article: Words We Use
Township: Town of Elmira 
Article by Helen Mac Dougall Samson (1909-1995) 1976
Sent in by Walt Samson
Retyped by Debbie Hansen
Photo by Joyce M. Tice 05 APR 2001
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Have you ever thought why we use certain expressions and wondered where they came from?

A small knife carried in the pocket was called a "pen knife" because a sharp knife was required to shape and sharpen the goose quill used to do most writing.

A slang expression meaning to eat a meal was "guess I’ll go and put on the nose bag." This phrase originated from the days when a horse was fed his oats from a canvas bag draped around his head to prevent waste. Another remaining term from the days of the horse was to "balk" at some action or idea. A balky horse was one of man’s greatest irritants, and after a second experience of a horse balking or refusing to move, the search for a buyer was usually underway.

Another expression from early rural living was "he plows a straight furrow" meaning he was an honest man. A worker might sigh at the end of another twelve hour day and say, "another day another dollar," and pocket the dollar and return to him and ten children he was supporting on this wage.

But some things then and now didn’t amount to a "tinker’s dam." That wasn’t profanity as the dam in question was a real one used by the mender of pots and pans who used a bit of clay to stop the running away of the solder he was using. They didn’t always work though, and sometimes were not worth a "picayune." A picayune was an old Spanish coin used in Florida and Louisiana, and its worth was about 61/4 American cents, and was also called a half real.

Macaroni is known by everyone as a nutritious food, but back in the 1700’s it was known as an overdressed man. His laces and satins rivaled the dresses of the fashionable ladies of the court. So, "stick a feather in your hat and call him macaroni" was a gibe at the roughly garbed colonial soldiers from the smartly turned out Red Coats.

The old song "Pop Goes the Weasel," came from a part of the early spinning machine that held the yarn as it was spun. When full, it popped and the attendant replaced it with an empty reel.

The term "upper hand," goes back to the days when knights used heavy two handed broad swords. The hand located at the top of the blade was used for guidance and so the upper hand had an advantage.

There are countless other terms and phrases that we use in our daily communications that add flavor and colour to our daily speech. Without them life would not be worth a dose of salt.
The History Center on Main Street, 83 N. Main Street, Mansfield PA 16933