February 2009 Archives

o'clock

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I recently encountered the phrase pattern "[activity noun x] o'clock" meaning "it's time to do x": once as "sex o'clock" (link is not work-safe), once as "pray o'clock" (in an unpublished story, but the phrase also appears on various web pages).

Googling turns up other phrases with this pattern: "work o'clock," "study o'clock," "dinner o'clock," and so on.

I like it--fun phrase. (Especially "sex o'clock" because it's almost a pun.) I wonder how long this has been around--anyone know? I had never seen it before about a week ago. Though it's similar to other non-numeric time identifiers, like the classic military "oh-dark-hundred."

cold turkey

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Twig asked me about the origin of the phrase "cold turkey." I didn't know, so I looked it up.

No info at Quinion's World Wide Words, which is my most trusted source for etymology these days.

No etymology info in MW11 (abridged) or MW3 (unabridged). But MW3 does give a couple of interesting definitions from before its use regarding drugs; those definitions have to do with being blunt and/or something being a certainty or sure thing. I can imagine those definitions morphing into the modern sense. First cite of the modern sense (in MW11) is 1921.

The Online Etymology Dictionary says:

"without preparation," 1910; narrower sense of "withdrawal from an addictive substance" (originally heroin) first recorded 1921. Cold turkey is a food that requires little preparation, so "to quit like cold turkey" is to do so suddenly and without preparation.

Color me dubious.

Wikipedia says:

The etymology derives from the phrase talk turkey, in which someone deals matter-of-factly with a subject[1]. Some, however, believe the derivation is from the comparison of a cold turkey carcass and the state of a withdrawing addict--most notably, the cold sweats and goose bumps.[citation needed] [...] Yet another suggestion of origin is that cold turkey is a dish that needs little or no preparation. "To quit like cold turkey" would be to quit in the same way a cold turkey is served, instantly just as you are without preparation.

In other words, Wikipedia isn't sure.

Dictionary.com says:

1915-20, Americanism; prob. from the phrase to talk cold turkey to speak bluntly about something unpleasant, var. of to talk turkey; see turkey

I don't normally put much faith in dictionary.com, but it does seem to be more or less in accord with MW3 unabridged on this, and this answer seems much more plausible to me than the "little or no preparation" or "turkey carcass" versions.

Months and movies

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I stopped by Netflix today, and the system recommended two movies that had titles with month names in them.

So here's today's challenge: come up with a set of twelve movie titles that contain month names, one for each month. Each movie should ideally be fairly well-known. No one-word titles. Preferably, no TV movies, but those are acceptable in a pinch. The month names in the titles don't have to refer to the month; for example, any movie with the word "May" in the title counts, even if the word in that context doesn't refer to the month.

Warning: This challenge may not be possible. I came up with only four on my own; IMDB searches led me to eight more, but I had heard of only four of those, and at least one of them appears to be extremely obscure.

Still, come up with as many as you can.

I'll list my answers later in this entry. But first, some side notes:

I'm going to disqualify the one that I thought of for May. It was Seven Days in May--nothing wrong with that title, but as I did other searches, I realized it was far from unique. All of the following are actual movie titles (though some are the English titles of foreign movies):

  • Seven Days in January
  • Two Days in February
  • The Prince Edward Island Development Plan, Part 2: Four Days in March
  • Two Days in April
  • Seven Days in May
  • Six Days in June [also Five]
  • Four Days in July
  • Three Days in August
  • 7 Days in September [also Four, also A Few]
  • Two Days in October
  • Four Days in November
  • One Day in December

So that's a fun set, but let's disqualify all of them from the above challenge.

Bonus round: Come up with a set of seven movies whose titles contain the names of the days of the week. I could only think of one on my own; searches led me to three others that I'd heard of, and three others that I hadn't heard of. One of the day names appears in three famous titles; the others in at most one or two, though it depends on what you mean by "famous," of course.

One possible set of answers to both the month-name challenge and the day-name challenge after the cut.

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This page is an archive of entries from February 2009 listed from newest to oldest.

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