Monday, August 24, 2009

Say That Again?

A while ago I noted when Simon Cowell used the British phrase "chalk and cheese" on American Idol, his cohorts treated him like he had brain damage. That can happen when people hear an odd phrase they're unaware of. But there's an opposite phenomenon.

I once said "the proof is in the pudding" (which originally was "the proof of the pudding is in the eating," and is used here and in Britain) and a friend who heard it thought I got it from the South, where she was raised. Sometimes you figure something you hear as a kid is a local locution.

I was thinking about that while listening to Terry Gross interview Loudon Wainwright on Fresh Air about his new album High Wide & Handsome: The Charlie Poole Project. This is from the transcript:

Mr. WAINWRIGHT: "High Wide and Handsome" is an expression that I heard growing up because my mother, I mentioned, was from South Georgia. I think it's a Southern expression.

Sorry Loudon, this is a phrase used all across America--just not so much as it once was. It was popular enough that it was a title for a big Hollywood musical/Western in 1937 starring Irene Dunne and Randolph Scott.

On the other hand, it is an American phrase, so if Ryan Seacrest uses it, Simon Cowell can raise an eyebrow.


Blogger Irene Done said...

The phrase is still used a lot in stock car racing whenever someone drives along the outer edge of a banked track, almost touching the wall.

6:14 AM, August 24, 2009  
Blogger QueensGuy said...

Hasn't made it (or survived, anyway) in common parlance in NYC. I've never heard it before.

6:45 AM, August 24, 2009  
Anonymous Denver Guy said...

Grew up in NY and now live i denver, and can't say I've heard this expression. Does it mean just what it says?

8:19 AM, August 24, 2009  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I would thought there was a porn connotation

8:45 AM, August 24, 2009  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

To "chalk and cheese," "the proof is in the eating" or "high, wide and handsome"?

9:33 AM, August 24, 2009  
Blogger LAGuy said...

The phrase is American in orign and refers in general so a certain openness and bigness. It can describe a beautiful vista, but it can also refer to how a horse rides, or how some cowboy is stepping out. It's often related to the country, but it doesn't have to be. It generally means something done stylishly, generally in a jaunty way, but can also mean prosperous.

9:59 AM, August 24, 2009  

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