Why We Say: #31 Tumblers, Turkeys, and Turns
There are many ways to categorize people. Dogs or cats? Soccer or football? Gelato or frozen yogurt? And the big one: glass up or glass down in the cabinet?
Housecleaning isn't what it used to be. Four hundred years ago it was even more of a problem. In fact, it was such a problem, especially dust issues, that glasses were designed with a pointed bottom so that when stored they would "tumble" over unless stored rim side down. Having a German mother, however, I do know about house cleaning, so this entry about tumblers took me to wondering just why we store our glassware in the manner of upside down. And yet, I'm wondering about how people actually used the glasses since they couldn't be set on the table. Were there catchers for these tumblers?
The Ben Franklin story about wanting the turkey as our national bird is not this story. This story sounds like a bit of a fairytale though. Apparently tradesmen having discovered some birds, guinea hens, and sent them back to England by way of Turkey. Do you see what's going to happen here? When the birds arrived they were naturally named Turkey after the country they were thought to have originated from, which is why when settlers from England arrived to America and saw the natives with birds that looked like turkeys they were called turkeys.
I'm having a difficult time with this one too. Sometimes my little Why We Say… book has some really interesting explanations. Checking it out I found this information: maybe my little book isn't so wrong after all.
Taking a few turns…
Turning thumbs up or down
This one is so well known that you probably already know that a gladiator's fate was not always determined by whether he won the fight, but rather how well he fought. Thumbs up–he lived. A turn of the thumb, well, job security as a gladiator was a bit tenuous back then.
Originally, to prevent people from traveling down the road without paying for that privilege, a pike or bar was swung into place. And you thought those little gates were annoying.
Turn the Tables
Just like it sounds, during a certain card game a player could turn the table to replace his perceived poor hand with perhaps a better hand held by his opponent. Wait! That reminds me of a Bugs Bunny cartoon gag (around 3:35–the old carrot juice switcharoo).