Pam Webb

a writer's journey as a reader

How Cliché: That “F” list


Face the Music: to meet with consequences. An American saying that derived from the theater. An actor on stage would face the orchestra pit, and the audience. If the audience was a rough lot facing the music meant the actor had a tough performance ahead.

One way of facing the music (ufficoriroma.net)

Fair and Square: just with equity. Found in the 17th century the term is redundant since “fair” and “square” are similar in meaning. A “square deal” has similar meaning.

Fair to Middling: mediocre. In mid-nineteenth century America, Artemus Ward wrote in His Travels “The men are fair to middling” meaning things are so-so. Look over “Can’t complain.”

Mmm, average? (thefreedictionary)

Far and Wide: affecting those over great distances. One of the oldest clichés about, dating back to the year of 900. The Old English states it as, “feorr and wide.” Shakespeare added it to Romeo and Juliet with the line from Act Four, Scene Two: “I stretch it out for that word “broad”; which added to the goose, proves thee far and wide a broad goose.”

Feast or Famine: an overabundance or a severe deficit. The original expression stated: “either feast or fast.” During the twentieth century the original changed to the present form of “feast or famine.” Though cliché, it is a term that seems to remain applicable.

(Have a) Field Day: enjoy an outing or occasion. An expression from the 1700s that refers to the military proceeding with maneuver practices. The term then began to appear in the 1800s to civilian matters, such as schools taking students out on excursions. It can also mean to enjoy oneself away from the usual, expected routine or even to immerse in criticizing someone, as in the press having a field day with discovering an unsavory situation about a celebrity or politician.

My kind of field day (Reddit)

(To not care or not worth) A fig: worthless. In the Mediterranean area figs are plentiful, so if something is plentiful it’s not considered as valuable. However, in other parts of the world, such as England, figs have to be imported, so they would have value. This makes it interesting when Shakespeare used the expression in his Henry plays. Why did Shakespeare use the expression. I’m not sure–it’s Greek to me.

Filled to the brim: fulfilled to the absolute possibility. Both Shakespeare and Gilbert applied this cliché in their plays to create the meaning of utmost fulfillment as found Antony and Cleopatra (3:13): “He will fill thy wishes to the brimme” and in The Mikado‘s description of the three maids as “Filled to the brim with girlish glee.”

Or is this better for “My cup overflows”? (blogspot)

There are plenty more expressions for the “F” section. Stay tuned…

Any surprises in the discovered meaning?

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8 thoughts on “How Cliché: That “F” list

  1. Neat, as always!

    Why is a deal, “square,” though?

    On a different note, I always hated field day. Never cared for sweating.

  2. Good question. “S” is down the pike—can you wait that long?

    As for field day—sweat goes with that ribbon glory, Mike😊

  3. petespringerauthor on said:

    Good ones, Pam!
    Face only a mother could love.😊

  4. Well, the only surprise here is about facing the music. The explanation makes complete sense, though. Wrt what Mike said, square also means true, not off, so a deal that’s “square” makes sense to me as well.

  5. A very f-ective list, Pam (you may groan now).

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