Wednesday Word Play: Put that in your pipe and smoke it

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Hey homies, I'm back for another rendition of Wednesday Wordplay, which celebrates my love for words and my limited vocabulary. Killer combo. :)

I hope you enjoyed last week's work hard, complain harder feature and have been writing screeds that threaten to defenestrate your insufferable co-worker who's an inveterate kool-aid drinker and also such a milquetoast. Phew.

This week I thought I'd focus on a few idioms and their origins. With a pipe theme, because Frosty. (Snow is currently falling out my window.)


1. Pipe Dream: noun. Any fantastic notion, hope or story.

"This might be a pipe dream, but I'm hoping my blog gets 1 million followers after I share the origin of pipe dream." ;)

Most people know what this means, but where'd the phrase come from? I found out from a friend this past weekend while bowling and verified it on the link above.

TANGENT: Fun fact: I once bowled a 9. I was in eighth grade, and I was trying. This weekend I bowled (wait for it)....a 28. In the first game. Then, in the second game I bowled a 104. I'm consistently incredibly inconsistent when it comes to bowling.

A pipe dream is alluding to the dreams produced while smoking an opium pipe. Who knew? I've never smoked opium, but apparently I unknowingly reference it.*

You can buy these on Etsy. Perhaps interesting Q-tip holders?

2. Down the Pipe: This actually is not the correct idiom that means "soon to happen or appear." It's actually Down the Pike, where "pike" refers to "turnpike" (aka a big highway). However, "pike" isn't really used anymore, outside of this idiom, and "pipe" obviously is. So, you hear both, and see both idioms in writing. For every one published example of "down the pipe" there are two "down the pikes" according to this useful post on the grammarist.

So, in short, you could say "Next week, we have some exciting happenings coming down the pike" or  "Next week, we have exciting happenings coming down the pipe"and, I mean, everyone would get what you mean either way.**

But technically, stick with "pike" if you want to pay homage to the idiom's origin.

3. Pipe Down: slang, to stop talking or be quiet.

"Hey Tywin, pipe down! I'm trying to watch Game of Thrones."

This one has a nautical origin. On ships, a boatswain's pipe was used to give signals. "Piping down" was the specific signal dismissing men from duty for the day, and telling them to go under the docks and retire for the night. (Sources: onetwothree.)

Well, that's all for this week! I hope you enjoyed learning a little history of some commonly used phrases :) The more you know, right?

Happy Hump day, you guys! One week and one day until Thanksgiving!!

Haha! *image

p.s. Tune back in tomorrow for a book review! Yep, another memoir.

*Reminds me: there is a ton of opium smoking in The Good Earth. As I said back in July, I really recommend that book! (for more than just the opium. Haha.)

**I have to assume you're referring to Thanksgiving.

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