Interesting Language and a Christmas Movie

Language is such an interesting subject and I’m always intrigued by the older terms and words. Our forefathers sure had a more colorful way of speaking. In fact, the vivid words drew pictures a lot better than today’s jargon. Since I write historicals I love finding one or two to throw in. Too many can make for difficult reading though. See how many you know. Some may be familiar.


Tub-thump – a forceful or violent way of speaking such as a politician

Carking – causing distress or worry such as: the carking of the homeless

Purse-proud – a showy or arrogant manner

Thunderstone – flint arrowheads or axes turned up by a plow and thought to have fallen from the sky

Slang-whanger – a political rant or a noisy talker (I know a lot of these!)

Sixes and Sevens – a condition of confusion or disarray

Mercurial – sudden or unpredictable changes of mood or mind

Omnishambles – a situation full of a string of blunders or miscalculations

Blue Skins – Presbyterians

Black leg – a gambler

Stanchion – a strong or durable support or barrier

Snipper-Snapper – an insignificant but pretentious person; a trifler

Booklore – book learning

Cactus-bloomers – longhorn cattle

Corpse and Cartridge Occasion – gun battle

Not born in the woods to be scared by an owl – not easily frightened

Do you have any to add to these? I’m giving away a 2019 calendar to two people.

* * *

Now that we’ve had some fun, I want to tell you about a Christmas movie that John Wayne starred in. How many have seen or heard of “The 3 Godfathers?” It came out in 1948 and was about three bank robbers running from a marshal when they stumble across a woman alone in a covered wagon giving birth. Before she dies, she makes them promise to take care of her baby and get him to the town of New Jerusalem. It’s a story of redemption. I watched it when I was young and remember some funny scenes as they try to take care of this infant. So if you’re wanting a different Christmas movie, you might try to find it. The trailer is on YouTube and the movie is on Amazon.


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Here in the Texas Panhandle, we do love our cowboys. There's just something about a man in a Stetson and jeans that makes my heart beat faster. I'm not much of a cook but I love to do genealogy and I'm a bit of a rock hound. I'm also a NY Times & USA Today bestselling author of historical western romance. You can contact me through my website and I'd love to connect with you on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and more. HAPPY READING!

52 thoughts on “Interesting Language and a Christmas Movie”

  1. Good morning Linda, I’ve never heard of any of those words that I can recall. Very interesting, now I’m going to be watching out for 1 or 2 of them in your upcoming books.
    I think I’d love that John Wayne movie, I’ve never seen it, but hey, it’s John Wayne, a true American.
    You have a wonderful day.
    Love you sister friend.

    • Good morning, Tonya……..It’s a very cold one up where you are north of me. I’m glad you enjoyed my post. I think those old-timers had some great words and terms. A lot better than today. But then, they had plenty of time to think of them. We’re too busy and rarely speak in whole sentences anymore. I’m so sorry about your brother-in-law. Sending love and prayers to you and your family.

      Much love, sister friend.

  2. Good morning Miss Linda. My uncle used the words black leg and sixes and sevens. I knew what black leg ment. I love your story. I have seen the John Wayne movie. 3 Godfathers. It’s a good one. Have a good day stay warm from your snow.

    • Good morning, Yvonne……I’m so glad you came. I wonder who thought of the term black leg? Did the gambler wear black trousers? Odd. Yes, the movie is good. I want to buy it. Stay warm? Well, the sun is out and the snow will probably melt. I think it’ll be easier to stay warm today than yesterday. 🙂

      Have a blessed day. Sending love and hugs!

  3. Good morning. I’ve never heard most of these saying. Lol To two politician saying very much fits our president and most politicians!! I’ve never seen this movie but you do have me very intrigued now! Some of my grandparent’s saying are already being lost like oleo and pollypop. We do have recipes in my grandmother’s handwriting that calls for oleo but I have to wonder how many of my cousins would even know what ingredient it is. My grandparent’s finally quit using pollypop when they got crazy stares and grew tired of explaining what it was. They resorted to pop for a few years and finally adopted soda water and eventually soda trying to stay in tune with grands and great-grands.

    • Good morning, Stephanie……..I agree about the politician sayings. 🙂 Yes, a lot of words are being lost as the years go by. Lard is another one. No kid today would know what that is. I hope you get a chance to watch the movie. It’d be a break from the norm. Have a blessed week.

      Much love and hugs!

  4. I haven’t heard these terms before, but some are really fitting when I read the descriptions. I haven’t seen the movie that you’ve mentioned. I’ll have to check it out.

    • Good morning, Janine…..I agree. The words our ancestors used were very fitting and drew pictures in your head. Today we rarely speak in whole sentences because we’re in such a hurry. I wish the world would slow down a bit so we can have time to breathe. Have a blessed week.

      Love and hugs!

  5. Oh Linda, I love hearing the OLD phrases people used, I had heard none of these !! You can be sure I will be looking for the John Wayne movie , he was my favorite actor as I child. I even had a picture of John Wayne hanging in our house ? I think this is just what the doctor ordered !!

    • Good morning, Rose Ann…….I’m so happy I could bring you a bit of cheer. You’re going through quite a rough patch. Old words and terms just fascinate me. I have several books with nothing but these and I love scrolling through them. Enjoy the movie!

      Love and hugs!

  6. I have heard a few of these terms. John Wane has been my favorite actor since I was a teen(76 now). I saw 3 Godfathers many years ago.

    • Good morning, Estella……Thanks for coming to read my post. I figured some would know a few of these old terms. The movie is worth mentioning. I loved it as a teen but I wonder if it would still hold the magic it did as an adult. I’ve got it ordered.

      Have a blessed week full of love and kindness!

  7. Thank you for sharing your very interesting post, Miss Linda. I loved it! I have seen a lot of John Wayne movies but I missed that one.

    • Good morning, Melanie……..I’m so happy that you found my post interesting. Maybe you’ll find a copy of the movie and settle in for a treat.

      Have a blessed week. Love and hugs!

    • Good morning, Debra……..It’s great to see you. I’m glad you liked my post. Words fill our world and give it color and I always find them interesting. Have a blessed week!

  8. I loved the these saying you mentioned but I can’t say I have heard any of them before. Although I will have to say I stay in omnishambles about half the time myself. Thanks for a great post.

    • Good morning, Quilt Lady…….I stay in omnishambles too. And I know quite a few tub-thumpers, slang-whangers, and snipper-snappers. Ha! 🙂 I stay clear of them when I can. I’m glad you enjoyed the humor.

      Have a blessed week and sending love.

  9. I love words, too, Linda–and I’ve heard some of these but many were unfamiliar. My dad’s response when you asked “How are things going?” many times was, “Oh, you know, same old six and seven.” So evidently that phrase had more than one meaning or meant different things to different people.

    My mother sometimes would warn us not to “fash” about things. My husband says “That’s a made-up word.” But it’s not! My grandmother’s father was Irish and that is a Scots-Irish word meaning “worry”–Mom didn’t use it a lot, but I used it some when my kids were little and they both say it. Isn’t it funny how words get passed down like that?

    Great post, and I would love this JW movie. I’ve never seen it before. I need to watch it! Thanks for bringing it to our attention!

    • Good morning, Cheryl…….Yes, I’m sure sixes and sevens had more than one meaning. I love the word “fash” but have never heard it. Very interesting and it is funny how things get passed down from one generation to the next. My mom had a ton of old sayings and I’ve tried to incorporate them into my stories as much as possible because I don’t want them to become lost. One was, “Every tub has to sit on its own bottom” and I used it in To Catch a Texas Star. Readers loved it.

      You know, many of these Christmas movies are run year after year. The “3 Godfathers” would give you a break. 🙂 Hope you enjoy it. Great story line.

      I love you dearly, sweet friend!

    • Hey Cheryl, “fash” is still commonly used in Scotland, as in, “dinna fash yersel’,” meaning don’t be upset or bothered.

      “fash. Scot. to trouble; annoy; vex. Origin of fash. from Middle French fascher, to vex from Vulgar Latin an unverified form fasticare from Classical Latin fastidire, to feel loathing from Classical Latin fastidium: see fastidious.”

      • Eliza, Cheryl and Lin da,
        Fash is still spoken and used in Ireland as I recently heard. My Grandmother had so many of these sayings but do you think I can remember a one right this minute. I had heard 3 of your words/phrases Linda. I also, am fascinated by words and names. If I find a new one I have to look it up. Linda thank you for today’s post. As for the John Wayne movie, I had not even heard of it but I will be watching it this season. My hubby might even join me since it is John Wayne.

        Much love and care Linda Broday. Something will be on its way very soon. Please stay warm.

      • Hi Cricket,
        It doesn’t surprise me at all that “fash” is still spoken in Ireland as well as Scotland too, but it’s neat to know it. That means “fash” should still be in use somewhere around the American South and West in particular too since so many Irish and Scottish pioneers headed that way! I hope you get to see the movie. Happy Holidays, Cricket!

  10. Linda, fascinating about colorful language from the past. I’ve heard of some of these phrases but not all. Modern language has some interesting terms, too, but somehow these “older” sayings resonate so much more, rich with history.
    I believe I saw a bit of the John Wayne movie on TMC and then got called away. Sounds like the perfect movie for the Christmas season, and as it was made in 1948, I do remember watching part of it and thinking, this was the original version of “Three Men and a Baby.” With the men being bank robbers and becoming de facto Godfathers, this vintage movie had such a richer plot than the many redoes, much like the vintage language. Richer context and feel, makes you realize that, in some ways, our forefathers lives were fuller and deeper, lived less on the surface.

    I just finished “Texas Star,” and I loved the book. You gave Marley Rose a story to be proud of and a hero/husband who is a wonderful man! Like language and classic movies, this story will resonate for the ages.

    • Good morning, Hebby………Bless you for liking To Catch a Texas Star! Roan and Marley live inside me and have taken up permanent residence. 🙂

      I do believe our ancestors lived fuller, more satisfying lives. They moved a lot slower and had time to enjoy each day which they expressed in colorful language that drew images in your head. I don’t think I’ll ever be purse-proud or a tub-thumper. Maybe a snipper-snapper. Ha!

      I loved the modern day “Three Men and a Baby.” Those roommates weren’t criminals though but it was funny.

      Have a blessed week. Much love.

    • Hi Caryl…….I’m glad you stopped by and found my post interesting. Add one of these at your Christmas party and enjoy the shocked faces. HaHa! On second thought you might get slapped in this social climate. 🙂

      Blessings and love!

  11. What a fun list, some I had seen already but many new ones. I enjoy interesting language in a book. It makes it come alive and the setting seem real. But you are right to just sprinkle them in because words and phrases we no longer use can be distracting.

    We have added 3 Godfathers to our list of holiday movies to watch each year. My sister and her family have watched it for years, and a couple years ago we spent time with them over the holidays and saw it (although I’m sure I’d seen it before). Great movie.

    • Hi Sally…….It’s nice to have you. I’m glad you enjoyed my post. I agree about putting one or two in a book. It would add a lot of flavor. 🙂 Enjoy the movie again this Christmas. It’s good.

      Blessings and love!

  12. I had heard of several of those terms. When I use certain phrases no one knows what I am talking about even though the expressions were used regularly when I was growing up, but are never heard nowadays. Since Yiddish phrases are what I grew up with I will use a few here. Baleboste – a real homemaker who knew how to cook and was a kindhearted woman.
    Bisl – a little bit
    Ess – eat.
    Your post was interesting and thought provoking.

  13. You’ll understand when you are a parent.
    Don’t bite off more than you can chew.
    Hold your horses.
    Not to worry.
    Give him an inch and he take a mile.
    Lovely post today.

  14. Hi Linda, I grew up with the movie Three Godfathers. The ending of the movie is so heart warming and memorable it has always stayed with me. Of course it has Ward Bond in it and it’s a John Ford movie. John Wayne was a hero to me as a youngster. It’s one of three favorite Wayne movies along with The Quiet Man and The Searchers (my all-time favorite.)

    I’m also very intrigued by language.
    –Mercurial is based on the Roman god Mercury, a messenger who wore winged sandals and so was like quicksilver–quick, clever, changeable, flighty. (The Greek god Hermes before that–also a messenger who was clever and mischievous.)
    –I heard the expression to be at 6s & 7s a lot in the UK when I lived there. It is thought to have first come from Chaucer in 1374 in the Middle English “sexe and seuene” for dice/gambling terms.
    –Stanchion comes from the Old French estanchon, a prop, brace, or support, early 14th c., from the Latin stans meaning standing.

    Can you tell I was an English major? All of the above, though, comes from a key figure in my life, an English teacher in high school for three years, Mr McCormick, who made sure we studied Greek and Latin roots so we’d always be at an advantage in our reading and studies. He also gave us courses in things like logic to help with reasoning and thinking and the like. I’m not “blaming” him, but I sure meant it when I said he was an important figure in my life.

    Thank you, Linda, for such a lovely blog and all the new words to add to my understanding.

    • Hi Eliza…….It’s so good to hear from you. I pray you’re doing well. I should’ve known you would have information to add to my post, you being as well versed as you are. It’s funny how our words came from all over the world as people began to travel. I can see how your Mr. McCormick shaped you. Teachers do that and we never even realize. I’m sure you were a very astute student.

      I also should’ve known you would know about the “3 Godfathers.” It’s odd that I can’t remember the ending but only the mother’s death and the men fighting over who’d take care of the infant. I need to buy it and watch it again.

      Much love and blessings, dear friend!

      • Hi Linda,
        Oh I remember that wagon scene with the mother and the three men too. A very touching movie in a very unique way–also an imagine formed in my youth.

        BTW, if you would like me too, I would certainly cut down my replies to P&P posts. I am a chatterbox but I honestly do not mean to come across as a know-it-all. It’s just that as a retired person I have more time for chatting now that I’m out of the rat race—and I’ve always loved English and history–especially together. Lemme know and I’ll rein it in! 🙂

      • Dearest Eliza……No ma’am. I love your posts in whatever length you write them. You simply amaze me. You are so well read and have had experiences I would give my eye-teeth for. Keep writing your posts and I’m praying they help give meaning to your long days.

        Much love!

  15. Linda, you’ve mentioned about the speed of modern life on language skills. I think modern modern technology has hit us hard too, like in twitter and YouTube with all the acronyms, as well as the emphasis on getting something out as quickly as possible rather than as clearly or accurately as possible. I can’t count the number of times I’ve seen there, their, and they’re all used interchangeably, never mind that folks no longer seem to know there is no longer an “e” after the “g” in judgment. (Oh, besides being an English major, I was an editor. Quelle surprise!)

    • Eliza, I really hate it when people text using shorthand like “U2” or “UR right.” It irks me to death and I want to reach through my phone and shake them. That’s so lazy. I always spell out every word AND use punctuation. There is no excuse for laziness. Yes, I’ve seen their, they’re, there used wrong 90% of the time. A bone of contention!! And I only have a high school education.


  16. I am thinking of old but used tidbits. In a Tizzy was used a lot.
    That’s my cup of tea.
    I’ll be there with bells on
    You’re the bees knees
    You’re the cat’s meow

  17. Colder than a witch’s teat in a brass bra.
    I saw The 3 Godfathers at the historic Paramount Theatre in Abilene, Texas. It was a colorized version. The theatre has a special bulb that makes the entire ceiling like the open sky with stars. Sponsors purchase new bulbs in support. They are very expensive.
    Thanks for another historic enlightenment.
    I am enjoying my beautiful 2018 calendar very much.

    • Hey, Miss Jerri……It’s great to see you! I’m glad you stopped by. I love your phrase and that would be mighty cold all right. So would Colder than a well-digger’s bottom. Ha! 🙂 I was in the Paramount Theatre in Abilene many, many years ago. I went with my mother-in-law to see a Don Knotts movie and I remember staring at that twinkling ceiling more than at the movie. It was quite gorgeous.

      Much love, dear friend!

    • Hi Denise……I’m not exactly sure where the term blue skins comes from. Maybe because the Presbyterian religion is so old. Blue Bloods…Blue Skins. Thanks for coming.

  18. Hi Linda, I have only heard of sizes & sevens. They sure had a colorful way with vocabulary. Thank you for the post. My dad loved John Wayne & Ward Bond movies. I remember seeing it with my dad.

  19. Hi Linda, I know Sixes & Sevens, Booklore and Mercurial. Stanchions were often mentioned in our dairy barn and I had heard whipper-snapper instead of snipper snapper. “Too big for your britches” was often used to tell me that I wasn’t acting as I should.
    Thanks for an interesting post.

    • Hi Connie…….You know a lot of these! Many have more than one term to describe something. I’m glad you enjoyed my blog. I hope at my age I don’t get too big for my britches. 🙂

      Blessings and Hugs!

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