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Why You Say It…


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Ad number:#675309980
Contact:Howard Walker
Phone:(540) 788-4344
City:United States


…The Fascinating Stories Behind Over 600 Everyday Words and Phrases

Local pick-up preferred, but will ship at the buyer’s expense

Kingston – Books 1 –IMG_1065

Not Illustrated

Author: Webb Garrison

Publisher: Rutledge Hill Press

Are you more likely .. .

to take the bull by the horns or beat around the bush? Don’t let anyone call you on the carpet for failing to put your best foot forward. That would be a bitter pill to swallow. In the long run, it’s easier to just bite the bullet and get your ducks in a row. After all, nobody likes the taste of humble pie.

You’ve likely uttered at least one of these adages within the last week, but have you ever stopped to consider where such conversational staples originated? Why You Say It reveals the backstory of more than six hundred words and phrases that pepper our everyday dialogue. This catalog of our language’s most colorful expressions delivers an illuminating read for anyone curious about the evolution of words.



 Ambrose E. Burnside, a one time manufacturer of rifles, became a colonel in the First Rhode Island Volunteers at the outbreak of the Civil War.  When enlistment of his 90 day regiment expired, Burnside remained in uniform, having been made a brigadier general by Abraham Lincoln.

He is the only man who twice refused command of the Army of the Potomac – only to accept that post under the stern orders from the president.    His daring but foolish attempt to cross the Rappahannock River in 1863 ended in a famous, or infamous, “mud march” in which Robert E. Lee’s mocking Confederates pretended to offer help to place pontoon bridges for his troops..  Removed from command, he was sent to Ohio.  There he was the key figure in an unconstitutional punishment of a former U.S. Congressman, whom he banished into Confederate territory.

At war’s end, Ambrose E. Burnside served three terms as Governor of Rhode Island, and was then elected to the U.S. Senate.  Yet the most enduring memorial to a dashing and colorful soldier-politician is the descriptive term “sideburns,” briefly described in these pages.

Numerous huge scholarly works, notably the 22,000-page Oxford English Dictionary, offer detailed accounts of the way speech has developed.  Yet volumes produced by academicians are not easy to use.  Neither do they appeal to millions of persons who everyday employ hundreds of written and oral words and phrases.

Why You Say It, is precisely what the title suggests: a collection of fast-moving accounts of expression in wide use.

In 1955, Abingdon Press published a volume of the same title, with many similar emphases.  This time, I have dug into a great many words and phrases not even in use thirty-six years ago..  In addition, I have tried to take into account the new openness of our speech.  Influenced by novels and television, today, we think nothing of referring to a prostitute, or a condom, for example.  These and many other terms were taboo in polite circles until very recently.

This volume is offered primarily for your enjoyment, secondarily as a all-too-brief popular reference work.  Delving into these pages, you’ll find many stories that you will be tempted to introduce into your conversations.  Please do so. Anytime you are so inclined!

Should you be called upon to provide material for a program, adaptations of accounts included here are suitable for many occasions.  Note that the listings entitled “See Also” are suggestive, but by no means exhaustive,; exhaustive; a quick glance at a few pages will yield other vignettes in the same category.

Space makes it impossible to compile listings of stories in all subject matter categories treated.  If you care to do so, you may readily identify and use the accounts relating to these and other special interests:

automobiles                        horses

baseball                              hunting and fishing

biblical words                     medicine and health

books                                 music

Civil War words                   mythology

con men                             poker

cowboys                             politics

farming                               railroads

fashion                              sailors and the sea

food and drink                    science and technology

football                               sex

golf                                    war

Here’s hoping that you’ll have fun discovering why you say some of the things that mark you as an individual, using inherited words and phrases in a fashion that is unique to you.

                                                                                                                  Webb Garrison

                                                                                                                  Lake Junaluska, N. C.                                   

Contents by Chapter


  1. The World of Entertainment
  2. Many Were Famous, Others Merely Rich
  3. Feathers and Fur
  4. Names and Games
  5. Sports Talk Often Follows the Ball
  6. These Make Sense!
  7. Distance Lends Enchantment – Words From Afar
  8. Money. Business, and Commerce
  9. Why Don’t Folks Say Precisely What They Mean?
  10. The Great Outdoors
  11. Making Fun of Others
  12. Some things Are Not What The Seem
  13. Going Places – Then and Now
  14. One Person’s Food…
  15. Borrowed from the British
  16. Stories to be Taken with a Grain of Salt
  17. Comparisons That Froze in Speech
  18. Action Is the Name of the Game
  19. Say, Did you Know…?


Paperback  356 pages  ISBN-10: 1-55853-128-4

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