Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Episode 49: Wedding Idioms Transcript

Click on “Read More” for the full transcript.

We used Temi to auto-transcribe this, then Dan went through and checked it based on the show notes. He tried really hard on it, but this kind of stuff isn't his specialty. So if you notice anything confusing, please comment on this post so Dan can look at it and clarify anything.

Shauna:                               00:00                    Welcome to bunny trails, a whimsical adventure of idioms and other turns of phrase. I'm Shauna Harrison
Dan:                                     00:05                    and I'm Dan Pugh. Each week we delve into the origin and history of an idiom or other turn of phrase and discuss how it's been used over time. This week we're going to do a special segment, a themed episode as we do from time to time. But first I want to say a huge congrats to our patron Mary Lopez for tying the knot this weekend. Shauna, you and I both attended the wedding, which was a steam punk theme wedding. What'd you think?
Shauna:                               00:31                    I, it was pretty cool actually. I'm a little bit geeky sometimes, so I got into it. It was fun.
Dan:                                     00:37                    Yeah. Steam punk is not one of my normal cosplay type things, but I last minute through together something and I think it went off okay. Wasn't the greatest, but it wasn't, uh, it wasn't embarrassing either.
Shauna:                               00:52                    Fair enough. I think I just had items from my regular closet and I don't know what that says about me.
Dan:                                     00:58                    Well, it might be more your, um, your style than mind. All right. Well, Mary, it was great to be there for you while you got hitched and we wish you and Kadir all the best. And with that we're going to explore some wedding themed idioms. So first up we're going to talk about tie the knot. So according to the Oxford English dictionary to tie the knot is "to effect a union between two persons or things, especially to perform the ceremony of marriage."
Dan:                                     01:26                    Now knot has been around since the mid 12 hundreds as a stand in for marriage. As an example, the legend of Saint Catherine used the middle English, cnotte, C N O T T E to mean "the tie or bond of wedlock or the marriage or wedding knot".
Dan:                                     01:43                    And then we see our phrase, uh, as we use it now as early as 1620 in May's The Heir, "the happy not you tie concludes in love two houses emnity."
Dan:                                     01:54                    We see it again as another example in that timeframe, 1631 in Shirley's, The School Of Complement, "You mean to tie that knot, nothing but death is able to undo."
Dan:                                     02:06                    And then one of my favorite examples is in, uh, Francis Grose's Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue. And this was from the 1811 version. "He has tied the knot with his tongue that he cannot untie with his teeth..." *Laughter*
Shauna:                               02:20                    Oh Man.
Dan:                                     02:20                    "... ie, he is married."
Shauna:                               02:22                    That's awesome.
Dan:                                     02:24                    Yes. So, uh, and then we're, we'll round out here a little bit later with some more examples from the Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue. But first, uh, I saw many suggested origin stories for this one, including that, uh, that said in, in ye olden days of course before metal springs on beds, they used ropes, which kind of makes sense. I didn't really know much about the history of beds before this episode. Uh, but in order to make a marriage bed of two to one, you would need to then tie the knots together and that would be tying the night. Of course, there's no evidence to support this at all. And then I researched the history of beds and got off on a little side tangent there, which I'm not going to go down here cause it's not even a particularly good bunny trail. But it was fascinating. So, um, that will be in our show notes.
Shauna:                               03:11                    I'm imagining essentially like a hammock with a mattress over it.
Dan:                                     03:15                    Yeah.
Shauna:                               03:15                    Kind of concept for, to make the bed softer.
Dan:                                     03:18                    No, mostly when this phrase came about, people would not have had any expectation of privacy in the bedroom because it wouldn't have been a bedroom. Everybody kind of slept in the same spot.
Shauna:                               03:27                    Right, okay.
Dan:                                     03:27                    So even, and like woven strings might've been used at some times, but there's just these two, the phrase and the history of beds don't really line up at any point to, um, indicate that this would be where that comes from.
Shauna:                               03:42                    Gotcha.
Dan:                                     03:42                    And, and we don't, I mean, I don't think many, anybody really thinks that's the case. It's just a fun story.
Shauna:                               03:47                    Ah
Dan:                                     03:48                    There's another story from the Roman times where the brides girdle was tied in knots on the wedding day and then the groom of course, after the ceremony would have to untie the knots prior to the wedding night shenanigans, uh, which I will just say this in Roman times, almost everything was told from the man's point of view. So if this phrase came from that, we would call it untying the knots, not tying the knots... Or something equally frustrating I'm sure. Uh, the most likely origin is with the wedding customer of handfasting where the couple has their hands tied together as a symbol of bonding the early Romans and Celtic's frequently used handfasting in marriage ceremonies and many Hindu weddings continue the custom today.
Shauna:                               04:30                    Yeah. Is that, that was the one I thought of actually was the handfasting. I've um, heard of that in my family's history and you know, other places as well.
Dan:                                     04:38                    Yeah. And that would make sense because that that custom was around long before we started to see, knot used a middle English as a wedding thing. And in fact it just started being used there in middle English as if it, as if everybody already knew.
Shauna:                               04:53                    Gotcha. Okay. Well up next we are going to jump the broom. I mean not like right this minute, but jumping the broom symbolizes sweeping away the old and welcoming the new people actually jump over brooms for the ceremony.
Dan:                                     05:09                    That seems odd to me. But you do you.
Shauna:                               05:13                    uh, so the origin is not very clear, but several stories state that this is an African tribal ritual consisting of sticks laying on the ground representing a couple's new home or that the spray of the broom symbolizes the people and the handle the Almighty who holds them all together.
Dan:                                     05:30                    When you said that, uh, representing the couple's new home, I kind of thought of the tradition of carrying someone over the threshold, which I know some European countries do. So I wonder if those, I'm sure you didn't research that far into it, but it does make me wonder now and I may have to look that up to determine if there's some correlation between the, uh, the sticks laid on the ground representing the couple's new home and the crossing the threshold into the new home or a newly married.
Shauna:                               05:58                    Well the customer has been practiced in Wales since the 17 hundreds, and it's used there now as a sort of common law marriage, uh, like a symbolic act.
Dan:                                     06:07                    Oh, okay.
Shauna:                               06:08                    The actual phrase jumping the broom was seen for the first time in literature in the 17 hundreds in French and English writings. And uh, a good example is 1839 in The Standard of London, "When the commissioner said he thought Mr. Taylor was rather advanced in life to think of marrying again, he said, am I indeed many women have offered to jump over the broomstick with me."
Dan:                                     06:32                    Of course. Of course he said that.
Shauna:                               06:35                    He's got some confidence...
Dan:                                     06:35                    That sounds like a classic, pompous, over... Overly sure of himself, man.
Shauna:                               06:42                    In 2006 in the New York Times, there was an article with a quote that reads "After they exchanged vows, they jumped the broom in the African American tradition and smashed a glass in the Hebrew tradition."
Dan:                                     06:54                    Oh, I love the mixing of different traditions and customs together.
Shauna:                               06:58                    Yes. So in this one, there was uh, one side of each family that, that had different traditions they wanted carried over.
Dan:                                     07:04                    So awesome. I love that.
Shauna:                               07:06                    There was also a 2011 movie called jumping the broom. Two very different families converge on Martha's Vineyard one weekend for a wedding. The tagline for the movie is sometimes the only way to get past family drama is to jump right over it.
Dan:                                     07:21                    Haha. We had, I think we had a very similar conversation this weekend where you might've been the one to point it out or somebody else, I think that was at the wedding, uh, had mentioned that sometimes my preferred style of moving through something is to just punch right through it.
Shauna:                               07:36                    Just drive right on through.
Dan:                                     07:37                    Just go. Just keep going. All right. So next up is getting hitched. Getting hitched, uh, or getting hitched up is a phrase that was originally a nautical term that came around in the 15 hundreds actually.
Shauna:                               07:49                    Oh Wow.
Dan:                                     07:49                    It entered the English lexicon talking about marriage in the 18 hundreds and it evolved from hitching your horses together, meaning you've got along well to the concept of getting married or hitching up for life. An early example from 1857 by Josiah Holland in The Bay-Path; a tale of New England Colonial Life said “Now and then a feller gets hitched to a hedge-hog [of a wife].”
Shauna:                               08:12                    Oh no. A hedgehog...
Dan:                                     08:15                    I don't know, hedgehogs can be kind of cute.
Shauna:                               08:17                    Yeah, I actually think they're adorable.
Dan:                                     08:18                    But I bet that's not what they meant.
Shauna:                               08:20                    And cuddly. I don't think that's what... but prickly.
Dan:                                     08:23                    Well they can be prickly, but no, they can be cuddly, too. They don't like... If... Unless their things are sticking out they're not really stabby.
Shauna:                               08:29                    Maybe it's not an insult after all.
Dan:                                     08:31                    Um, maybe not. Let's presume it wasn't. Another example and one that I'm going to use just because I love the title of really old books or, or books or in the 18 hundreds at least and 1700 is uh, this is Sydney Buckman John Darke’s sojourn in the Cotteswolds and elsewhere
Shauna:                               08:47                    Of course.
Dan:                                     08:49                    That's a great, that's a great title. It's not even very long considering the time.
Shauna:                               08:52                    Yeah, I was expecting a whole paragraph there.
Dan:                                     08:54                    Right? So Sydney Buckman wrote, “Twarn’t long avor we got hitched up together”.
Dan:                                     09:01                    Specifically meaning marriage
Shauna:                               09:02                    My goodness,
Dan:                                     09:02                    I know. Right? Twarn't and yeah, that's great. That's great.
Shauna:                               09:05                    That's fantastic.
Dan:                                     09:07                    Well, today's show is sponsored by our patrons on Patreon. You make bunny trails possible. We'd like to thank all our patrons and especially our lagomorphology interns, Charlie Moore, Pat Rowe, and Mary Lopez. is a subscription service that allows you to support content creators you love. It's free to sign up and to follow along. If you're in a financial situation that allows for monetary support, you can get additional perks for as little as $1 a month. Features like early access to episodes, behind the scenes content, bonus episodes, and more are all available at
Shauna:                               09:41                    All right, it's time to take the plunge. As soon as the phrase take, the plunge appeared in English. It was almost immediately associated with marriage In 1771 in Pazzie d'Orlando “Very fine truly—excellent husband!” And the reply, “I have taken a plunge indeed.”
Shauna:                               10:00                    The phrase truly just means to commit oneself to a course that doesn't allow one to turn back, but it's so often used to describe marriage that it now frequently is used independently to indicate getting married or engaged.
Dan:                                     10:13                    Oh, okay. That makes sense.
Shauna:                               10:14                    Yeah. Sometimes people still use it, uh, I've seen it in some financial things, but, but generally it's, it's the marriage stuff. Uh, there are some really fun stories about couples using the idiom today for their wedding theme. Uh, we're taking the plunge. One couple got married, uh, the wedding party, piano, and all of them, all of this whole group was on a platform 160 feet in the air. And then as soon as the bride and groom were announced, uh, they bumped, he jumped.
Dan:                                     10:42                    Nice.
Shauna:                               10:43                    Yeah. Not the piano
Dan:                                     10:45                    Right.
Shauna:                               10:45                    Yeah. The couple, another couple took a submersible that was used for the Hollywood movie "Titanic" down to the wreck of the actual Titanic and said their vows underwater.
Dan:                                     10:55                    Interesting.
Shauna:                               10:56                    Yeah. They had to have the ceremony on their knees because the craft was too small for them to stand. But I thought it was a really cute.
Dan:                                     11:04                    Nice. We'll suddenly, the a steam punk themed wedding that we just attended doesn't seem quite so, uh, out of traditional place, does it?
Shauna:                               11:12                    Right, yeah, yeah. It's not that out there.
Dan:                                     11:15                    Well, let's talk about a match made in heaven. So originally it was known as a marriage made in heaven, meaning an ideal or perfect romantic union or a marriage between two people. Uh, and it's, oh, it's been extended into other areas of course now, but, uh, generally speaking, when someone says a match made in heaven, they're talking about two people who are in love. So the idea of perfect marriages being made in heaven dates much, much older than our phrase as this 1580 example attests in Lyly Euphues and his English "marriages are made in heaven though consummated in Earth."
Shauna:                               11:52                    Ah.
Dan:                                     11:53                    Yeah. Interesting. So the whole concept is like the union was already made and there's some sort of a soulmate type of thing that was made in heaven and then their consummated on earth, which I think is exactly the opposite of what Jesus talks about in the Christian Bible where he talks about like marriage. There are no marriages in heaven. They don't work the same way as you think about the here, uh, which kind of makes the whole concept of soulmates, not a really Christian concept, but, uh, that does not seem to have translated very well for people from about Peter onward in the Christian faith
Shauna:                               12:29                    Somewhere it got dropped.
Dan:                                     12:29                    I'm not sure if there is some translation errors, uh, from the original words or if, uh, there's just like a, but we really want to have soul mates. I don't know,
Shauna:                               12:39                    But I like that idea, it's so romantic.
Dan:                                     12:42                    So in 1727, Daniel Defoe of Robinson Crusoe fame and an essay called Conjugal Lewdness, uh, for short, the full title of the 1727 essay was Conjugal Lewdness or Matrimonial Whoredom but he was later asked to rename it for the sake of propriety. The modified title became A Treatise Concerning the Use and Abuse of the Marriage Bed. Uh, his, so in specifically in this, he said, "Is this matrimony? Is this a marriage made in heaven?"
Dan:                                     13:09                    And he used this because he thought that any contraception was a form of, um, basically you just were killing babies if you use contraception.
Shauna:                               13:17                    Ah, okay.
Dan:                                     13:17                    I'm not sure what his, uh, assessment it would be for, um, males who, um, self pleasured. I'm not sure what his assessment on that would be, but probably something along the same lines of mass murder, maybe? I don't know how that would work.
Shauna:                               13:31                    Crazy, Yeah. That's an interesting thought. Yeah...
Dan:                                     13:31                    I mean, yeah, they would, hey, I guess if you're going to say one, you're going to have to go to a logical conclusion on the other.
Shauna:                               13:43                    Yeah, one would think.
Dan:                                     13:44                    Um, so anyway, by the 18 hundreds, the phrase was used as we use it today, like in this June, 1819 article in the North American review saying "as this was truly a match made in heaven, they live happily and have children and grandchildren."
Shauna:                               14:01                    Awww
Dan:                                     14:01                    This book Match Made in Heaven by Bob Mitchell was from 2006. And I love the concept of this book. "50 year old Harvard literature professor has a heart attack. He cries out to God for help. And to his surprise, God appears. God Asks Elliot", who is the professor, "why is life should be spared and decides to offer Elliot a chance to save his own life by playing a golf game? But this is not an ordinary golf game. His opponents turn out to be selected from heaven by God and includes such famous historical figures at Shakespeare, Socrates, Beethoven, Moses, Freud, Picasso, and others." So this is a humorous fiction sports fiction book. Right? But I, uh, I still haven't read it, but I, it's definitely on my to be read list now. Yeah.
Shauna:                               14:45                    Like a very interesting combination of individuals there.
Dan:                                     14:49                    Yeah, absolutely. Absolutely. All right, well let's wrap this up with a few phrases for marriage from the 1811 Dictionary of Vulgar Tongues by Francis Grose. So first one up Giblets. So " To Join Giblets: a set of a man and a woman who cohabitate as husband and wife without being married."
Dan:                                     15:09                    So this is the precursor. Uh, so when, uh, as many couples do cohabitate now, uh, and have for many years that before they've gotten married, then in 1811, you might call them Giblets.
Shauna:                               15:22                    Hmmm... My goodness. I pay, I can decide like how awful was this term then? You know?
Dan:                                     15:29                    Well I mean, the concept was vulgar tongues meaning not appropriate for the rich and wealthy. Yeah. So it doesn't mean it's necessarily Cursewords or bad things. It just wouldn't be something you said in polite society.
Shauna:                               15:42                    I see. Okay.
Dan:                                     15:44                    All right. So leaping over the sword was, and this is also still from that dictionary of vulgar tongues, "An ancient ceremonial said to constitute a military marriage. A sword being laid down on the ground, the parties to be married joined hands , when the corporal or serjeant of the company repeated these words: 'Leap rogue, and jump whore, And then you are married for evermore.' Whereupon the happy couple jumped hand in hand over the sword, the drum beating a ruffle; and the parties were ever after considered as man and wife."
Shauna:                               16:16                    Okay, I see. Yes. That's kind of interesting. So does this like link the jumping over the broom thing or is that coming from something else?
Dan:                                     16:25                    Yeah I guess it's kinda along those same lines because in this case you jumping over a sword, which would have been a symbol of the military at the time. Yeah, definitely. Yeah. It's also interesting the words they use for the man and the woman here, cause rogue was also not considered to be a good thing. So this was almost a, uh, playful ribbing where you called them names that would not be considered polite, but then, you know, they were happy about it anyway.
Shauna:                               16:47                    Yeah. And does it have to do with the fact that they're like, okay, this is all you got to do, jump over a sword?
Dan:                                     16:53                    Well, I mean, let's be honest, if you look at most traditional marriage ceremonies, there's a whole lot of things you do. But the truth is you just have to be like, yes and ts and sign here.
Shauna:                               17:02                    Right.
Dan:                                     17:03                    So, uh, all right, so a couple of others that are a little more to the point, Priest-linked meaning married
Dan:                                     17:10                    Spliced, which also means married. And it says that it's "an allusion to the joining of two rope end by splicing", which was a sea term.
Shauna:                               17:18                    Huh.
Dan:                                     17:19                    So this is something you might hear someone who was out at sea would use is spliced.
Shauna:                               17:23                    I kind of like that actually.
Dan:                                     17:25                    Yeah. There's also one that they used Tenant For Life, which makes sense, but it's "a married man, specifically possessed of a woman for life."
Dan:                                     17:33                    And then yoked is the last one in the book that they have mentioned, which simply means married.
Shauna:                               17:39                    Yeah, that burden. *Laughter*
Dan:                                     17:42                    Well that about wraps us up for today. Thanks for joining us. If you haven't already, take a moment to go to your podcasting app and rate us, spread the love to your fellow word nerds by letting them know how much you enjoy the show. If you have a suggestion for an idiom or another turn of phrase or just want to chat, you can catch us on Twitter and Instagram and occasionally even Facebook all @bunnytrailspod, or get links to everything we do at
Shauna:                               18:07                    We want to say a big thank you to everyone who sent us notes and comments about your favorite idioms and turns of phrase. Next week is episode 50 so remember to tell your friends about the show so we can all explore them together. We're on iTunes, Spotify, Castbox, Himalaya, Stitcher, RadioPublic, and so many more so you should be able to find us just about everywhere. Thanks again for joining us. We'll talk to you again next week and until then, remember
Together:                           18:34                    words belong to their users.

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