Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Episode 52: Wind 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. So first off, we live in Derby, Kansas, which is a suburb of Wichita, also in Kansas. Yesterday morning, just before 5:00 AM a cacophony of sounds began to happen. And uh, all at the same time, the weather alert radios began to blare, my phone started going off, the outdoor warning sirens all went off. And in the Midwest, outdoor warning sirens are more commonly known as tornado sirens. Bleary eyed and sleepy, it's down to the basement until everything blows over, so to speak, idiom wise.
Shauna:                               00:40                    Nice. I see what you did there.
Dan:                                     00:40                    Thank you. Thank you. Yes. While no one was injured in the storm, but one thing we do know is the storm passed over a weather measuring station, which recorded sustained winds at 76 miles per hour or 122 kilometers per hour, and wind gusts up to 111 miles per hour or 178.6 kilometers per hour.
Shauna:                               01:05                    That's really fast.
Dan:                                     01:07                    That is, ah, ridiculous, yes. So for those who don't deal with Midwest storms, category one hurricanes must have a sustained wind of 74 miles per hour. So at 76 miles per hour, or as I said, 122 kilometers per hour, we have that covered. We were fine. That was our wind speeds were absolutely during that storm met category one hurricane standards. Of course there there's more to it than just that. But wind speed wise, we are fine. Uh, and if so we had gusts at 111 miles per hour or 178.6 kilometers per hour. So if sustained, that would have been in the category three hurricane range, which of course that was just our gust. It wasn't sustained for a minute, but that was our gust. And so it is, that is, that is wild - buck wild and yeah, but anyway...
Shauna:                               01:58                    So normally on bunny trails we delve into the origin and history of an idiom or another turn of phrase and we discuss how it's been used over time. But due to the storms, we decided to jump into some research to identify a few idioms dealing with the winds. Cambridge dictionary gives us the definition of throw caution to the wind or winds as "to do something without worrying about the risk or negative results", and they share the example. "I threw caution to the wind and bought the most expensive one."
Dan:                                     02:28                    Oh, well, that does actually sound 100% like you.
Shauna:                               02:36                    Hey! The phrase in the wind began being used to mean in or into the direction from which the wind is blowing or to windward in the late 15 hundreds and a, there's a good example from 1582 The first booke of the historie of the discouerie and conquest of the East Indias, by Fernão Lopes de Castanheda, translated by Nicholas Lichefield. "He cut and made his course into the sea to bring himself in the wind of those sails". And then in the mid 16 hundreds that phrase began to be used in conjunction with a verb in a more figurative meaning. The Oxford English dictionary combines these into one entry and gives us "to fling, give, throw, et cetera to the winds to cast away, reject utterly. So to go to the winds, to be cast away or aside to vanish utterly" In paradise lost, which was written in 1667 by John Milton is the first attestation in print "And fear of death deliver to the winds". And so this usage of a figurative phrase that had "into the winds" with some verb or some or some objects subject being cast into the winds. Uh, it was seen all the way through the late 18 hundreds in At Bay, which is an 1885 work by Mrs. Alexander whose real name was Annie Hector.
Dan:                                     04:08                    Good name. I like that. Good name. I swear to God we have talked to her. We have talked about her.
Shauna:                               04:14                    We talked to her?!
Dan:                                     04:14                    We did not talk to her. That's weird. She has been, yeah, we've seen a seance and stuff. No, I swear I swear to God I did. Uh, no I I really feel like we've talked about Annie Hector before. Have we talked about Annie Hector?
Shauna:                               04:27                    Yeah, we have.
Dan:                                     04:27                    Okay, good. Ah, cause you said Mrs. Alexander, I was like, I, this is very familiar to me.
Shauna:                               04:34                    "You must throw your fears to the wind."
Dan:                                     04:37                    All right Annie Hector, I love it.
Shauna:                               04:38                    That's a good one. The Helena independent out of Montana, the January 23rd, 1891 morning issue chronicles and historic fight between Jack Dempsey and Bob Fitzsimmons, the article Jack Was Never In It, was shared
Dan:                                     04:56                    HAHAHAHA! A fight between Jack and Bob. The article. Jack wasn't there. Jack didn't do it. Jack was never involved.
Shauna:                               05:06                    And uh, they also shared this along with the, an axiom as the subtitle: "A good little man cannot whip a good big one." All right, so side note here at Fitzsimmons achieved Guinness Book of World Records Fame as the lightest heavyweight champion at 165 pounds.
Dan:                                     05:26                    I think that I see what's happening here. So I misinterpreted this to mean, Like Jack was never in it, meaning Jack wasn't there, but what they mean was Jack had no chance of beating Bob. Ever.
Shauna:                               05:36                    Yeah. Uh, so yeah, I know this Fitzsimmons uh, Bob Fitzsimmons is pretty, pretty, uh, bulk guy on the top half of his body.
Dan:                                     05:47                    All right. I liked the way you did that.
Shauna:                               05:48                    Yeah, I already had good reach. Really strong. I had some cool nicknames and all.
Dan:                                     05:52                    Your strength has nothing to do with your reach. It's your height.
Shauna:                               05:55                    Okay.
Dan:                                     05:56                    He has both of those things is what you are saying.
Shauna:                               05:59                    Yes. Yeah. He had both. "No one could have blamed him had he quit at this stage of the game, but there is not a drop of craven blood in him. His faithful seconds freshed him up wonderfully. When the gongs sounded for the next round, he threw caution to the wind and he went at Fitzsimmons with the energy born of despair. His onslaught was so sudden that he planted two neck blows and one stiff bodier before Fitzsimmons countered."
Dan:                                     06:26                    I really appreciate that. And it reminds me of M*A*S*H, which is among my favorite shows ever, possibly my favorite show ever. And when they said no one could have blamed him had he quit at this stage of the game. That's how I felt about, um, was it Trapper I believe Trapper John. Okay. Who in the show, not the movie who ended up fighting, Hawkeye couldn't because of, you know, a shoulder injury of some sort. But anyway, so Hawkeye, not Hawkeye, Trapper, Trapper then had to fight in a boxing match and uh, all of the, um, people that they were lusting after were then also, uh, all lusting after Trapper because he'd put himself in harm's way and Hawkeye was like, oh, but, but my shoulder and uh, okay then. So it was very funny to me as a, as a child watching that, but also still slightly comical to me as an adult where I'm like, that's what you get for not putting yourself out there like Trapper did.
Shauna:                               07:23                    Right. We get to hear about someone whose name many may recognize in the article. Cassidy, a bad man.
Dan:                                     07:30                    Is this Butch Cassidy?
Shauna:                               07:31                    It is indeed.
Dan:                                     07:32                    Do they talk about the Sundance kid?
Shauna:                               07:34                    No.
Dan:                                     07:35                    Oh, I hate this history.
Shauna:                               07:38                    Well, I mean, it was a really long article. Uh, cause he was, I mean, just ah, I mean it was a bad dude. Like there's less stuff happening. Yeah.
Dan:                                     07:46                    Cassidy?
Shauna:                               07:46                    Yeah.
Dan:                                     07:46                    It's called Cassidy: A bad man. Yeah. The dude was not a good person.
Shauna:                               07:50                    So there were updates regularly on, on Cassidy and his
Dan:                                     07:54                    Badness? How bad he was as a human. How, what a crap human he was. Yes, of course. Yeah. That seems reasonable.
Shauna:                               08:00                    Yeah. Uh, so this was from the June 18th, 1898 issue of the Neihart Herald out of Montana. "And then the cowboy shot the outlaws horse, which had been grazing in the open that was more than butch could handle throwing caution to the winds. He ran towards the clump of bushes with a pistol in each hand barking at each step. But Hughes considering discretion the better part of valor had jumped on his horse and succeeded in making good his escape."
Dan:                                     08:29                    I, as a young man, I used to think that standing and fighting was the best, uh, option. But as I get older, and maybe this is me getting softer, I don't know, but I do agree with Major Bludd, "He who fights and runs away lives to fight another day." Discretion is the better part of valor.
Shauna:                               08:52                    In the May 8th, 1915 issue of the Day book, uh, this is the moving picture edition. It's out of Chicago, Illinois.
Dan:                                     09:02                    <imitating Scruff McGruff the Crime Dog> 60652
Shauna:                               09:02                    This is A Story About Some Real Life And A Novel. "Robert Hitchens wrote a novel of society life, with a heroin accustomed to the royal purple, and scheming to retain her clutch on luxury and the respectability of married life until she lost her heart to a man other than her husband and threw caution to the wind, tried to poison her husband and trapped though unsuccessful admitted her intended crime that she might be freed to fly to her lover."
Dan:                                     09:33                    It must be 50 ways to leave a lover. That's a Paul Simon Song. Way after this.
Shauna:                               09:40                    I don't think we have the rights for that either.
Dan:                                     09:42                    Oh then I, thankfully no one would know what I was trying to sing by my singing abilities cause they're pretty bad.
Shauna:                               09:48                    And finally in the blog post 10 Things You MUST Eat (& 'Gram).
Dan:                                     09:54                    Instagram!
Shauna:                               09:54                    In NYC This Summer by Stephanie Maida , June 20, 2019, she shares: If there were ever a reason to throw caution to the wind (and your diet out the door) this summer, chances are you'll find it somewhere on this list. She then proceeds to share details and beautiful photos of seafood platters, giant burgers, and more delicious-looking foods.
Shauna:                               10:22                    All right, I think you're up next. Dan.
Dan:                                     10:25                    I wanted to talk about it being an ill wind and this full phrase here. So I've heard the phrase, it's an ill wind, right? But the full phrase is actually, it's an ill wind that blows nobody any good. Yeah. So in various proverbial and other expressions "figuring or denoting a force agency or influence that drives or carries something along or that strikes upon something or that which something is exposed to". Okay. That was a whole lot of stuff, right? But the Oxford English dictionary is not known for their brevity. So, uh, the point is it's an ill wind that blows nobody good and it's kind of a neutral or favorable sense. The first time we see wind used in this figurative sense about the ill land right is through Chaucer's Troilus & Criseydein 1374 or roughly there in. Okay. All right. "And what manner winds guide you now here". Right. From It's An Ill Wind is, "a loss or misfortune usually benefiting someone." For example, they lost everything when that old shed burned down, but they got rid of a lot of junk as well, it's an ill wind. So the concept of it's an ill wind would be, it is bad for somebody but good for somebody else.
Shauna:                               11:46                    Gotcha. Okay.
Dan:                                     11:48                    Right. So this expression appeared first in John Heywood's 1546 proverb. The use of ill wind is most commonly in the phrase, it's an ill wind that blows nobody any good. This is the first recorded use and it is in John Heywood's 1546 proverb collection, as I mentioned, titled A dialogue conteinyng the nomber in effect of all the prouerbes in the Englishe tongue, which, again, I just loved titles back in the day.
Shauna:                               12:24                    Right? You know what you're going to get.
Dan:                                     12:24                    Right, exactly. Here, let me read this to you: "As you be much the worse, and I cast away An ill wind that blow no man to good, men say Well every wind blow no down the corn I hope good luck be not all out worn." So Heywood's meaning was that a wind was unlucky for one person would bring good fortune for another. And this sailing metaphor has frequently been invoked to explain good luck arising from the source of others' misfortune.
Dan:                                     12:57                    And it probably predates 1546. so 1546 is just the first time we've seen attested, but it was probably used long before that. So, in fact, the phrase remains so well known today that is often shortened from it's an ill wind that blows nobody any good to simply, it's an ill wind. That meaning which is still understood today is subverted somewhat later to provide a second meaning. And so from, In rob Roy, Sir Walter Scott included, "Nane were keener against it than the Glasgow folk, wi' their rabblings and their risings, and their mobs, as they ca' them now-a-days. But it's an ill wind blaws naebody gude." This meaning is clearly the opposite of the old proverb that is a wind that didn't provide benefit to somebody would be bad and an unusual one indeed. So there was a little joke that was popularized by this whole concept and it was popularized by Danny Kaye's character in the 1947 film The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, "And the oboe is clearly understood is an ill wind that blows no one, no good." So here's another thing. Uh, from the evening star out of Washington DC on June 2nd, 1938, there is a advertising post where they say, "Thank the Weatherman for this unexpected Sale! Cold weather, wet weather, unseasonable weather left the manufacturers of summer tropical suits with a huge surplus by placing a large order. When orders were scarce, we had the pick of tropicals that sell for much higher prices. So this ill wind blows plenty of good to the men of Washington. Imagine this 1000 mens, $20, $22.50, $25 and $27.50 tropical suits." And that means $27 and 50 cents us.
Shauna:                               14:54                    That's not very expensive for a suit. But also I really want to know what they mean by tropical suits. Are these like, you know, I can't imagine that they had tropical patterns on them.
Dan:                                     15:06                    Listen to Shauna in 19... in 1938 style. No. In 1938, every man wore a suit.
Shauna:                               15:13                    I realize that. And so this was probably like some sort of shorts or thin light linen-y suit, maybe you think? Like a lighter weight suit. I don't know. I don't know. I want to imagine that there were like palm frond patterns .all over that.
Dan:                                     15:26                    That is literally not at all... I did see the rest of that from the Chronicling America Library and that was not what that looked like, but I do want to say from the National Post in Toronto, Canada, June 19th, 2019 so like a few days ago, Kelly McParland said "There's one of those hoary saying people like to quote when they can't think of anything else to say and it goes like this...".
Dan:                                     15:52                    Actually I'm going to stop right there and define hoary because I was like h o a r y. What? That means... It's an adjective and it means old and trite, which maybe Canadians use in, in the Canadian version of English. Maybe they use it a lot, but in eat in Midwest, southern Midwestern English that I have been raised on, I've never heard Hoary H O A R Y. Also if I'm saying that wrong, someone please correct me.
Dan:                                     16:21                    Hoary means old and trite, so it goes like this. "...It's an ill wind that blows no one any good. That'd being the case Jagmeet Singh, maybe enjoying one of his few moments of optimism today. Thanks to the liberal government big pipeline announcement" and they go on to talk about the announcement, which everyone guessed was coming anyway, and they talked about the different concepts of it and what this meant for other people, but nonetheless, I thought it was very funny that they continue just a few days ago to use It's An ill wind blowing no one any good or in this case they flipped it a bit. It's an ill wind that blew this guy good at least, right? Yeah, so all right.
Dan:                                     17:00                    Today's show is sponsored by our patrons on Patreon. You make bunny trails possible. We'd like to think our patrons and especially our logamorphology 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:                               17:38                    Now I want to talk about one of my favorites. And this one is a run like the wind. The phrase is really mostly used as a like the wind and then it has some other verb placed before and anytime someone says like the wind, they mean very quickly with great haste, frequently to run. Like the wind is the, is the main phrase that's used. But lots of other words are placed before that. So this phrase was first seen in print in the late 15 hundreds, which I was really surprised by. That's kind of a long time ago. Uh, and before I share that quote, I want to give just a tad bit of backstory on the 1583, uh, publishing of this text. Margaret Tyler’s translation of the Spanish Romance by Diego Ortúñez de Calahorra, The Mirror of Princely Deeds and Knighthood, published in 1578, coincided with, and helped fuel, the contemporary boom in romance fiction, such as John Lyly’s Euphues (1579) and Sir Philip Sidney’s Arcadia (1580), and was her sole venture into print. Tyler’s prefatory address to the reader, which follows her dedication to her patron Thomas Howard, is the first published defence by a woman in English of the ability and equality of women writers in the world of masculine patronage, judgement, and power. It is a spirited and witty defence of intellectual equality and liberty of action, along with refutations of many key contemporary arguments used against women writing, publishing, or translating.
Shauna:                               19:20                    "He spurred his Cornerino with great furie, that he made him runne like the winde." All right, so in Don Quixote, by Cervantes uh, in 1652, "At one spring shee hath leapt over the crupper, and without spurs makes the Hackney runne like a Musk-Cat, and her Damzels come not short of her; for they flie like the winde." So I thought that one was really neat because it uses flies like the wind. Um, and so it Kinda has that different format of the phrase in 1925 in an American speech. And this was made available through the American dialect society, which, um, kind of collected speeches and released them in large groups. Um, so there wasn't always an author attributed "A Mustang when startled erects his tail in a sudden quick gesture and runs like the wind. "
Dan:                                     20:09                    MMM. You know, I have to say Shauna, this entire time we were looking at this and I even posted about it on Patreon. I have had a song stuck in my head that I will not sing here because you've already chided me once for attempting to sing. But the song has literally been stuck in my head since we started talking about this yesterday.
Shauna:                               20:32                    Uh, I will have to admit that when I started researching this phrase, the song also was stuck in my head immediately. And that song is ride like the wind. This is a song that was written and recorded by the American singer Songwriter Christopher Cross and it was released in February of 1980 as the lead single from his grammy winning self titled Debut Album. I thought it was really cool. This one reached number two on the US charts for four consecutive weeks. It only fell behind. Blondie's call me,
Dan:                                     21:04                    Call me, Call me.
Shauna:                               21:06                    I love that one. But there's another song a little more recent that has our idiom in the first line. This one was released in 2018 and it falls into the dance electronic genre and it has a really great beat Spin With You by Emma Sameth & Wolfe, featuring Jeremy Zucker starts with the lyrics: Got a lot on my mind You got a lot on yours But we can run like the wind, baby
Dan:                                     21:29                    I just want to include one more thing that I ran across for wind in the Oxford English dictionary before you wrap us up here. One of the definitions going back to approximately 1000 c e is "wind, air or gas in the stomach or intestines or according to early notions, other parts of the body; flatus" so the definition...
Shauna:                               21:54                    That's a gross word.
Dan:                                     21:54                    What?
Shauna:                               21:54                    That sounds like a gross word, I dunno.
Dan:                                     21:57                    Okay. You know what? You're not wrong. The definition is where we get the phrase to break. Wind is an idiom for passing gas or flatulence or more crudely farting. The Oxford English dictionary defines break wind as "to break wind, to discharge flatus from the stomach or bowels", which thank you, Oxford English Dictionary for giving us such a very polite way to have said to that. As an American, I appreciate your dedication to politeness.
Dan:                                     22:31                    Of course, Francis Grose in the dictionary of vulgar tongues 1811 also used break wind in the definition "THOROUGH COUGH. Coughing and breaking wind backwards at the same time." The concept that in 1811 Francis Grose said if you coughed and also broke wind backwards... Farted? Flatulence? I don't know? If you did those at the same time you were thorough coughing.
Dan:                                     23:02                    And last but not least, I want to pitch this months lightly-edited, mini-episode. Staying with the theme, we explore the idiom “Three Sheets to the Wind”, which basically means drunk. And while it appears it appears to be nautical in nature, there seem to be some arguments of whether 2 sheets or 4 sheets is fine, and only 3 is bad. Or some who claim it has nothing to do with ships, and instead claim windmills! Our monthly mini-episodes are a perk for the Word Nerds who support us on Patreon at the $7 a month tier or higher. Join the Community and get access to ALL of the mini-episode that have ever been put out and decide for yourself how many sheets to the wind are okay and whether or not it’s sails, windmills, or some other blowing-air-related idiom.
Shauna:                               23:51                    Yay. 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 other turn of phrase, or if you just want to chat, you can catch us on social media, mostly on Twitter, @bunnytrailspod or on Patreon at
Dan:                                     24:19                    You can get copies of our transcripts, listen to the episode, and get links to everywhere we are at Thanks again for joining us. We'll talk to you again next week. Until then, remember...
Together:                           24:32                    Words belong to their users.

1 comment:

  1. This episode is so fun and witty. Dan is blown in a thousand directions with every reference. He just has too many favorite songs, or at the very least, ear worms.

    Shauna gets intrigued with the notion of tropical suits and a fanciful debate ensues.

    A must listen. Just don't laugh to hard or you might...