I'm such a big nerd that I tend to look up word origins in my spare time because I'm fascinated by our language. The odder the origin, the better. I've got a collection of random information in my brain that makes me an awesome Trivial Pursuit partner, but is completely useless when it comes to real world application. Like say, job applications.
I thought I'd share some of this random crap with you in the form of another acronym-ific series. I give you - Word Origins from Left Field - that's right, the WOLF. Er... ignore the fact that the "from" doesn't fit.
I have to admit that I'm not very good at eating crow. In that vein, I've got a fun one today. While the origin story I found is somewhat dubious, it's just interesting enough that I wanted to share it with you.
Supposedly, the phrase "to eat crow," meaning something disagreeable a person faces after they are caught in the wrong (like er... apologizing?) has its roots in the last days of the War of 1812. At that time there was an armistice in effect along the banks of the Niagra River, and during such periods the members of each garrison often went hunting in order to fill the larders.
During one such hunting trip that proved fruitless, an enterprising Yankee solider cross the river to the British side in search of larger game. Finding nothing, he took a shot at a passing crow. While the bird fell, it also brought the Yankee to the attention of a British officer, who came upon the enemy soldier while he was reloading. The Brit was unarmed, so instead of threatening the Yank he feigned friendliness and amazement at such a great shot and asked to see the gun that had brought down the crow.
The hapless Yank handed it over, and the Brit turned the gun on him, berated him for trespassing and then made him take a bite of raw crow to drive the lesson home. The Brit then returned the gun (whatever else you can say about them, the British have excellent manners) and the Yank in turn aimed it at him and made him finish off the meal.
The incident became public knowledge when the British soldier came to the Yankee garrison the next day to demand that the foot solider be punished for breaking the armistice. When the soldier was brought before his Captain and asked if he'd ever seen the Englishman before he replied, "Why yes, we dined together yesterday."
Is it true? I don't know, but it makes a good story.
And that's almost better, right?