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.
Ever heard someone say they had to run the gauntlet? Most people know what this means, but not perhaps the origin of the word. And for those of you who don't know what it means, I'll enlighten you.
During the Thirty Years War (1618- 1648) the English army adopted a punishment they observed their German counterparts employing. The offending soldier stripped to the waist and ran between two lines of their fellow solders, each of whom was holding a whip or a lash, and they beat their buddy on the back as he passed. Number of run throughs and number of knots in the lashes depended upon the severity of the soldier's crime.
Sound rough? Well, we're German. However, the German army claimed to have picked it up from the Swedish, where it was known as gatloppe, literally translated as "the running of the lane."
So think about that next time you're in a really nice development whose streets are all called "Insert Relaxing Word Here - Lane."