What’s in a phrase?

The Simple Things - - ESCAPE | OUTING -

Soft fruits are used in ex­pres­sions to il­lus­trate a va­ri­ety of sit­u­a­tions. Here are just three…

Blow a rasp­berry You prob­a­bly know how to blow one, but why this par­tic­u­lar sum­mer fruit? A clas­sic case of rhyming slang: rasp­berry tart equals fart. Usu­ally done as a mild in­sult.

Cherry-pick Se­lect­ing only the best peo­ple or things from a group to serve a par­tic­u­lar pur­pose, with neg­a­tive con­no­ta­tions. Cherry-picker was orig­i­nally Amer­i­can rail­way slang, says the OED, for a sig­nal­man (con­trol­ling cherry-like red lights), but also re­fer­ring to any rail­way­man who hogged the best jobs (from ‘life is a bowl of cherries’).

Play goose­berry What now means ‘to be an un­wel­come sin­gle per­son with one or more cou­ples’ orig­i­nally re­ferred to the role of a chap­er­one in the 1800s, when cou­ples needed a third wheel for the sake of pro­pri­ety: ac­tiv­i­ties such as pick­ing goose­ber­ries could oc­cupy the chap­er­one, leav­ing the cou­ple free to en­joy a de­gree of in­ti­macy.

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