Category Archives: Phrases

Tie One On

What was said? “You going to tie one on?”

Did someone really say that? Yes, Vince Vaughn to Colin Farrell on the 2nd episode of True Detectives Season 2.

What does it mean? Basically – to get really drunk.

Origin: Multiple theories exist:

  1. Derived from the term “hang one on” – which refers to the “hang”over that one hangs onto the morning after you drink / “hang” one on. With this origin, many believe that tie one on means to begin drinking before your hangover from the previous night has worn off – therefore tying onto the previous drinking session (The Wordsworth Book of Euphemism” by Judith S. Neaman and Carole G. Silver – Wordsworth Reference, New York, 1983, 1990)
  2. In the wild west of the USA, there was a notion that you had to tie up your host to a post outside a watering hole / saloon hence the “tie one on” saying (most sources believe this is not the true origina)
  3. An old British saying “Tie a bun on” where “bun” refers to drunkenness where on one site there is a theory that the “bun” refers to proving your sobriety by balancing a bun on your head, and if you are drunk you would tie it on so it wouldn’t fall off.


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Filed under Business Sayings, Idiom, Idioms, Phrases, Sayings

It’s a Real Doozy

What was said? “It’s a real doozy!!”

Did someone really say that? Yes, at my nephew’s birthday party, a friend said that when discussing citric powder used in middle eastern cuisine.

What does it mean? To call something/someone a “doozy”, is to suggest it is extraordinary, one of a kind, remarkable or even bizarre. It is used both positively (as in the example above), and also at times to describe something that is troublesome or even difficult.

Origin: Sometimes spelled Doozy, Doozie, Doosie, Doosey, Duesey… there are a few of beliefs on where the expression originated.

1. A car!!  Beginning in 1921, during the Great Depression, two German-born brothers, the Duesenbergs, hand-crafted a luxury, american-made automobile line named after them. The vehicle was FAST (later model years winning Indy 500’s and the French Grand Prix) and EXPENSIVE (owned by the rich and famous). It came to be known as a “Duesey” and is one belief as to where the expression originated. NOTE: You may recognize it from the Great Gatsby movie with Leonardo DiCaprio (pictured below is a 1929 Duesenberg Model J, worth over $3 Million)

2. A Flower! Back in the 18th century, calling something a “daisy” was to call it great. The phrase made it’s way from England to North America, and appeared in print in 1836, in Thomas Chandler Haliburton’s The Clockmaker: “I raised a four year old colt once, half blood, a perfect picture of a horse, and a genuine clipper, could gallop like the wind; a real daisy, a perfect doll, had an eye like a weasel, and nostrils like Commodore Rodgers’s speakin’ trumpet”.

3. An Actress! Eleonora Duse, a famous Italian-born actress from the 19th century who spent time in the US and was greatly admired by President Cleveland and his wife, was commonly referred to as “Duse.” It is believed that this nickname, in combination with the “Daisy” origin, created the saying “Doozy.”


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Filed under Business Sayings, Idiom, Idioms, Phrases, Sayings

Shrinking Violet

What was said? “I’m no shrinking violet. I’ll tell him exactly how I see it!”

Did someone really say that? Yes, when in northern Michigan, a friend said that about another friend and his idiosyncrasies.

What does it mean? Shrinking violet refers to a shy or modest individual, so in the case above, my friend was saying that she was in fact the opposite – more outspoken and outgoing.


Most sources say that the phrase originated in the UK and refers to the violet flower, from the Viola family of flowers, which also includes pansies. The violet flower in the UK was known as a reclusive and understated flower, that is modest in nature because it grows close to the ground, is quite dainty and its flowers are sometimes hidden in its leaves and by nearby shrubs. A poetry magazine, The Indicator, contains what many believe was the first written instance of the saying from Leigh Hunt, published in 1820:

There was the buttercup, struggling from a white to a dirty yellow; and a faint-coloured poppy; and here and there by the thorny underwood a shrinking violet.

In the USA, the figurative use of the term describing individuals as shy/modest is most common. Also, there are two more commercial uses for the term:

  1. Weight loss wrap titled “shrinking violet” helping women “shrink a size”
  2. Book series for young girls where a “shrinking violet” is the main character and has many adventures making her go from normal to mini-me from time to time


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