Thursday, March 4, 2010

Pope's nose

Today's post will be short and (to some, delectably) sweet (3rd image, from Thailand). It depends how you feel about the "south end of a chicken going north," as my Dad used to phrase it. My Mom, on the other hand, calls the tail end of the chicken (2nd image) the "pope's nose." The last time she used that expression, we wondered where it came from. Well, it turns out to be several centuries old. The Oxford English Dictionary cites its first use in print in 1788 by English antiquary and lexicographer Francis Grose (1st image). But Wikipedia finds a 15th-century reference to the related phrase "parson's nose" in the form of a derisive carving in an English church, and reasons that it characterizes the vicar as having his nose in the air like what is technically known as the chicken's pygostyle. The expression was modified to the "pope's nose" to demean Catholics and the "sultan's nose" to insult Turks during the wars with the Ottoman Empire.

No comments:

Post a Comment

You may add your comments here.