Remark all these roughnesses, pimples, warts and everything as you see me, otherwise I will never pay a farthing for it.
Photo credit Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Farthing_1946_GeorgeVI_Wren.JPG
A farthing was
one fourth of an old penny, of which there were 240 in £1 0s. 0d.
So, if I have got my sums right, there were 960 of them in one pound sterling. While I was a child, farthings were withdrawn from circulation.
Leaps and bounds…
…two sorts of jumps are described in this phrase, which is often used as “going along in leaps and bounds”. The near repetition is for emphasis.
Rhubarb and custard
is not my favourite pudding. It sets my teeth on edge. Rhubarb (on its own) is a word repeated by actors to give the effect of background conversation. Once, when I went to a camp for Girl Guides, there was a big gathering for a campfire sing-song. During the evening a reverse menu was used to give the impression of something else. I’ll let you read the menu first, preferably aloud, before I spoil the effect.
Cheese and biscuits. Cheese and biscuits.
Rhubarb and custard. Rhubarb and custard.
Boiled beef and carrots. Boiled beef and carrots.
Fish ‘n’ chips. Fish ‘n’ chips.
Salt and pepper
are condiments placed on the table in a cruet. The colour of someone’s hair may be described in this way if they are going grey.
As different as chalk and cheese
is a simile influenced by alliteration. Chalk is hard, brittle and inedible and cheese is soft, squashy and edible. I can’t resist pointing out that there is a similarity, in that you might want to wash your hands after handling chalk or cheese!
Flotsam and jetsam
are words, which go together to mean odds and ends. Flotsam floats and jetsam is thrown up onto the shore.
Odds and ends
are remnants or stray articles according to The Concise Oxford Dictionary.
Going in fits and starts
means spasmodically. The Concise Oxford Dictionary lists this after meaning #2 “sudden transitory state”.
Alive and kicking
could perhaps refer to a newborn baby, but is a possible jokey response to the question, “How are you?”
Dawned bright and fair
is a cliché to avoid. I have never forgotten a teacher’s reaction to a piece of writing which began, “Saturday night dawned bright and fair.”! I hope it was long enough ago, that the perpetrator has either forgotten all about it or can laugh at it.
Left high and dry
sounds like a beached whale or a grounded ship. It means isolated.
It’s six of one and half a dozen of the other
means two people are equally to blame.
Add two and two to make five.
This is not arithmetic, but guessing about a situation and getting it wrong.
Chop and change
is another alliterative pairing to emphasise the meaning of the second word. Chop can mean cut, which could lead to cut and paste. At junior school a friend and I made a magazine using scissors and glue. Now I use a mouse!
A peaches and cream complexion
might have been considered typical of an English milkmaid.
Food again…did you recognise the steam train in the reverse menu above?
By and large
is another way of saying “in general”.
Ups and downs
are part of life as well as the landscape.
Far and near
are two more opposites, which together cover a large area.
Off and on
are yet another pair, meaning sometimes. Much of our modern life depends on this pair. The binary system is the concept of a switch being off or on and the two symbols 0 and 1 can be combined to construct any number. Computers were originally programmed in binary, but the codes quickly became very long and hexadecimal was used instead.
Dribs and drabs…
…more alliteration (What do you mean, you noticed already?!?) The entry for the meaning of this pair in the Oxford Concise Dictionary is “Small scattered amounts.”
Onward and upward
sounds like the instructions for climbing a mountain. But, isn’t life like that sometimes?
Right and proper
means correct and appropriate. I had hoped to give a quotation here, but haven’t found one yet. Can you help?
The straight and narrow
is a corrupted version of the strait and narrow way. Strait is an archaic word for narrow, mainly preserved in place names, eg the Straits of Gibraltar.
In St Matthew’s Gospel Chapter 7 verses 13-14 (NIV) Jesus’ words are “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.”