Archives for posts with tag: games

Shakespeare wrote about the various beliefs about why lives turn out the way they do.  In Hamlet God is put forward as being in control.

There’s a divinity that shapes our ends,
Rough-hew them how we will.

The fault is in ourselves not in our stars
is a popular version of a quotation from Julius Caesar, where astrology is not given much credit.

The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars,
But in ourselves, that we are underlings.

If you play you cards right…
…I used this saying for the title of a post about card games and chess.  Card games include an element of chance as well as skill.

A sweepstake is a sort of lottery or a particular form of gambling on horse races, for example.

Anything can happen on the day is a saying about the unpredictability of the future.

Anything can happen in the next half hour introduced every episode of Stingray.

No illusions.  A conjuror or prestidigitator creates illusions.  Someone with no illusions knows reality – most probably about themselves.

Time-honoured describes a tradition, which has lasted.

Heads or tails?  is a question asked by the person who is about to toss a coin.   The obverse of the coin has a head on it and the reverse is known as the tail.  Another expression is Heads I win, tails you lose.  Someone is determined to get their own way.

Ye gods! (and little fishes) I was wondering whether to include this expression, but as I heard the first part of it on a train the other day here it is.  I have no idea what caused this reaction from a passenger, who had just got on and found somewhere to sit.  My Mum used to add the part about the fishes.  Perhaps it related to Neptune.  I don’t recommend any interjections invoking the name of gods or of God.  The latter would contravene the 3rd of the Ten Commandments. Exodus 20: 1-17  If you call upon other gods, you may get more than you bargained for.

Touch wood is a superstitious comment by someone who has just revealed their plans.  Touching wood is supposed to ensure that the hoped for successful outcome will ensue.

It worked like a charm is a popular simile.  A charm is either a spell or a lucky symbol as on a charm bracelet.

It’s a gamble refers to a risky decision.  Gambling is placing stakes (bets of money) on the outcome of an event such as a horse race.

A fount of all knowledge is a phrase applied to a know-all.  I have not managed to find a source for it.  Please excuse the pun!

Consult the oracle. In the ancient world an oracle was a place to go to find out what was going to happen.  Nowadays the title oracle is applied to someone who seems to know everything.   It is used in a joking way.  Even by Shakespeare’s time, this was done. The Merchant of Venice opens with the lines:

I am Sir Oracle,
And when I ope my lips let no dog bark.

In the Bible an oracle was the Word of God received by a prophet.  Isaiah proclaimed oracles about many places.  Isaiah 14:28-32 is a fairly short example.   Chapters 13-30 of Isaiah include many oracles.  Different translations of the Bible render them as prophecies or burdens.

Like father, like son.

This saying is usually about behaviour or characteristics.

A show-off is attention-seeking or not backward at coming forward.

Top of the form was the name of a radio quiz show where teams from schools around the country competed.  A form is an alternative name for class in a school setting.  In old-fashioned schoolrooms such as some which may be seen in National Trust properties (for example the Apprentice House at Quarry Bank Mill, Styal.) pupils sat on benches or forms.  The brightest child was the top of the form.  There was also an expression, “Go to the top of the class and kiss the teacher!”  A bright child might be teacher’s pet.  Pet here means favourite.

Quarry Bank Mill (Photo credit Wikimedia commons)

A child wonder or prodigy ahead of his or her age group would be a precocious child.

A love-child is a euphemism for an illegitimate child.

A brain-child is not a child at all, but possibly an invention or other result of thinking something out.

A frump does not worry what she looks like.

A tomboy is a girl who enjoys playing games boys are expected to play.  I climbed trees and rode bikes and  roller-skated round the suburban streets. I was stung by a hibernating bumble-bee when I helped a boy in my group of playmates move his go-cart made from pram wheels and wood.  In the North of England go-carts are called bogies.  A go-kart is not the same thing at all!

A mummy’s boy is one who goes running to his mother at the slightest upset.

Sleepy head is a name for a child who should be on the way to bed.

A shining example and an example to us all are people to be looked up to and copied, whether in our families or elsewhere.

Piggy-in-the-middle is a ball-game.  Three people play.  The piggy-in-the-middle stands between the other two and tries to catch the ball as they pass it between themselves over the head of the piggy.  When the piggy-in-the-middle succeeds, the person who has thrown the ball becomes the next piggy-in-the-middle.  There are other situations where people may feel they are being overlooked and are a piggy-in-the-middle.

A go-between takes messages between two people who cannot communicate directly for whatever reason.  In families where communication has broken down between certain individuals another may take on the role of go-between.

A scapegoat is someone who is made to take the blame.

Leviticus Chapter 16 contains the instructions for the Day of Atonement, when the High Priest confessed all the sins of the people, sacrificed one goat and put all the sins of the people onto the head of the scape goat, which was led out into the desert and released.

Psalm 103:11-12 uses the word transgressions instead of sins.  Transgression is a crossing of the line dividing right from wrong.