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Brass tacks, whale-the-synonym, midway

Brass tacks
I learned a new idiom! "getting down to brass tacks" Never having heard it before, I naturally assumed it was an English Englishism, but this page tells me that it was first attested in Texas in 1863.

"getting down to brass tacks"

I use it myself
I know it well.
I have heard it before.
It's unfamiliar.
Brass tacks?

It suddenly struck me last week that "whale" as a synonym for human fatness, along with "blubber", seemed distinctly American to me (as opposed to British). True?

At dinner last week after her BSFA interview, Jo Fletcher wondered what a midway ride was. We settled on a "fair ride" as the closest easy translation.

Then this week, I read Drop Dead, Gorgeous (thanks to impulse library browsing), a large swathe of which takes place at an Iowa State Fair fairground which really does not resemble the original. For example: what main building? And if you had a large fairground designed to host tens, if not hundreds of thousands of people, would you keep it closed 50 weeks a year if you could possibly use it a fair number of other weeks of the year for other events? By the time our main characters have done an incoherent tour of various farflung bits of the grounds, they could have been out of an exit many times over; but they were waiting for "the" exit.

Also, and more relevantly, the well-known really-tall slide is no indication at all that they are on the midway. Because it isn't.


Oct. 4th, 2011 01:32 pm (UTC)
"Beached whale" is not uncommon - particularly for late-stage pregnant women! "Blubber" as a term for the fat itself is not unusual, though not pleasant.
Oct. 4th, 2011 01:33 pm (UTC)
Would a non-pregnant person consider saying something like "I feel like a whale today", meaning "fat", as a vaguely standard phrase?
Oct. 4th, 2011 01:50 pm (UTC)
Uncommon, I'd say. I can't recall it being used other than in a mood of pretty severe self-loathing.
Oct. 4th, 2011 02:09 pm (UTC)
I agree with gillo that whilst "blubber" is pretty common, whales are not popular as similes when talking about fatness. Hippos and elephants are more likely to be used.