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Natural Fawn Killers-ORiGiN The Game

Poison dart frogs of the genus Phyllobates produce among the most potent of all naturally occurring, nonprotein toxins—the batrachotoxin alkaloids. Some Indian groups smear the secretions from these frogs on blowgun darts in order to kill game. The poison leads rapidly to cardiac failure in wounded game, but the meat of such animals is safe for humans to consume.

Natural Fawn Killers-ORiGiN The Game

hold all the cards/play your cards right/hold your cards to your chest/card up your sleeve/put, lay your cards on the table - be in tactical control/make the right tactical moves/keep your tactics secret from your opponents/keep a good tactic in reserve/reveal your tactics or feelings - there are many very old variations and expressions based on the playing cards metaphors, and none can clearly be attributed to a particular source or origin. The origins of western style playing cards can be traced back to the 10th century, and it is logical to think that metaphors based on card playing games and tactics would have quite naturally evolved and developed into popular use along with the popularity of the playing cards games themselves, which have permeated most societies for the last thousand years, and certainly in a form that closely resembles modern playing cards for the past six hundred years. On which point, Brewer in 1870 cites a quote by Caesar Borgia XXIX "... The Vitello busied at Arezzo, the Orsini irritating the French; the war of Naples imminent, the cards are in my hands.." as an early usage of one particular example of the many 'cards' expressions, and while he does not state the work or the writer the quote seems to be attributed to Borgia. Caesar, or Cesare, Borgia, 1476-1507, was an infamous Italian - from Spanish roots - soldier, statesman, cardinal and murderer, brother of Lucrezia Borgia, and son of Pope Alexander VI.

ducks in a row - prepared and organised - the origins of 'ducks in a row' are not known for certain. Usage appears to be recent, and perhaps as late as the 1970s according to reliable sources such as 'word-detective' Evan Morris. Brewer's 1870 Dictionary of Phrase and Fable fails to mention the expression - no guarantee that it did not exist then but certainly no indication that it did. Certainly the expression became popular in business from the 1980s onwards, especially referring to being prepared for any important business activity requiring a degree of planning, such as a presentation or a big meeting. Reliable sources avoid claiming any certain origins for 'ducks in a row', but the most common reliable opinion seems to be that it is simply a metaphor based on the natural tendency for ducks, and particularly ducklings to swim or walk following the mother duck, in an orderly row. The image is perhaps strengthened by fairground duck-shooting galleries and arcade games, featuring small metal or plastic ducks 'swimming' in a row or line of targets - imitating the natural tendency for ducks to swim in rows - from one side of the gallery to the other for shooters to aim at. Shooters would win prizes for hitting the ducks, which would fold down on impact from the air-rifle pellets. The ducks would then all be returned to upright position - in a row - ready for the next shooter. The sense of a mother duck organising her ducklings into a row and the re-setting of the duck targets certainly provide fitting metaphors for the modern meaning. Less reliable sources suggest a wide range of 'supposed' origins, including: A metaphor from American bowling alleys, in which apparently the pins were/are called 'duckpins', which needed to be set up before each player bowls. The obvious flaw in this theory is that bowling pins or skittles - whether called ducks or not - are not set up in a row, instead in a triangular formation. Some suggest ducks in a row is from translated text relating to 'Caesar's Gallic Wars' in which the Latin phrase 'forte dux in aro' meaning supposedly 'brave leader in battle' led to the expression 'forty ducks in a row', which I suspect is utter nonsense. Other highly unlikely suggestions include references to soldiers of the 'Bombay Presidency' (whatever that was); military tents; sailors trousers; and an old children's game called 'duckstones', which certainly existed in South Wales but whose rules had absolutely nothing to do with rows whatsoever.

stand pat - stick with one's position or decision - this is a more common expression in the USA; it's not commonly used in the UK, although (being able to do something) 'off pat' (like a well rehearsed demonstration or performance) meaning thoroughly, naturally, expertly, just right, etc., is common in the UK, and has similar roots. To 'stand pat' in poker or other card game is to stick with one's dealt cards, which would have reinforced the metaphor of sticking with a decision or position. Dictionary definitions of 'pat' say that it also means: opportune(ly), apposite(ly), which partly derives from a late-middle English use of pat meaning to hit or strike accurately (rather like the modern meaning of patting butter into shape, and the same 'feel' as giving a pat on the back of confirmation or approval). More pertinently, Skeat's English Etymology dictionary published c.1880 helpfully explains that at that time (ie., late 19th century) pat meant 'quite to the purpose', and that there was then an expression 'it will fall pat', meaning that 'it will happen as intended/as appropriate' (an older version of 'everything will be okay' perhaps..). Significantly Skeat then goes on to explain that 'The sense is due to a curious confusion with Dutch 'pas' and German 'pass' meaning 'fit', and that these words were from French 'se passer', meaning to be contented. So there you have it. All down to European confusion. The expression led to considerable ironic amusement when used on numerous occasions in comments about (and by) President Richard Nixon because the first lady's name was Pat (Nixon); notably his sticking to his story in the midst of the Watergate tapes scandal when a newspaper headline during the crisis: 'Nixon To Stand Pat On Tapes'....

(didn't know whether to) spit or go blind - uncertain, indecisive, or in a shocked state of confusion - the fact that this expression seems not to be listed in the major reference sources probably suggests that usage is relatively recent, likely late 1900s. Usage also seems mostly US-based. Most commonly 'didn't/doesn't know whether to spit or go blind' is used to describe a state of confusion, especially when some sort of action or response or decision is expected or warranted. Commonly used to describe a person in a pressurised or shocked state of indecision or helplessness, but is used also by commentators to describe uncertain situations (political situations and economics, money markets, etc.) Perhaps an interpretation and euphemism based on 'shit or get off the pot' expression (euphemisms commonly rhyme with obscenities, ie spit = shit), and although the meaning is slightly different the sense of delayed decision in the face of a two-way choice is common between the spit/go blind and shit/pot versions. Spit and go blind are a more natural pairing than might first be thought because they each relate to sight and visual sense: spit is used as slang for visual likeness (as in 'spitting image', and/from 'as alike as the spit from his father's mouth', etc.) Conceivably (ack Ed) there might be some connection with the 'go blind' expression used in playing card gambling games ('going blind' means betting without having sight of your own hand, raising the odds and winnings if successful) although unless anyone knows better there is no particular evidence of this association other than the words themselves and the connection with decision-making. 350c69d7ab


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