Verbivore's Feast
A Banquet of Word and Phrase Origins

by Chrysti Meuller Smith

published by Farcountry Press

  • After spending some time out of print, Verbivore's Feast is now available as an ebook!

    What led to the expression "let the cat out of the bag"? Why do we call blondes "towheads"? For Pete's sake, what is a fangle?

    In this humorous and engaging collection of word origins and histories, the famed host of the "Chrysti the Wordsmith" series (heard on Yellowstone Public Radio, Montana Public Radio, Montana State University's KGLT-FM, and Armed Forces Radio and Television Service) shares the stories behind the words. This irresistible medley is a must for word lovers everywhere.

Ebook only! - $2.99

    Did you know?
  • The word ukulele was inspired by the flea?
  • When you're delirious, you're "plowing your field in crooked rows."
  • St. Audrey, an English abbess, died from a throat tumor in A.D. 679. Her life and death inspired the word tawdry.
  • If you're mediocre, you're only "halfway up the mountain."
  • A disgruntled 18th century English playwright was the first to complain that someone stole his thunder.

Verbivore's Feast, Second Course





Verbivore's Feast
A Banquet of Word and Phrase Origins


To bring home the bacon means to win a prize, return home with something valuable, or support a family by working. The most likely source of this expression is the greased-pig contests at American county fairs — whoever captures the pig gets to keep it and bring home the “bacon.” This “greased pig” sense of the phrase was first recorded in 1925.

Another suggestion — less likely but more colorful, and certainly more ancient — involves an annual custom initiated in 1111 in Dunmow, Essex County, England. The church officials in that town offered a whole side of bacon (called the Dunmow flitch) to any couple who could prove their marital felicity. The contenders were to kneel on two sharp stones beside the Dunmow church door and swear before God that they had neither quarreled nor wished themselves unmarried for a year.

The trick for the couples was convincing a mock jury of six bachelors and six maidens of the veracity of the claim. The names of the fortunate couples who brought home the bacon are recorded permanently in the church at Dunmow.

Chrysti Meuller Smith align= Chrysti M. Smith is host of the radio series "Chrysti the Wordsmith," produced at KGLT-FM on the campus of Montana State University in Bozeman and also heard on Yellowstone Public Radio in Billings, Montana, on Montana Public Radio in Missoula, Montana, and worldwide on Armed Forces Radio and Television Service. Smith lives in Belgrade, Montana.

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