Worth a gold guinea or a war pension?

On The Way
By Olivia Fowler

There are some interesting phrases still in use in our region which date back as far as 1560 in Great Britain.

Have you ever heard an adult threaten a child with the phrase, “Rawhead and Bloody Bones will get you” when the child is behaving badly? How about the phrase, “I would have given a gold guinea for it,” in speaking of a coveted item?

“He paid a war pension for it,” when referring to the cost of something?
Digging around in language is a great way to learn more about the origins of our ancestors.

Raw Head and Bloody Bones was first written of in Great Britain before 1600 and was much spoken of in Yorkshire and Lancashire Counties. The monster was bloodthirsty and lurked in wait for disobedient children, seizing on any chance to snatch them up and do away with them.

The gold guinea spoken of is a pre-revolutionary British coin equal to about 11 shillings.

The war pension phrase is often used as a comparison for how expensive something is. It dates to the Revolutionary War, when it was worth about $80 American dollars. This was a large amount of money for the times and was paid to disabled veterans. A half pension went to widows and orphans.

The phrase “hogwash” first appeared around 1450 in England and referred to the slop given to hogs to eat. By the time 1712 rolled around, it was used to describe cheap liquor. Sixty years later it had changed to cover the written word when poorly done and now is applied as a description of anything spoken or written that is ridiculous or intended to cover the truth.

The phrase “Bible-thumper” is believed to have originated in the mid 1800s and is a derogatory reference to those who put on a aggressive public show of their own belief, and are somewhat rigid in insistence in imposing their interpretations upon others.

And then there’s that old favorite, “rotgut.”

There are a couple of different versions of how this became part of the English language. Both are disgusting. One theory is the phrase developed in the Wild West, when whiskey sometimes contained plug tobacco or soap to supposedly make it more palatable.

We can only imagine what the brew tasted like before soap and tobacco were added. It couldn’t have been good.

Another theory is the phrase came from the practice of shipping bodies back to England from the colonies packed in hogsheads of rum, then draining the liquor and selling it, hence the term “rotgut.”
Take your pick. Neither is very appetizing.

Has anyone ever threatened you with the phrase, “I’ll pop you winding?”
This is something my Grandmother was sometimes driven to say. We never were sure exactly what it meant and still don’t know. Is anybody out there knowledgeable about this phrase?

We never thought there was good intent behind it, and it always made us pull up our socks, straighten up and fly right.