The poor house

We are at Ebola level of contagious at my house. Be glad you are reading this from the safety of your own house. There is a whole lot of fever, snot, and me screaming "cover your cough." I may not survive.

 The other day I was waiting in line and heard the guy in front on me use about 4 idioms. One that stuck out in my head was "if you run with a dog you'll get fleas." I had always heard the saying "If you lie down with dogs, you will get up with fleas." Which I guess is close enough. This got me thinking about where these old sayings came from. 

A while back I was riding in the car with my coworker and she pointed out this house. I thought it was gorgeous. She said its the poor house. HUH?!?!? The poor house is a real thing? Apparently so. This house is no longer the poor house, but at one time it was used to house people who couldn't provide for themselves (or who were caught begging in public) 
Going along with the theme of poor....

If you relied on selling your urine to the tanneries for a living, you were considered piss poor. If you didn't have a pot to collect your urine in to sell, you didn't have a pot to piss in. My mom use to add to the or a window to throw it out of. No clue where that came from.

7 comments

  1. "...or a window to throw it out of." That's mixing in a reference from a different time and place than the rest of the expressions. It used to be the custom, back in Europe, that people living in towns would simply empty their chamber pots directly into the street. (In fairness, it merely added to all the horse, livestock and rat feces, not to mention the mud, that was a halmark of city life without proper sanitation.) Not coincidentally, this is partly where the traditional notion of "clean living" out in the country came from; poor farmers rooted around in the muck all day as well, but they could get away from it for at least *part* of the day, if they were fastidious...
    It's been joked that if Ren Faires really wanted to strive for authenticity, they should just spray you with shit as you walk in the gates.

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  2. That's what I though. Isn't throwing pee out the window also where men walking on a certain side of a woman came from?

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  3. Oh, I love these old, off-color idioms. Like "rule of thumb," which came from an old rule in which you could beat your wife, but only if the object you were using was less than the width of your thumb. I mean, you want to teach her a lesson, not kill her!

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  4. If I remember correctly, the rule there is that men are supposed to walk on the side closest to the street- to minimize the chance of being splashed by (or hit by) passing horses/carriages/cars/etc.

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  5. Not really. We had a snow day today and I am keeping them home one more day. I hope that we will finally be over this.

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  6. lol Oh yes that one is a good one too.

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