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September 25, 2023 3 min read

Indian Summer? What?  Why?

Where do we get the term "Indian Summer"

We’re having an Indian summer, it would seem. But do you know the origins of the phrase that has been appearing in weather reports for the last few days? 

Read on to find out more and how we use other country's in other well known phrases!

 

 

Indian Summer

 

This probably comes not from the east, but the American Midwest, where warm weather in the autumn is common, and Native Americans would take advantage of it to hunt and stock up on food for winter. In 1778, a French American, St John de Crevecoeur, wrote: “Sometimes the rain is followed by an interval of calm and warmth which is called the Indian Summer; its characteristics are a tranquil atmosphere and general smokiness.”

 

 

 

Going Dutch

 

Britain and The Netherlands were both allies and colonial rivals, during this period, a Dutchman, William of Orange, became king of England in 1689, and these connections can be seen in common phrases like Going Dutch, which refers to the even splitting of a bill, may be a reference to a Dutch door, which is divided horizontally halfway down, but could simply be a derisive term born out of our colonial rivalry. It’s hardly chivalrous not to offer to pay the whole bill.

 

Mexican standoff

 

This expression dates back to the 19th century, and is possibly a result of real experiences during the Mexican–American War or in gunfights with post-war Mexican bandits. It may, however, like the Dutch idioms above, simply be a derogatory term, like “Mexican breakfast” (which refers to a cigarette and a coffee).  

 

Mexican wave

 

There is disagreement regarding the origins of the wave itself, with suggestions that it first appeared at US sporting events during the late 1970s. Krazy George Henderson, however, a professional cheerleader, is the first video proof of one, on October 15, 1981 at a Major League Baseball game in Oakland, California.

We call it a Mexican wave because of its widespread use at the 1986 FIFA World Cup in Mexico.

 

French kiss

 

The amorous reputation of the French is to blame for this phrase, which came into use at the start of the 20th century, but the French didn’t invent it. It was once known as a “Florentine kiss”

Our old rivals France appear in several other phrases, most of them uncomplimentary, such as a French letter (a condom), pardon my French (to apologize for swearing) and the French disease (syphilis).

 

Glasgow kiss

 

A tongue-in-cheek reference to the city’s violent reputation, this is a recent addition. In 1982 the Daily Mirror was the first to print the term: “Glasgow has its own way of welcoming people. There is a broken bottle gripped in the fist of greeting. Or there’s the Glasgow Kiss – a sharp whack on the nose with the forehead.”

 

“Liverpool kiss” – meaning the same thing – dates back to 1944.

Sent to Coventry

 

The events of the English Civil War could be responsible for this one. In The History of the Rebellion and Civil Wars in England, Edward Hyde, 1st Earl of Clarendon, recounts how captured Royalist troops were taken as prisoners to Coventry.

Luck of the Irish

 

According to Edward T. O’Donnell, author of 1001 Things Everyone Should Know About Irish American History: “During the gold and silver rush years in the second half of the 19th century, a number of the most famous and successful miners were of Irish and Irish American birth. Of course, it carried with it a certain tone, as if to say, only by sheer luck, as opposed to brains, could these Irish men succeed.”

 

 

 

When in Rome

The oldest saying on our list. St Ambrose is attributed with the phrase “if you should be in Rome, live in the Roman manner; if you should be elsewhere, live as they do there”