Writer’s Block: Idiomatic Confusion

There are a bunch that don’t make a lot of sense. But here are the ones I can think of right now:

  • Clean as a whistle – Aren’t there a lot of germs in one?
  • Cute as a button – When was the last time you heard someone raving about how cute a button was? I should start saying Cute as a Kitten, haha. JK.
  • Could care less – It’s not that the saying doesn’t make sense but that people say it wrong. The correct saying is "I couldn’t care less". Think about it.
  • Fat chance – Wouldn’t that mean you have a big chance? Slim chance makes sense.
  • Dense – Calling someone dense means they’re dumb. But when I think of someone’s brain as being dense, I think that it’s highly compacted with information, making them smart, not stupid. Then again, dense also can mean "thick; difficult to penetrate" so it could mean if their brain is dense, then it’s hard to get things through. I guess it just depends on how you look at it. It’s probably not the best adjective to use.
  • LOL – It used to mean Laughing Online. But people use it when they’re texting or otherwise not "online". Now it means Laughing Out Loud. But most of the time someone uses LOL, they’re not really laughing out loud. (People aren’t actually rolling on the floor, laughing when they used "ROFL" but we know that it’s meant figuratively).
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4 Comments to “Writer’s Block: Idiomatic Confusion”

  1. LOL has always meant Laughing Out Loud as far as I know – from way back in the day before the internet, when people used to dial in to BBSes. I remember using it as early as 1991 on Compuserve. We used to use G for grin, BEG for Big Evil Grin, EG for Evil Grin and BG for Big Grin, too, but I don’t think those get used anymore except by old timers like me. *G*

  2. Randomly passing-by …
    I am right there with you on dense. If someone is dense, then surely there is a lot to them! But maybe, as with “fat chance,” it’s use is intended to be ironic.
    Clean as a whistle: pure, clear toned, with clarity; or complete, whole note. It’s similar to ‘clear as a bell’.
    I’ve heard that cute as a button refers to the button quail which some think is cute, but whether that’s true or not I don’t know.

  3. When I first started going online, back in 1994, I was told it meant Laughing Online. When people would say LOL in chatrooms back then, a lot of people would ask what that meant (since most people were new to the internet) and everyone would always say Laughing Online. And AOL used to even give out a guide when you first joined with what everything meant and explained what 🙂 was and all the different abbreviations and that even said laughing online. I think I even remember some newspaper article from around that time that explained all the internet stuff and listed it as such.
    But when I do a search for LOL, I can’t find much on that version of the abbreviation. And the one site I saw that mentioned it said that it’s disputed whether Laughing Online was the original saying or if it was a backronym. So you’re probably right. Someone probably just wanted a “cool” different abbreviation for it.
    Wow, what a geek I am. Haha.
    That’s pretty interesting to know what *G* and BEG means. I should try to use that on some of my professors or some of the people who work in IT and see if they get it, hehe.
    I remember Compuserve. I remember around 1993 when not that many people had the internet, the few people who did seemed to have either Compuserve or Prodigy.net. Then AOL became the next big one.

  4. I feel better knowing I’m not the only one who thinks that about dense. I was starting to think maybe I was the one who was dense, haha.
    I guess that makes more sense with the whistle’s tone actually being the one that’s clean. I was thinking that the whistle itself was supposed to be clean. Haha.
    Buttonquail makes more sense. Those are some cute birds.

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