Thursday, September 19, 2013

To Sneeze or Not To Sneeze

Sweetie came in with good news.  It seems that our illustrious Guv'ner here in the Gret Stet of Looziana (at least, that's how some people here sarcastically refer to Louisiana) has kept his promise to come up with a 4% pay raise for state employees.

Considering that he hasn't had a raise in several years, and prices have gone up enormously, and this is only going to result in just enough each month to maybe cover half a week's groceries in this house with teens and a man who eats as if he were still a teenage farm boy, i was rather underwhelmed.

At first, my response was, well maybe that is something to sneeze at, playing on the original expression.  Then i got to wondering about the origin of the idiomatic expression "it's nothing to sneeze at."

My first hit on Google came up with the site of The Free Dictionary, which defined the expression and gave, as an example of use, "An extra two thousand bucks a year is nothing to sneeze at."

Talk about appropriate!  Maybe the raise is nothing to sneeze at, even if it isn't going to result in quite that much, after taxes.

Looking further down the Google results page, the next one said, "I wouldn't sneeze at that amount of money if I were you.  It's better than nothing."

Hmm, think the Good Lord is trying to tell me something?  Yes, i do, and i am grateful, because Sweetie has a job, even if it does make him crazy.

Further looking up the expression shows that the earliest noted uses were things like, "It's a sort of thing a young fellow of my expectations ought to sneeze at."  That was apparently how it was used in 1806, as a way of showing derision.  It seems unusual, since we don't generally sneeze on command, but apparently "sneeze" originally also included the meaning "snort."  Sort of a sniff of disdain, i gather, in this use.  The expression originally meant to take something lightly, or look down on it, sniffing or snorting in a rude, pretentious way.

Now, we use it the opposite way, saying things are nothing to sneeze (or snort) at.

In this day and time, a raise by any amount is surely that.

Today is:

Armed Forces Day -- Chile

Cosmetic Bridge Day -- seems internet generated, but i'm sure your dentist will approve

Day of the First Appearance of the Slovak National Council -- Slovakia

Eleven Days of Global Unity -- Day 9, Freedom (sponsored by We, the World)

Full Harvest Moon a/k/a Full Corn Moon/Indigo Moon/Wise-Crone Moon (with so much food ripe for gathering, harvesting can go on well into the night by the light of the hugely full Harvest Moon)
     Binara Full Moon Poya Day -- Sri Lanka
     Chusok -- South Korea (Harvest Moon Festival; began yesterday, through the 20th; a harvest festival and day to give homage to the ancestors and celebrate family)
     Han'gawi -- North Korea (Harvest Moon Festival; through the 21st; a harvest festival and day to give homage to the ancestors and celebrate family)
     Taw Thalin Full Moon -- Myanmar
     Zhongqiu Jie / Chong Chao -- China; Macau; Taiwan (Mid-Autumn Festival or Moon Festival, the birthday of the earth god T'u-ti Kung, celebrating the harvests, family, and eating moon cakes, matchmaking, sky lanterns, Fire Dragon Dances, and more)

Independence Day -- St. Kitts and Nevis(1983)

International Talk Like a Pirate Day --

Jubilee of the Moth Moons -- Fairy Calendar

National Butterscotch Pudding Day

Navajo Sing Festival -- Navajo Native Americans festival in thanksgiving for the harvest, begun at the full moon, and through the 26th

Osage River Mountain Man Festival and Black Powder Shoot -- Lake Ozark, MO, US (reenactment of a pre-1840s wilderness rendezvous; through Sunday)

St. Januarius of Naples' Day (a/k/a Gennaro of Naples; Patron of blood banks; Naples, Italy; against volcanic eruption) related observance
     Feast of San Gennaro -- NYC, NY, US (began on the 13th, continues to the 23rd; one of the highlights of the festival is this, the actual Saint's day)

Sukkot -- Judaism (began at sunset yesterday, through sunset on the 25th)

Women's Suffrage Day -- New Zealand

Birthdays Today:

Jimmy Fallon, 1974
Jim Abbot, 1967
Trisha Yearwood, 1964
Joan Lunden, 1950
Leslie "Twiggy" Lawson, 1949
Jeremy Irons, 1948
Randolph Mantooth, 1945
"Mama" Cass Elliot, 1941
Bill Medley, 1940
Paul Williams, 1940
David McCallum, 1933
Adam West, 1928
Duke Snider, 1926
Joseph Pasternak, 1901

Today in History:

Edward, the Black Prince, commands the forces which defeat the French army and capture France's King John II, 1356
Giles Corey is pressed to death after refusing to plead in the Salem Witch Trials, 1692
The Continental Congress passes the first budget of the US, 1778
Ephraim Morris patents the railroad brake, 1838
Bond and Lassell discover Hyperion, moon of Saturn, 1848
New Zealand becomes the first country to grant all of its women the right to vote, 1893
Funeral of assassinated President William McKinley, 1901
Mickey Mouse makes his screen debut as Steamboat Willie, at the Colony Theater in NYC, 1928
The Council of Europe is founded following a speech by Winston Churchill at the University of Zurich, 1946
Nikita Khrushchev is barred from visiting Disneyland, 1959
Betty and Barney Hill claim that they saw a mysterious craft in the sky and that it tried to abduct them, 1961
The Solomon Islands join the United Nations, 1978
Scott Fahlman posts the first documented emoticons :-) and :-( on the Carnegie Mellon University Bulletin Board System, 1982
Ötzi the Iceman is discovered by German tourists, 1991
The BP oil well at the bottom of the Gulf of Mexico was declared “effectively dead” by retired Coast Guard Adm. Thad Allen, the government’s point man on the blowout disaster, 2010


  1. interesting!!
    I love reading and researching old phrases and old meanings as well.
    at heart Im simply a bookworm.

  2. Cool. I always wanted to know the sneeze about story.

  3. All I want to say is congratulations on the raise. A 4% raise is awesome.

    Have a terrific day. ☺

  4. I'd take a four percent raise in a New York minute. Actually, I've always wanted to write that even though I have no idea what a New York minute is.

  5. I remember my first "real"job...where after 6 months I asked for a raise as I was making a huge $1.75 and it was 1970. They gave me a dime raise. Hmmm and they wondered why I left to go work for the phone company.