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Friday, April 13, 2018

Put a sock in it : Where did that come from ?




The noun "sock" comes from the Latin word "soccus," which means "light shoe or slipper," and when "sock" first entered Old English around A.D. 725, it meant a slipper or lightweight shoe. The kind you might wear only indoors and recent finds from Roman Britain, would suggest the Romans started the sartorial splendour of wearing socks with their sandals.



By the early 14th century, "sock" had arrived at its modern meaning of "a short stocking covering the ankle and usually part of the calf." Such stockings were (and are) usually worn over the foot and under a heavier pair of shoes.



By about 1840 the word sock had become the accepted term describing hose for men and boys. It took until 1880 before it was accepted as clothing for young girls.



At first fashion conscious men wore silk socks with suspenders attached to below the knee. Working men wore woolen socks tied up with elastic garters. The phrase 'pull up your socks' is likely to have its origins about this time.



Improved kitting techniques and the incorporation of elasticised fibres later in the twentieth century meant socks could stay up on their own with no need for suspender or garter. After World War II and clothing rationing, cotton and wool mixtures provided standard fare for most male fashions.



By the end of the twentieth century, clever manipulation of polymer structures not only offered more robust coverings for the feet but also included anti-microbial action, which was used to combat unwanted smells and fungus.



In the late seventeenth century, the phrase “to give someone sock” meant to give someone a thrashing. The phrase crossed the Atlantic and by 1866, term 'sock' was low slang meaning to hit or punch, to give somebody a heavy blow, to assault or beat someone as in “Having heard enough John Wayne socked the cowboy on the jaw”.



The common phrase "knock your socks off." First appeared in the mid-19th century meaning "to beat or vanquish someone thoroughly," at first used literally to mean to win in a knock-down fistfight so savage that the loser might expect not to only lose his shoes in the fracas but his socks as well. The number of brawlers who actually lost their socks was probably pretty small, but a threat "to knock your socks off" was one of a number of such hyperbolic pugilistic phrases popular at the time, including "knock your lights out" and "knock you into next week." Among the less violent the term came to represent in a more general sense, "to win decisively,” This was applied to all manner of competition.



The term sockdolog was used in boxing vernacular to mean a knockdown blow. Its main claim to fame is that it was virtually the last word President Lincoln ever heard. In Tom Taylor’s play Our American Cousin, there occurs the line “Well, I guess I know enough to turn you inside out, you sockdologising old man-trap”, and as the audience laughed, John Wilkes Booth fired the fatal shot.



“Sock it to me,” is a phrase ever associated with Judy Carne’s on the 60s, US comedy series Rowan and Martin’s Laugh in. Then the catchphrase was a thinly disguised invitation for a sexual encounter (well it was the sixties), but later came to mean ‘bring it on.” The term was also common vernacular in 60s soul music.



To have one's socks 'blown off' meant "to be amazed, delighted, very impressed," as in "the new song by Adele , will blow your socks off." Off course if you are not a fan then you may say, “Put a sock in it.” As this means to be quiet and originates from the time of early gramophones which had no volume controls. To play them more quietly you had to put a sock into the trumpet (speaker).

Reviewed 23/02/2016

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