Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Brazen Etymology

Today, I learned something new about the phrase bold-faced lie. What I learned was that it's not a bold-faced lie, but a bald-faced lie. Being the stubborn individual that I am, especially when it comes to my command of the English language and my lexical arsenal, I did some digging into the origins of that phrase.

I found out that bold-faced lie is actually an acceptable modern variant. In this day and age, bold-face can refer to the boldness of type. Back then, this really had no meaning. The more surprising thing that I found out, however, was that bald-faced lie wasn't the original phrase. In fact, the earliest version of this was actually bare-faced lie. As you can imagine, this referred to being clean-shaven with nothing to hide. It follows that bald-faced grew from bare-faced. And, the rest is history.

So, we have a happy ending. I'm happy to know that I haven't been using a non-existent phrase. And, I'm just as happy to have learned of the phrase's evolution.


Anonymous said...

I agree with Spud's previous comment - add some life to your blog! This was better - just wanted to say I'm happy I didn't read solely about another market update. And, I did know about bald-faced lie but did not know about bare-faced.

Anonymous said...

Yeah I think I had this discussion with someone recently. I was pretty sure it was bald.

Anonymous said...

Etymology is pretty interesting. Just recently I found out about the origins of the term most commonly used for sexual intercourse. Back in ancient England, when a couple wanted to have sex especially for reproductive purposes, they had to get consent from the King. It was referred to as Fornicate Under the Consent of the King. Hence, the four letter word which is now used an expletive in addition to the actual act.

Anonymous said...

'Fornicate' didn't come into use as an English word until 1552, but 'fuck' dates from 1503. Now, 'fornicate' was derived from an earlier latin word, which I assume predates 'fuck,' so it's possible, but I'd say that this entymology is somewhat unlikely.

Anonymous said...

Under duress, I'll agree with Duke on this one.

Anonymous said...

Yeah man, nobody knows more about whatever entymologists (not entomologists, or etymologists, mind you) study than me.

Al Bundy: Nobody knows more about RGNE than Dr. RGNE!


Nylund said...


The word has probable cognates in other Germanic languages, such as German ficken (to fuck); Dutch fokken (to strike, to beget); dialectal Norwegian fukka (to copulate), and dialectal Swedish fokka (to strike, to copulate) and fock (penis).

The entry goes on and on, and is worth the read.

Any acronyms are probably false backronyms. These are common, usually false, but also kinda funny.