A friend of mine called me the other night asking me to look something up on the Internet for him. He doesn't have a computer, primarily because he's too cheap to buy one and has friends, like me, to pester whenever he needs a favor. Since he helped me start my car back in 1971 he thinks I owe him a life of servitude.
Basically, someone called him a "four flusher" and he didn't know what it meant. So I looked it up for him. It turns out that a four flusher is a person who makes a false claim (one who bluffs). The term was derived from poker where four cards of the same suit are worthless whereas five cards of the same suit is a flush, which will beat three of a kind and a straight. Someone betting with only four cards of the same suit would be bluffing.
The very next evening I received a phone call from a friend who told me the phrase "lickety split" came up in a recent conversation and he was wondering how such a phrase came into existence. This person is not cheap, unlike most of my friends, and owns a computer. But he's a very busy guy and probably didn't want to waste his time on trivial matters so he contacted me to waste my time on trivial matters for him.
In doing so, he also suggested that I should look up the origin of some common expressions, such as "smart as a whip," "a New York minute," "cute as a bug in a rug" and so forth. Instead, I told him his New York minute was up and I had more important things to do, such as take the bull by the horns, reinvent the wheel and catch some Zs.
In my dictionary, "lickety split" means "at great speed."
According to extensive Internet research, "lickety split" was a term used by the Puritans in the 1600s but no one apparently has any insight on how it started.
The term became prominent in the 1830s and 1840s. The earliest known appearance in print was in 1843. Other terms such as "lickety click," lickety cut," "lickety brindle," "lickety smash" and "lickety switch" were also in use at the time meaning the same thing.
Many others terms from the same era also have similar meanings, including "quick as greased lightning," "in a jiffy," "like a house afire," "hell bent for leather" and "immediately if not sooner."
Apparently, everyone was in a hurry back then.
During my Internet explorations, I also learned that "Lickety Split" is:
* A lip gloss that is "fruity, sweet and sassy, and it gives your lips a little kiss of color"
* An alchemy yarn produced and marketed by The Yarn Company of New York City
* An educational game for children, ages 6 and up, made by Gamewright
* A 27' racing sailboat manufactured by Morgan Boat Builders
* A raft trip on the Kern River in California offered by Sierra South Sports
* A night club in Philadelphia
* A rock-and-roll band
* A recipe for lasagna published in BETTER HOMES AND GARDEN
* A company in San Diego that makes balloons
* A card game involving 2 to 4 players fast grabbing from a deck of 60 cards
Jeepers creepers, I now know more about "lickety split" than I ever wanted to know.
Personally I don't like doing things at great speed -- I prefer to "take a slow boat to China."
Time to end this nonsense -- 23 skidoo.
Quote for the Day -- "Some guy hit my fender, and I told him, 'be fruitful and multiply' -- but not in those words." Woody Allen
Bret Burquest is the author of 7 books, including THE REALITY OF THE ILLUSION OF REALITY and ORB OF WOUNDED SOULS (available on Amazon). He lives in the Ozark Mountains with a dog named Buddy Lee and where silence is golden.