Week 381 (XLVIII) : Idiom Savant

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Copyright The Washington Post Company Dec 24, 2000

To make hay while the sun shines--To seize the opportunity; from the production of hay, or mown grass dried to fodder, by exposing it to the sun when available.

Mad as a hatter--Crazy; from the use of mercury in the making of felt hats. Hatters were often afflicted with a violent twitching as a result of its effects.

Winning hands down--Effortlessly; from the way a jockey, sure of victory, loosens his grip on the reins.

This week's contest: The above derivations of common idioms were given by the World Almanac. We are guessing there are plenty of other idioms where the derivation is not known, or is insufficiently interesting. Take any well-known idiom, or expression, and invent an interesting derivation for it, as in the clam example atop. First- prize winner receives a hand-painted antique ceramic plate celebrating the many splendors of Scenic South Dakota, which appear to include Mount Rushmore, something called the "Corn Palace" and a giant goony bird. This is worth $20.

First runner-up wins the tacky but estimable Style Invitational Loser Pen. Other runners-up win the coveted Style Invitational Loser T-shirt. The Uncle's Pick wins the nauseatingly ugly "The Uncle Loves Me" T-shirt. Send your entries via fax to 202-334-4312, or by e-mail to, or by U.S. mail to The Style Invitational, Week XLVIII, c/o The Washington Post, 1150 15th St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20071. Deadline is Tuesday, Jan. 2. All entries must include the week number of the contest and your name, postal address and a daytime or evening telephone number. E-mail entries must include the week number in the subject field. Contests will be judged on the basis of humor and originality. All entries become the property of The Washington Post. Editors reserve the right to edit entries for taste or content. Results will be published in four weeks. No purchase required for entry. Employees of The Washington Post, and their immediate relatives, are not eligible for prizes.

REPORT FROM WEEK XLIV, in which we challenged you to come up with headlines we are likely to see in The Washington Post in the year 2050.

Fourth Runner-Up:

Florida to Be

Readmitted to Union

(Chris Shreves, Oak Hill)

Third Runner-Up:

Plague of Spotted Owls

Threatens Crops, Livestock

(Stephen Dudzik, Silver Spring)

Second Runner-Up:

Texas Executes Last

Remaining Citizen

(Malcolm Fleschner, Arlington)

First Runner-Up:

Great and Benevolent Galactic Ruler

Reveals Anal Probes Were 'Just for Fun'

(Chuck Smith, Woodbridge)

And the winner of the Hershey's Kiss{reg} Hat:

Mother Lewinsky Dies

Revered Hero of Bangkok Slums Overcame Lurid Past

(Tom Witte, Gaithersburg)

Honorable Mentions

Wealthy Widow Anna Nicole Smith, 83, Weds Handsome Young Actor

"This is true love," he beams.

(Tom Witte, Gaithersburg; Judith E.

Cottrill, Bronx, N.Y.; James and Erika Pierce, Charlottesville)

Mall Construction Begins on

Grenada Memorial

(John McCambridge, Rockville)

The Cloning Revolution--

A Retrospective by Mark Twain

(John Fiorini, Reston)

Cody, Cassidy Gifford

Elude Authorities

Drug-Crazed Crime Spree Continues

(Tom Witte, Gaithersburg)

President 'Bonecrusher' Jones to Face Chief Justice 'Wahoo'

Ortega in Cage Match

(Tom Witte, Gaithersburg)

Baltimore Rams Defeat

St. Louis Ravens

(Tom Witte, Gaithersburg)

Tofu Hoax Uncovered;

Alleged Foodstuff Taken off Shelves

(Colette Zanin, Greenbelt)

Adam Sandler Wins

Irving R. Thalberg Award

(Michael Levy, Silver Spring)

Pope Phil II Settles

Custody Battle with Ex-Wife

(Michael Levy, Silver Spring)

Upcoming NFL Draft

Likely to Focus on Mutants

(Russell Beland, Springfield)

Younger Generation's Music

Provokes Outrage of Elders

(Ervin Stembol, Alexandria)

Japan's Overcrowding Increases

Residents Urged to Stand On Each Other's Heads

(Martin Bredeck, Hybla Valley)

Baseball Expansion Again

Bypasses Washington

Jackson Hole and

Grand Forks to Get Franchises

(Paul Kondis, Alexandria; Lou Goddard, Reston; Henry E. Kilpatrick Jr.,


Tell Me About It

Advice for the Under-80 Crowd

(David Genser, Arlington; Russ Beland,


D.C. Zoo to Receive Rare Cow

(Malcolm Fleschner, Arlington)

Authentic Year 2000 Chad Sells for

$9.6 Million at Sotheby's

(Jennifer Hart, Arlington)

Nursing Home Case: Clinton Denies

Candy Striper's Allegation

(William Barratt, Falls Church;

Meg Sullivan, Potomac)

Court Clears AOLTimeWarnerGEDisneyCiscoFordRJRNabiscoExxonMobil of Monopoly Charges

(Joseph Romm, Washington)

Orioles Monica

Two-Run Lead in Ninth

(Bob Sorensen, Herndon)

50-Year Study: Diet and Exercise

Key to Weight Loss

(Chris Shreves, Oak Hill)

Baby Conceived Naturally

Scientists Stumped

(Jean Sorensen, Herndon)

It Wasn't the Cigarettes,

It Was the Ashtrays

(Jean Sorensen, Herndon)

Mayor of Reagan, D.C., Sworn In

(Jonathan Paul, Garrett Park)

New Presses to Allow Smaller Type, Saving Newsprint,

Increasing Profits --Change Slated for Next Month

(Jonathan Paul, Garrett Park)

Cal Ripken Jr. Reduced

To DH Role

(Chuck Smith, Woodbridge)

Chuck Smith, Woodbridge,

Wounded by Jealous Husband

(Chuck Smith, Woodbridge)

Style Invitational Unloads Washington Post

Media Giant Says Stagnant Newspaper Arm

Was Drain on Profits

(Steve Fahey, Kensington)

The Uncle's Pick:

The Nephew's Pick: The Nephew Explains: Only some lame adult would try to explain a joke. (Joseph Romm, Washington)

The Uncle Explains: Kids say the darnedest things.

Next Week: Bill Us Now


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