Wiki site for English idioms, words
June 20, 2005 7:41 AM   Subscribe

What Does That Mean explains what it means to be having a blue or to be loaded for bear. This is a newish wiki site, so could use some more content. Me? I'm off to get something from the chilly bin and then I may add some regional idioms of my own...
posted by Fozzie (31 comments total)
"Having a blue" means having a blue. At least in Canada.
posted by howling fantods at 7:49 AM on June 20, 2005

You know, I want to like it but the fact every page is (at least the ones I saw) independent and unlinked to any other makes it hard to spend time there, in the same way as you could at wikipedia by following page after page.

Linking one (insert region) slang to a list of other slangs from the same region would give me the chance to explore the content. Instead, I'll just have to get back to work ...

New content? I think it needs a better way to access the content that's already there first.

posted by devbrain at 8:06 AM on June 20, 2005

I like how in Oz that piss means alcohol (usually beer) and to be on the piss means to be consuming alcoholic drinks (normally with the view of getting drunk) and that the best type of piss is cheap piss or free piss and that to be pissed in Australia means something completely different in America and if you get too pissed in Oz you are pissed as a fart.
posted by uncanny hengeman at 8:16 AM on June 20, 2005

That site has some potential. I clicked the random page several times and saw stuff I've never heard (which was neat). But the one's I did know, I didn't find their explanations fulfilling. For instance, I saw the page for mouth-breather with a rather weak explanation. I am always curious about that one, because I have never been able to figure out why that is supposed to be an insult. It's like calling someone a eye-looker or an ear-hearer---the mouth is part of the respiratory track; what could be bad about breathing through the mouth?
posted by dios at 8:21 AM on June 20, 2005

I remember a furore a few years ago regarding the band Supergrass and the lyric 'Smoke a fag' in their paean to the joy of youth 'Alright'. It allegedly caused some consternation Stateside until the innocent phrase was revealed. And it was as innocent a comment as' tabbing a tab' or 'puffing a snout'.
posted by ClanvidHorse at 8:27 AM on June 20, 2005

The explanation is right there.

"the belief that people who are mentally disabled tend to breathe through their mouth"

We sometimes call 'em window lickers.
posted by uncanny hengeman at 8:30 AM on June 20, 2005

I'm going to go see a man about a dog.
posted by keswick at 8:36 AM on June 20, 2005

All people breathe through their mouths. Every single person living. Well, except for people with trach's. Thats why I find it to be such a silly insult.
posted by dios at 8:41 AM on June 20, 2005

Mouthbreathing: Many antipsychotic medications have side effects that include finger tremors and tongue protrusion, which can lead to an open mouth.
posted by StickyCarpet at 8:51 AM on June 20, 2005

Let's hope the wiki goodness that is running the page pushes it towards something a bit more accurate. afaik, Spastic is not the same as Epileptic.

Also, piss only refers to alcohol in the sense that all alcohol makes you piss, weak alcohol may taste like piss and stong alcohol gets you pissed. (UK only, Oz usage may differ)
posted by seanyboy at 8:56 AM on June 20, 2005

Sort of like urbandictionary, but not as good.
posted by driveler at 9:02 AM on June 20, 2005

StickyCarpet, thanks for the explanation. It makes a little sense to me now. Glad to finally know that.
posted by dios at 9:28 AM on June 20, 2005

I'm all for these user edited collections of new language, if for no other reason than they do generate a small amount of new and obscure words, but they are so mired in bullshit. That urban dictionary is half "Angry Dragon: When U cumz0rs on teh bitchus face and hargghehlelele blafgffffff, Jeff is a FAG laterzzz!". Too silly. The wikipitfall, if you will.

Can any Candians confirm that loaded for bear means full of energy? Doesn't it just mean heavily armed, either metaphorically or in fact? Some other entries are ok though.

In general I like dictionaries that are compiled by a few people with oversight and training. For instance, our own Mo Nickles' Double-Tounged Word Wrester
posted by Divine_Wino at 9:40 AM on June 20, 2005

Does "loaded for bear" really mean "energetic" in Canada?

As opposed to "carrying lots of gear" or "fully tricked out"? As in, I'm building a computer that's loaded for bear. But I haven't used it in anger yet.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 10:05 AM on June 20, 2005



GSV_What Is The Answer and Why?
posted by Divine_Wino at 10:26 AM on June 20, 2005

No, it's not just because they're breathing through their mouths, nor does it require a protruding tongue: it's that they're slack-jawed and open-mouthed. No matter who you are, standing there with your mouth hanging open makes you look stupid. The medically caused mouth breathers are so named because they can't breathe through their noses and are forced to have their mouths open at most times.

(Incidentally, I'm reminded of something etiquette schools supposedly teach: to set your mouth properly when not speak, say the word "limb," then leave your lips as they are when they finish the word.)

Thanks for the name-check Divine Wino. My entry for mouth breather.
posted by Mo Nickels at 10:53 AM on June 20, 2005

I thought "loaded for bear" meant "hung like a pony", except when it means "very very drunk". Or is the latter "loaded with beer"?

What I can't figure out is what an Englisher means when he says "taking the piss", as in "So yer takin' the piss, are ya?", when nobody's literally pissing, I mean. The one time I heard it in person I asked him "What does that mean?"; he answered "You fuckin' know what it means!", and trying to get across that no, I really did not know what it meant -- which was why I was trying to get him to tell me -- just made the drunken fool belligerent, so I gave up and stomped off. Will somebody here translate please, just in case I ever meet another sodden Brit?
posted by davy at 11:29 AM on June 20, 2005

I think it means 'making fun of me/something'. Or is that taking the mickey?
posted by Fozzie at 11:40 AM on June 20, 2005

I've always thought "loaded for bear" meant something along the lines of gung-ho + prepared. My partner interprets it as something along the lines of ready and willing to give'er shit. When I read Rou's explanation, both he and I agreed that seems like a common usage.

davy: taking the piss is making fun of someone; "pulling your leg" He probably thought you were taking the piss claiming not to know what taking the piss meant ;)
posted by carmen at 11:40 AM on June 20, 2005

All people breathe through their mouths. Every single person living. Well, except for people with trach's. Thats why I find it to be such a silly insult.

no, lots of people prefer to breathe through their noses.
All people are capable of breathing through their mouths but it is widely regarded as more polite or "civilized" to breathe through the nose and use the mouth for eating and speaking (chewing with yr mouth open, also considered impolite, would be a side effect of normally breathing thru yr mouth, ie, if you have clogged sinuses or are otherwise nasally incapacitated :))
posted by mdn at 11:48 AM on June 20, 2005

My reading of "having a blue" would be that it comes from arguing until you are "blue in the face" which in turn comes from arguing so much that you dont stop for breath, hence you turn blue.

Just a guess mind.
posted by longbaugh at 11:53 AM on June 20, 2005

next time I should read the comment above mine.

xGCU Sweet and Full of Grace
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 11:56 AM on June 20, 2005

ClanvidHorse: Fag may be innocent slang in the UK, but I always assumed the UK and US meanings were related by fire: the root word for both, fagot, means 'a bundle of sticks', therefore, both homosexuals and cigarettes are best burned?
I could be way off base here. Perhaps the US usage came from the UK meaning "an English public-school boy who acts as servant to an older schoolmate"?
Merriam-Webster Online says "entymology unknown". No matter, it's a nasty word which insults the speaker and the target. It's much more effective to insult people's intellect or fashion sense.
posted by Lord Kinbote at 1:19 PM on June 20, 2005

this site has potential, but it needs a lot more input. it'd be great if everyone on mefi did their part.

i agree with devbrain. there needs to be more internal links and perhaps a browsing option. there should also be a better way to sort by region, because slang does differ in meaning from place to place.

could be a lot of fun once it grows tho.
posted by es_de_bah at 1:41 PM on June 20, 2005

heh, and the random page button should probably exclude non-entry pages.
posted by es_de_bah at 1:45 PM on June 20, 2005

For clarification, I updated and expanded the page for "mouth breather."
I also wrote one for "knock your self out" which I've always found to be a really interesting expression.
posted by Jon-o at 4:17 PM on June 20, 2005

IANAB, but... Giving someone a "piss-take" essentially means calling them out on their shit. If you were "taking the piss," someone was either giving you grief or saying you were full of bullshit.

I've also heard giving someone a piss-take used in lieu of "knocking them down a peg."

Etymologically speaking, my best guess would be that if someone is full of piss and vinegar, taking the piss would just leave vinegar.
posted by FYKshun at 5:08 PM on June 20, 2005

FYKshun. No, not so much and no.

Davy:taking the piss is a euphemism for taking the mickey (mickey bliss = piss in the ol' rhyming slang), which in turn means merely to mock. It can be offensive or inoffensive depending on the intentions of the mocker and the sobriety of the mocked. When a drunken Brit asks you angrily, 'Are you taking the piss' he's likely taking offense at something and wishes to give you a right drubbing. Note that, depending on the speaker, 'are you taking the piss' can both mean 'I found that last remark about my mother's geneaology most offensive and wish to engage you in fisticuffs', or 'you're looking at me in a funny way and I wish to engage you in fisticuffs', or even 'I have no idea what you just said, but fisticuffs may just be warranted if you don't placate me immediately with more warm beer'.

So carmen is right - he probably thought you were taking the piss when you claimed you didn't know what he was talking about - if you did know and were ironically saying you didn't, you would be guilty of taking the piss.

A 'piss-take', on the other hand, is the mockery itself, as in 'Didn't Fry and Laurie do an excellent piss-take on the house of lords last night on bbc2'. Read as 'satire' or 'parody' depending on whether the piss-take is satirical or parodical. Thus, while it can 'knock someone down a peg' that's rarely its most common useage.
posted by Sparx at 7:16 PM on June 20, 2005

You're taking the piss.
posted by seanyboy at 6:27 AM on June 21, 2005

Can any Candians confirm that loaded for bear means full of energy?

Energy? No. You wouldn't say, about to go shopping at the mall, "I'm loaded for bear". It implies heavier-than-normal equipment. But then, cutesy "sitcom" style comedy these days seems to be guys using phrases not only out of context but losing all meaning in an attempt to be clever, and that, unfortunately, gets parroted a lot.
posted by dreamsign at 6:43 AM on June 21, 2005

I always thought 'having a blue' = There was a significant Irish element in early Australia and they had a reputation for fighting, a lot of Irish have red hair, redheads are called 'blue' or 'bluey'. Or maybe it was the other way round and redheads got called 'blue' because they fight.
You can also be 'true blue' = a loyal friend, make a 'blue' = a mistake, or carry your 'bluey' = swag.
posted by tellurian at 1:22 AM on June 22, 2005

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