February 20th, 2005

Dead Dog Cat

(no subject)

A few items today:

First, got ahold of several comics, and read them. They include Lucifer #59, which was interesting, Ocean #4 of 6, which was better, 303 #3, which was better yet, and Angel Stomp Future, which sucked.

Dungeonmaster was very good last night, with the whole cast really putting a first-class effort into it. Made me smile, it did.

In response to a request by beccause, I looked up the origins of the phrase "more than you can shake a stick at" via www.askjeeves.com, as my home library (A Dictionary of Slang and Unconventional English) didn't have the answer. Here's a couple of results that I found:

More than you can shake a stick at

Definition from Steve Sabram: 1) a military phrase of guerrilla warfare where you do not have much in weapons and you fight with what you get from the land (i.e. sticks). If you have so many people to fight or animals to hunt, you cannot count let alone chase them all. 2) Another I heard of is it is an old shepherding term where you have so many animals to herd, you cannot shake you stick at every individual animal to herd them.

[name removed at owner's request for reasons best understood by owner; I'm sorry if this post bothered you]: I remember reading in a book that it came from the revolutionary war. There was some scene where Washington was waving a wooden ceremonial sword over the British forces that he had just been victorious over.


"more than you can shake a stick at"(Phrase Origins)

This 19th-century Americanism now means "an abundance"; but its
original meaning is unclear. Suggestions have included "more than
one can count" (OED, AHD3), "more than one can threaten" (Charles
Earle Funk), and "more than one can believe" (Dictionary of American
English). No one of these seems easy to reconcile with all the
following citations: "We have in Lancaster as many taverns as you
can shake a stick at." (1818) "This was a temperance house, and
there was nothing to treat a friend to that was worth shaking a
stick at." (David Crockett, _Tour to the North and Down East_,
1835) "Our queen snake was [...] retiring, attended by more of her
subjects than we even dared to shake a stick at." (1843) "I have
never sot eyes on anything that could shake a stick at that."
(= "set eyes on anything that could compare with that", 1843)
"[...] Uncle Sam [...] has more acres than you can throw a stick
at." (1851) "She got onto the whappiest, biggest, rustiest yaller
moccasin that ever you shuck er stick at." (1851)

A connection with the British expression "hold (the) sticks
with", meaning "compete on equal terms with" and attested since
1817, is not impossible.

OED staff told me: "The US usages in DAE do appear to have a
different sense to that given in OED. [...] All the modern examples
I've found on our databases conform to OED's definition so I think
this is still the most common usage."

Merriam-Webster staff opined that the "count" interpretation
"works as well for 'as many as you can shake a stick at' [...] if
you take it to mean that there is no limit to how many of the
objects in question one could shake one's stick at. [...] We would
consider 'A can't shake a stick at B' a different expression
entirely, with a meaning similar to 'A can't hold a candle to
B' [...]."

In their 1897 work _A Dictionary of Slang, Jargon & Cant_,
Albert Barrere and Charles Leland suggested that Dutch immigrants
originated the expression using the Dutch word _schok_ = "to shake
or hit."

Personally, I like the shepherd thing best, but that's just me. Hope that helps.