2017年5月30日 星期二

butterfingers, meteorite, dagger, cloak and dagger, Fine words butter no parsnips

"Why all the cloak-and-dagger secrecy?" Clapper told Judy Woodruff. "If the intent was simply to reach out to establish — to make acquaintance, one wonders if there is something worse than that or more nefarious than that."

Tutankhamun had a space dagger
Scientists used x-ray scans to analyse the blade of Tutankhamun's dagger

The iron blade has puzzled researchers in the decades since its discovery; ironwork was rare in ancient Egypt, and the dagger’s metal had not rusted.

Researched analyzed metal composition of a dagger within the wrapping of…
Comment: The re-emergence of the five men associated with Causeway Bay's banned bookstore has proved just as disturbing as their disappearance. Yet, much to Hong Kong’s loss, the mainland authorities seem to have achieved all their cloak-and-dagger aims, writes Kent Ewing.

Why iPhone Repair Costs Have Soared

Apple earns almost as much from its customers’ butterfingers as it does through corporate tax loopholes. Quentin Fottrell takes a look. Photo: AP.

Google butterfingers slip jazz hands bug into Gmail


Pronunciation: /ˈdaɡə/ 


Image of dagger
1A short knife with a pointed and edged blade, used as a weapon:he drew his dagger and stabbed the leader
1.1Printing another term for obelus.
2moth with a dark dagger-shaped marking on the forewing.
  • Genus Acronicta, family Noctuidae: several species.

Cloak and dagger - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

"Cloak and dagger" is an English term sometimes used to refer to situations involving intrigue, secrecy, espionage, or mystery. The phrase has two possible ...

By Kelly Fiveash • Get more from this author An extremely annoying bug that plays an old ragtime tune has commandeered Google's Gmail, after the company ...


pl.n. (used with a sing. verb)
A person who tends to drop things.

butterfingered but'ter·fin'gered adj.

Definition of butterfingers
noun (plural same)

  • a clumsy person, especially one who fails to hold a catch.




A name playfully applied to someone who fails to catch a ball or lets something slip from their fingers.


Charles Dickens - butterfingersIn the week of the bicentenary of Charles Dickens' birth (7th February 1812), I thought it would be nice to include a phrase coined by him. It ought not to be too difficult to find one, after all, Dickens ranks sixth on the 'number of English words coined by an individual author' list. Passing over contenders like 'slow-coach' and 'cloak and dagger' I alighted on 'butterfingers', which several authorities say was invented by Dickens. Not quite a phrase but, as it was coined as the hyphenated 'butter-fingers', it's close enough. Dickens used the term in The Pickwick Papers (more properly calledThe Posthumous Papers of the Pickwick Club), 1836:
At every bad attempt at a catch, and every failure to stop the ball, he launched his personal displeasure at the head of the devoted individual in such denunciations as 'Ah, ah! - stupid' - 'Now, butter-fingers' - 'Muff' - 'Humbug' - and so forth.
It seemed as though that was all there was to say about the word/phrase but, as I usually like to add a little more, I delved further. The British Library's excellent new database of 19th century newspapers turned up a reference to 'butter-fingers' in the Yorkshire newspaperThe Leeds Intelligencer dated May 1823. Pre-Pickwick, clearly. Looking closer, it appeared that the writer was quoting from what he called 'a scarce book' - The English Housewife. Delving again, I found that the book, written by the English writer Gervase Markham in 1615, scarce as it may have been in 1823, is still available today. Markham's recipe for a good housewife was:
'First, she must be cleanly in body and garments; she must have a quick eye, a curious nose, a perfect taste, and ready ear; she must not be butter-fingered, sweet-toothed, nor faint-hearted - for the first will let everything fall; the second will consume what it should increase; and the last will lose time with too much niceness.
Markham's views aren't quite what would be accepted now, any more than his remedy for the plague - 'smell a nosegay made of the tasselled end of a ship rope', but he does at least make it clear that 'butterfingers' was in use in 1615 with the same meaning we have for it today, that is, someone likely to drop things - as if their hands were smeared with butter, like a cook's.
Many of the later examples of 'butterfingers' in print relate to the game of cricket, which was and still is the principal ball-catching game in England. The term is often used as an amiable taunt when someone fails to make an easy catch. As the word spread to other countries, notably America, it was taken into the language of the local catching game, i.e. baseball, and 'no-hoper' teams were unkindly given that name. The Salt Lake Tribune reported on such a team in May 1899:
'The Butterfingers will cross bats with the Salt Lake Juniors at Calder's Park Tuesday'.
As for Dickens, he may have missed out on 'butterfingers' but he has many other words and phrases to lay claim to, and he did write some exceedingly good books.

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界: 植物界 Plantae
門: 被子植物門 Magnoliophyta
綱: 雙子葉植物綱 Magnoliopsida
目: 傘形目 Apiales
科: 傘形科 Apiaceae
屬: 歐防風屬 Pastinaca
種: 歐防風 P. sativa
Pastinaca sativa

Fine words butter no parsnips


Nothing is achieved by empty words or flattery.


Fine words butter no parsnipsThis proverbial saying is English and dates from the 17th century. It expresses the notion that fine words count for nothing and that action means more than flattery or promises. You aren't very likely to come across 'fine words butter no parsnips' as 20th century street slang - you are more liable to hear it in a period costume drama.
Potatoes were imported into Britain from America by John Hawkins in the mid 16th century and became a staple in what established itself as the national dish - meat and two veg. Before that, various root vegetables were eaten instead, often mashed and, as anyone who has eaten mashed swedes, turnips or parsnips can testify, they cry out to be 'buttered-up' - another term for flattery. Indeed, the English were known for their habit of layering on butter to all manner of foods, much to the disgust of the French who used it as evidence of the English lack of expertise regarding cuisine and to the Japanese, who referred to Europeans in general and the English in particular as 'butter-stinkers'. This butter habit is evidenced in the various forms of the expression that are found in print in the 1600s - 'fine/fair/soft words butter no parsnips/cabbage/fish/connie[rabbit]'. A typical example is this verse from John Taylor's Epigrammes, 1651:
Words are but wind that do from men proceed;
None but Chamelions on bare Air can feed;
Great men large hopeful promises may utter;
But words did never Fish or Parsnips butter..
The earliest version that I know of in print is in John Clarke's Latin/English textbookParoemiologia, 1639:
Faire words butter noe parsnips, verba non alunt familiam. [words, no family support]
That's all, no more fine words from me this week.
See also: the List of Proverbs.