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Contact me at Mom25dogs@gmail.com

Saturday, April 14, 2012

"Lock, Stock And Barrel" and "A Flash In The Pan"

"He sold it lock, stock and barrel". This phrase comes from a musket which contained a lock, or flintlock, which is the firing mechanism; stock, the wooden handle of the musket; and barrel, the cylindrical tube that the bullet goes through. I.e. He sold everything, all the pieces.

Another phrase that has something to do with a musket is "A flash in the pan". It means something or someone who has a brief flash of fire but had no real substance. Volatile but no bullet. It didn't accomplish it attempted. Someone who enjoys transient success but then fails. A success which begins suddenly but ends quickly. For instance, "John Smith came into town but he was a flash in the pan." "That play was a flash in the pan."

Flintlock muskets used to have small pans to hold charges of gunpowder. An attempt to fire the musket in which the gunpowder flared up without a bullet being fired was a 'flash in the pan'.

Some people think that "a flash in the pan" comes from American gold prospectors looking for the gleam of gold in their prospecting pans. But the saying is much older than that and goes back to the old muskets.

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