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2 Comments

  • Nice post, Stan; I love these ‘colourful’ (ouch) expressions. English is rammed with naval metaphors, presumably a result of the nation’s seafaring past (and present). Another nice expression deriving from ships’ use of flags is ‘nail (or pin) your colours to the mast’: to say clearly and publicly who you support or what you think about something; unlike the dastardly pirates with their false colours. They, of course, only ‘show their true colours’ at the last minute; and the negative connotation still clings to those who unwittingly reveal their real personality, especially when it is less pleasant than people have been led to believe.

  • Thanks, Liz. Nailing one’s colours to the mast is another good example, closely related to the two in the post. I don’t think I’ve ever used it, but I’ve always enjoyed the vividness of the imagery. I’m sure you’re right about the country’s past generating its boiunteous naval metaphors; it would be interesting to compare them with those of other such historically seafaring nations.