Q: Where did the phrase “take a gander” originate?
A: The website worldwidewords.org delved into this one and found an 1887 British work titled “Folk-Speech of South Cheshire”.
It defines the word “gonder” as “to stretch the neck like a gander, to stand at gaze,” the site states.
According to the site, the next known example came from the May 9, 1903, United States newspaper, the Cincinnati Enquirer.
An article in that issue defines “gander” as “to stretch or rubber your neck.”
The article claims the saying originated from a type of slang called “thieves’ slang.”
Worldwidewords.org has a passage explaining the term while also explaining the origin of the notion of “goosing” somebody.
Here it is: “Think of a gaggle of farmyard geese, wandering about in their typically aimless and stupid way, poking their noses in everywhere and twisting their necks to stare at anything that might be interesting. Geese are the archetypal rubberneckers. No doubt to gander became the term because to goose had already been borrowed; this was taken from the way that the birds were known to put their beaks embarrassingly — and sometimes painfully — into one’s more private places.”
I believe I’ll just leave it at that.
Q: Why is a gratuity called a “tip”?
A: The QPB encyclopedia of Word and Phrase Origins states that a persistent explanation is that “tip” actually was created because it stood for “to insure promptness.”
The story goes that the initials T.I.P. were inscribed on boxes placed in English coffeehouses in the 1700s. However, the book states many scholars cast doubts on the notion of the word coming from there.
Instead, the book’s authors believe the word more likely originated in the 1500s from the slang usage of the term “to tip,” which meant “to hand over.”
It’s possible that originated from the notion of “tipping” something meaning touching something lightly, the book states.
It also states that could be the reason for the word tip to mean relaying “secret information” to someone.
Staff Writer Bernie Delinski writes Just Ask, which runs Wednesdays in the TimesDaily. If you’ve got a question, email it to bernie.delinski@TimesDaily.com or call him at 256-740-5739.