It’s all fun and games until someone loses an eye. 
Posted: 27 August 2007 09:56 PM   [ Ignore ]
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I’m highly skeptical of the claim (found on the Internet!) that the phrase “It’s all fun and games until someone loses an eye” comes from ancient Rome:

The expression, It’s all fun and games until someone loses an eye is from ancient Rome. The only rule during wrestling matches was, “No eye gouging.” Everything else was allowed, leaqing the only way to be disqualified as pokeing someone’s eye out.

But does anyone know where it does come from? The best guess I’ve seen is “some mid-century comedian,” which sounds plausible but vague.
[ Edited: 28 August 2007 08:05 AM by Scarequotes ]
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Posted: 28 August 2007 01:21 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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That wrestling doesn’t even sound Roman to me; surely those are the rules of the classical Greek pankration.  Though of course the imperial Romans practised Greek physical culture too.

But anyway this saying makes no sense at all in relation to ancient wrestling, which wasn’t remotely “fun and games”; the rules might not allow eye gouging but your opponent could quite legitimately smash your nose, throttle you or break your neck.

Is there a word for the urge that some people feel to invent and believe far-fetched “explanations” for sayings that need no explanation in the first place, and indeed frequently make less sense than the obvious meaning does? Surely anyone whose parent, granny or teacher used this saying in relation to their everyday childhood scuffles knew exactly what it meant?

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Posted: 28 August 2007 07:23 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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Surely making up facts is as old as humanity and the etymological version is just a variation on that theme.

Fantamology?

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Posted: 28 August 2007 07:46 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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Of course making explanations up when something calls for them is natural (e.g. when looking at a street name like “Totterdown"); it just seems weird to me to make them up for phrases that are perfectly clear in themselves, especially when the fabricated explanation actually makes less sense rather than more!

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Posted: 28 August 2007 07:47 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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Making explanations up when something calls for them is natural (e.g. when looking at a street name like “Totterdown"); it just seems weird to me to make them up for phrases that are perfectly clear in themselves, especially when the fabricated explanation actually makes less sense rather than more!

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Posted: 28 August 2007 08:03 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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Yeah, the purported explanation sounds like one of Snopes’ “Lost Legends.”

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Posted: 28 August 2007 08:41 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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The site in question is filled with false stories, including the “ring around the rosie,” equestrian statues, and “rule of thumb.” Those are just the ones that jumped out after viewing the site for 30 seconds. (There are others that jump out, but I’d want to be sure of my facts before denouncing them.)

I’d put no stock whatsoever in anything that appears on this site. The editor of the site states:

These are all things I have learned accidentally during research, from the History Channel and/or PBS. They may, therefore, be considered coming from reasonably accurate sources, but are not guaranteed to be 100% accurate. They are provided for entertainment and the useless trivia portion of your brain.

He’s using the History Channel as as an authoritative source. Nothing more need be said.

(The History Channel is a USAan cable channel that features documentaries on historical subjects. The quality and accuracy of the programming is very uneven--most of the programs are independently produced and there is no evident fact checking or peer review by the broadcaster. One should not take anything broadcast on this channel as true without independent verification.)

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Posted: 28 August 2007 08:41 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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Totterdown, eh? It seemed like a plausible suggestion at the time and I was quite happy for the Big Guns here to put me right ;)

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Posted: 28 August 2007 09:52 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
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You’ll have your eye out with that. Perennial admonition of British mothers to their children.

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Posted: 28 August 2007 10:09 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
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"One of those could take your eye out at a hundred yards” said by sexist men of women with large chests. Biological imperatives still endure but not round my house.

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Posted: 28 August 2007 10:30 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]
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aldiboronti - 28 August 2007 09:52 AM

You’ll have your eye out with that. Perennial admonition of British mothers to their children.

Also American mothers, but usually with “put” rather than “have”.  And in the holiday classic A Christmas Story, the response of every adult (parent, teacher, even the department-store Santa) to whom Ralphie, the child protagonist, reveals his desire for an “Official Red Ryder Carbine-Action Two-Hundred-Shot Range Model Air Rifle with a compass in the stock, and this thing which tells time” is “You’ll shoot your eye out.”

Ancient Rome?! As I warn my students, “any idiot can have a website, and many do.”

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