Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Going to Hell in a Handbasket

In my previous post about the meteor, I profered, "We are all going to hell in a handbasket." I have no idea how I learned this phrase.

In any case, I meant it as defined in #1 below, specifically, "... a situation headed for disaster without effort."

According to Wikipedia, there are several possible origins of the phrase:

"1."Going to Hell in a handbasket" or "Going to hell in a handcart" is an English alliterative phrase of unclear origin, which describes a situation headed for disaster without effort or in great haste.

2. "There has been some speculation that the phrases may be related, with "to Hell in a handbasket" perhaps being a mocking reference to the Guillotine which often used a lined basket to catch the severed head." (Ouch! At least it was a soft landing.)

And this third definition is difficult for me to even consider as true:

3. "Its first use recorded in the Oxford English Dictionary in the 1860s is in a historical work with the quote: "Thousands of our best men were prisoners in Camp Douglas, and if once at liberty would ‘send abolitionists to hell in a hand basket.'"

Now, who the heck determined its "first use" and how was it done? Did the researcher(s) read every word that existed in the entire world, and make a mental note about all of them? Wow, that must have been a VERY old person by the time they were done reading, not to mention a powerfully well-read one.

With all the blogs around today, I imagine their head would explode searching for "first" uses of phrases.

Ya think?

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