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DID YOU KNOW THIS?

It was necessary to keep a good supply of cannon balls near the cannon on old war ships. But how to prevent them from rolling about the deck was the problem. The storage method devised was to stack them as a square based pyramid, with one ball on top, resting on four, resting on nine, which rested on sixteen.

Thus, a supply of 30 cannon balls could be stacked in a small area right next to the cannon. There was only one problem -- how to prevent the bottom layer from sliding/rolling from under the others.

The solution was a metal plate with 16 round indentations, called, for reasons unknown, a Monkey. But if this plate were made of iron, the iron balls would quickly rust to it. The solution to the rusting problem was to make them of brass - hence, Brass Monkeys.

Few landlubbers realise that brass contracts much more and much faster than iron when chilled.

Consequently, when the temperature dropped too far, the brass indentations would shrink so much that the iron cannon balls would come right off the monkey.

Thus, it was quite literally, cold enough to freeze the balls off a brass monkey. And all this time, folks thought that was just a vulgar expression?
You must send this fabulous bit of historical knowledge to at least a few intellectual friends.
 

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Wow that was really interesting. I never thought about how hard it would be to keep all them cannon balls from rolling around. Interesting fact.
 

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LMAO!!!!! That's awesome.
 

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so when its colder than a witch's *** in a brass brassiere is that something related to some kind of ammo containment also?...or just vulgar? ...........(fingers crossed for just vulgar)
 

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I remember hearing that from my grandpa... *grin* I love that phrase.

The navy was also where the phrase "square meals" came from - There was a pair of 2X4s nailed to the table (basically), and they used square plates between them so the plates wouldn't slide right off the table if the sea got rough.

...Or so I hear.
 

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Also "son-of-a-gun", "posh" and several other common phrases are derived from the royal navy from way back, when Britannia ruled the seas.
 

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I remember hearing that from my grandpa... *grin* I love that phrase.

The navy was also where the phrase "square meals" came from - There was a pair of 2X4s nailed to the table (basically), and they used square plates between them so the plates wouldn't slide right off the table if the sea got rough.

...Or so I hear.
you are correct.
 

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Also "son-of-a-gun", "posh" and several other common phrases are derived from the royal navy from way back, when Britannia ruled the seas.
oh, yeah... Didn't "son of a gun" have to do with the gun deck being a popular place for *ahem* romantic tyrsts with local women?
 

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During stay in home port the sailors families often stayed onboard. Women in hard labor were sometimes placed between 2 cannons and the cannons fired off, hoping the concussion would help induce labor. The male children born during this occurance were so called. LOL
 

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During stay in home port the sailors families often stayed onboard. Women in hard labor were sometimes placed between 2 cannons and the cannons fired off, hoping the concussion would help induce labor. The male children born during this occurance were so called. LOL
*files away in brain* That one I didn't know... Eeenteresting...
 

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During stay in home port the sailors families often stayed onboard. Women in hard labor were sometimes placed between 2 cannons and the cannons fired off, hoping the concussion would help induce labor. The male children born during this occurance were so called. LOL
*files away in brain* That one I didn't know... Eeenteresting...
While thats is interesting its a colorful version of how the phrase "son of a gun" actually came about:

The phrase originated as 'son of a military man' (i.e. a gun). The most commonly repeated version in this strand is that the British Navy used to allow women to live on naval ships. Any child born on board who had uncertain paternity would be listed in the ship's log as 'son of a gun'. While it is attestable fact that, although the Royal navy had rules against it, they did turn a blind eye to women (wives or prostitutes) joining sailors on voyages, so this version has plausibility on its side.
 

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I remember hearing that from my grandpa... *grin* I love that phrase.

The navy was also where the phrase "square meals" came from - There was a pair of 2X4s nailed to the table (basically), and they used square plates between them so the plates wouldn't slide right off the table if the sea got rough.

...Or so I hear.
you are correct.
Or maybe not:
It is widely reported, by tour guides and the like, that this originated from the Royal Navy practise of serving meals on square wooden plates. Such plates did exist and so that sounds like a plausible story. There's no evidence to support it though. In fact, the lateness of the first printed record (see below) pretty well rules this out as a reasonable theory. The Royal Navy's records and many thousands of ship's logs are still available and, if the phrase came from that source, it would surely have been recorded before the mid-19th century.

This 'square plate' theory is a clear example of folk-etymology. The phrase exists, the square plates exist, and two and two make five.

The word square has many meanings, including 'proper, honest, straightforward', and that's the meaning here. This isn't a rectilinear meal on right-angled crockery, but a good and satisfying meal.

The phrase is of US origin. All the early citations are from America, including this, which is the earliest print reference I have found - an advertisement for the Hope and Neptune restaurant, in the California newspaper The Mountain Democrat, November 1856:

"We can promise all who patronize us that they can always get a hearty welcome and 'square meal' at the 'Hope and Neptune. Oyster, chicken and game suppers prepared at short notice."

Source: http://www.phrases.org.uk/meanings/square-meal.html
 

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The original phrase by the Op is in contention here also its a long article but here is the key:

Some references say that the brass triangles that supported stacks of iron cannon-balls on sailing ships were called monkeys and that in cold weather the metal contracted, causing the balls to fall off. The derivation of this phrase is difficult enough to determine without such tosh, so let's get that oft-repeated story out of the way first:

Cartoons of pirate ships always come complete with the usual icons - parrots, peg legs and pyramids of cannon-balls. That's artistic license rather than historical fact. The Royal Navy records that, on their ships at least, cannon-balls were stored in planks with circular holes cut into them - not stacked in pyramids. These planks were known as 'shot garlands', not monkeys, and they date back to at least 1769, when they were first referred to in print.

On dry land, the obvious way to store cannon-balls seems to be by stacking them. On board ship it's a different matter. A little geometry shows that a pyramid of balls will topple over if the base is tilted by more than 30 degrees. This tilting, not to mention any sudden jolting, would have been commonplace on sailing ships. It just isn't plausible that cannon-balls were stacked this way.

Read the rest of the article here: http://www.phrases.org.uk/meanings/cold enough to freeze the balls off a brass monkey.html ...for more therories on the actula origin of cold enough to freeze the balls off a brass monkey.
 

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One of my Mother's favorite exclamations of exasperation with my behaviour as a child was "You'd Fart over a toe string". She claims to have heard it directed at herself as a child (1920s-30s) but has no idea what it actually referred to. Anybody?
 

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The original phrase by the Op is in contention here also its a long article but here is the key
Now why you want to go and let facts get in the way of a perfeclty good story? :D
 
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