Wednesday, August 15, 2012


Nancy Harrigan from Sugar Loaf wrote, “My dad used to say ‘Nice play, Reveille’.
He was born in 1909 so I wonder if this could have come out of the war..........or maybe a line from a movie. It meant I made a mistake, so I heard it often!”

Reveille is played on a bugle at the beginning of the day when the flag is raised. It serves as a wakeup call to the troops. In effect, your Dad was giving you a wakeup call—a warning that you needed to wake up and notice your mistake. I wasn’t able to find out if it had ever been used in a movie—or even outside of your household, for that matter. In my youth, "nice play, ox" was the appropriate way to greet a clumsy ball player.

Nancy also sent along a joke about the origin of the political terms left wing and right wing. "The heart of the wise inclines to the right, but the heart of the fool to the left." [Ecclesiastes 10:2 NIV]  The author of this verse was simply displaying a very ancient prejudice against left-handedness. I wrote about this in my blog of January 3, 2007, titled My Right Hand Man Has Two Left Feet.

The terms actually arose in France in the 18th century. In the French Parliament, those who sat to the right of the parliament’s president supported the old-fashioned monarchy, with its emphasis on traditionalism, hierarchy, and clericalism. Those who sat to the left of the president supported revolution.

SIDEBAR: Reveille

Available from McFarland & Co.: Word Parts Dictionary, 2nd edition
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