Favorite

But they couldn’t see the grove for the trees:

“To say it was insane would be an understatement. It was a circus built and constructed by the media and the fans flocked in groves to witness.”

From Sarita Riley:

“Lately, I can’t seem to go a day without hearing the phrase ‘Living the life of Riley’ or ‘Living the life of Raleigh.’ I had never heard this before. Everyone who says it thinks it means that they are either living outside of their means or living the high life. Where did this phrase come from and is it ‘Riley’ or ‘Raleigh’? ”

I’ve never seen it written as “life of Raleigh,” and if I’ve ever heard it that way, I didn’t know it. Life of Riley — “the good life, the prosperous life” — is correct. Since we’re not 100 percent sure of the origin, Sarita can claim that the original Riley was one of her ancestors, if she likes. “Listening to America” by Stuart Berg Flexner offers the only explanation that I know of — “This expression was first popular around 1910 but probably comes from Pat Rooney’s 1883 comic song Is That Mr. Reilly?, which tells what Mr. Reilly would do if he suddenly became rich, such as sleeping in the president’s chair, owning hotels, etc.” If Flexner’s theory is correct, somewhere along the line Reilly became the easier-to-spell Riley.That’s how it was when “The Life of Riley” TV show, starring William Bendix, came along in the ’50s.

The life of Sir Walter Raleigh, 16th-century English soldier, explorer and man of letters, was not as prosperous as he would have liked — his expeditions in search of gold didn’t pan out — but it was exciting, right up to the time he was executed by hanging, which was probably more excitement than he could enjoy.

Deborah Kirby says she saw this in a publication for librarians — “I came within a hare’s breath of ordering a much-needed video … ” The correct form is hairsbreadth — a very small space or distance, the width of a hair. A hare’s breath is carroty, I’ve heard, but not so bad if they floss.

Favorite

Sign up for the Daily Update email
  |  

Comments

Showing 1-1 of 1

Add a comment

 
Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-1 of 1

Add a comment

More by Doug Smith

  • The L word and the C word

    I was excited to see the newspaper headline "Bielema liberal." "After all those neo-Nazis, we've finally got a coach who thinks right," I told friends. "I wonder if he belongs to the ADA."
    • May 1, 2014
  • Who's exasperated?

    Jim Newell was gripped by exasperation himself after reading this item in the business section. "Exacerbated" is the word the writer wanted, he sagely suggests.
    • Apr 24, 2014
  • We will run no race before it's ripe

    "What year would Oaklawn recognize as its 100th anniversary? After all, Oaklawn's advertising material is ripe with 'Since 1904,' but it's widely reported the first race wasn't run until 1905."
    • Apr 17, 2014
  • More »

More by Max Brantley

  • The Mondo Trumpe open line

    A world of the dogs? Check out Trump's latest poll ratings.
    • Jul 22, 2018
  • University pay ranking puts UA System chief at 57

    The Chronicle of Higher Education recently released its survey of pay of top public and private university leaders in 2016-17. Donald Bobbitt, president of the University of Arkansas System, checked in at No. 57 on the list of 251 public university leaders.
    • Jul 22, 2018
  • Winds, race and an open line

    The open line includes power outages, Republicans and racism.
    • Jul 21, 2018
  • More »

Latest in Words

  • The L word and the C word

    I was excited to see the newspaper headline "Bielema liberal." "After all those neo-Nazis, we've finally got a coach who thinks right," I told friends. "I wonder if he belongs to the ADA."
    • May 1, 2014
  • Who's exasperated?

    Jim Newell was gripped by exasperation himself after reading this item in the business section. "Exacerbated" is the word the writer wanted, he sagely suggests.
    • Apr 24, 2014
  • We will run no race before it's ripe

    "What year would Oaklawn recognize as its 100th anniversary? After all, Oaklawn's advertising material is ripe with 'Since 1904,' but it's widely reported the first race wasn't run until 1905."
    • Apr 17, 2014
  • More »
 

© 2018 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation