Did you know they started 'hearing through the grapevine' during the American Civil War? It was a reference to the telegraph lines used for communicating with the army. These looked like twisted grapevines. And why does the phrase now suggest unreliable information? Because the lines were used by enemy troops to send false battle reports.
Similarly, 'deadline' has a rather disturbing and extremely sinister origin. Again originating in the American Civil War it refers to an actual line drawn in the dirt or marked by a fence around prisoners. If the prisoners crossed this line the guards would shoot to kill.
And of course, "Cut to the quick," originally meant a sword blow that cut through the armor and into the flesh beneath.
Jam-packed with many amazing facts, Stickler's Sideburns and Bikinis
is an intriguing and entertaining trip through the words and phrases that originated in the military but are now used by soldier and civilian alike. The sources of many are surprising and their original use is often far removed from how we use the word today. From 'duds' to 'freelancers' and 'morris dancing' to 'snooker' this enthralling book describes the military origins of words that we all use without thought on a daily basis.
"...Sticklers, Sideburns and Bikinis is consistent in content, formatting, and layout. Each word is accompanied by a paragraph of its history (or more, as the case may be) as to how the word came into the language. Even mayonnaise, which I dip my French fries into much to the horror of ketchup-loving friends, has its origin in the military (a victory dinner with very few ingredients resulted in the invention on mahonnaise in the Port of Mahon by a military chef).
Graeme Donald has taken great pains to research the word origins in his book and makes a point of not relying solely on English experts but also on military experts who sometimes have a different view on the origins of a word. For words with unresolved disagreements, Donald provides both (along with his e-mail if you want to weigh in on which version is right).
Overall, this is a compact and well-done book that can be read cover to cover or in random bits as the mood strikes you." -www.booklorn.com
Osprey Publishings' FUBAR - 2007's dictionary of military slang - was widely praised, and received wide coverage in national media circles, including featuring in an article in The Spectator