This post is a showcase for brilliant examples of the wit and wisdom of the vernacular.
It was inspired by finding this one, never before heard:
“I’ll be 75 Oct. 6,” Willie says. “And still getting me some unda-yonda.”
That could be the best term for sex ever invented. What else captures in a breath the way it’s at once low down and far out, humiliating and transcendent? “Genius” is not an overstatement.
(Sex and its associated anatomy are of course among the greatest inspirers of these coinages. Nookie is another goodie.)
The anonymous folk poets who coin these things are among my foremost culture heroes. They salt and season the language, that bubbling Irish stew anyone can throw a little something into, that ever-evolving collective cuisine we all take into our mouths every day.
Please contribute your own examples. Please live up to the high standard set by this one.
There are basically two categories: new terms you’ve just discovered, and clichés reappreciated. Every cliché is a fossil coinage that was so apt that it got swallowed by the language. My kickoff example for that category is over the hill. You don’t know how apt that one is until you get over said hill. Only then do you realize how hill-like life is — an energetic, engrossing climb with your next steps in front of your nose and the summit in your sights, followed by an unanticipated and precipitous toboggan ride.
There may even be a third category for word-origin sleuths: what were probably once lively slang expressions entombed in etymology. Like the grandly dismissive Latinate preposterous, which essentially means “ass-backwards” (which actually means “ass-forwards”).
Have at it.