OK, Someone Please Explain…

First off, my apologies for not getting part 2 out this week. I will work on it this weekend, it has been a very busy week, yesterday alone was an 11 hour shift at work for me.

Please explain to me these two things…

How is Rain right? and How is Punch pleased?

I could google it, but I thought I’d get your take on it first.


9 comments on “OK, Someone Please Explain…

  1. You are just after people to give you some ideas for humor.

    I’ll start with Punch.
    He is pleased because not everyone drinks Hawaiian Punch and so he gets to wail on them with his hammer-like fists.

    It just is. Deal.

  2. Punch is pleased because he’s into sadomasochism, and likes punching other guy’s balls, and fisting their rectums.

    Rain is right because if you don’t agree with him, he’ll call Punch over.

  3. ‘Pleased as Punch’ is a reference to Punch and Judy, the seaside puppet theatre show still occasionally but very rarely found on British seashores but, as late as the 1970s, could be found in a great many more. Punch is pleased because he’s a psychopath. He’s also a killer but he’s quite definitely insane and insanely happy all the time he’s on the rampage.

    And this a children’s show. Truly. As I recall he kills his wife, a policeman and a crocodile.

    ‘Right as rain’ means feeling very good, very well. As in, ‘Me? Yes, I’m fine. Right as rain.’ Rain is perceived as right because it brings water to the earth, and the plants and crops grow because of that. It’s the whole circle of life/wholeness/peace thing. A person in balance, with nothing to worry or complain about, a person who is healthy and content, they are right as rain….

    I suspect both phrases to be very old, but the rain one is much, much older. Punch hasn’t been around forever. I can’t say how long – check Wikipedia – but, maybe 500 years? Less? Anyway, my theory is that right as rain may be older. It has a pagan ring to it, that’s why.

    There you go. I am sure, as is often the case with archaic phrases, more than one answer and/or interpretation. x

  4. Oh, one more thing: I believe the rain statement has its origins in my neck of the woods, the north-west of England, namely Lancashire and parts of Yorkshire. The Punch line (yes, punchline!… there is a link to the same puppet!) likely emerged in Cockney, that is east, London but was certainly widely used in the north-west of England when I was a little boy, and probably even more when my dad was a kid in the 1920s. Now, though, phrases like these, while known to many millions, aren’t being used by the young and might be forgotten altogether within a few more generations. Assuming we have that many left to us, that is. 🙂

  5. Thanks Andy! Those are wome great stories! It’s amazing many of the stories of how these phrases come into existence!

  6. and Pleased as Punch from http://www.phrases.org.uk

    Meaning- Very pleased.

    From the Punch and Judy puppet character. Punch’s name derives from Polichinello (spelled various ways, including Punchinello), an Italian puppet with similar characteristics. In Punch and Judy performances the grotesque Punch character is depicted as self-satisfied and pleased with his evil deeds.

    Punch and Judy shows are popular summer-time entertainments in Britain. They have been somewhat in decline during the latter half of the 20th and into the 21st centuries, due to them being seen as politically incorrect. That’s hardly surprising as the main character Punch is a baby-murdering wife-beater.

    There are numerous ‘as X as Y’ phrases in English – at least 300 are in common use. They invariably compare some characteristic with something that is well-known as exhibiting the same. For example, ‘As safe as the Bank of England’, ‘as white as snow’. Why Punch is seen as synonymous with pleasure or pride is due to the show’s storyline which has him calling out “that’s the way to do it” in a gleeful voice each time he murders another victim.

    Nevertheless, there is still what might be called a folk affection for the old rogue in the UK and it would be a shame to see the tradition fade away completely.

    The show had an Italian origin and has been much changed over the years. It began in Britain at the time of the restoration of the monarchy in the 17th century. Samuel Pepys’ Diary has an entry from 1666 that shows this early origin and also the popularity of the show even then:

    “I with my wife… by coach to Moorefields, and there saw ‘Polichinello’, which pleases me mightily.”

    The phrase ‘as pleased as Punch’ appears fairly late in the story. The earliest known record is from Thomas Moore’s Letters to Lady Donegal, 1813:

    “I was (as the poet says) as pleased as Punch.”

    See other ‘as xxx as yyy’ phrases.”

    My own afternote- in France he is either Polichinelle or Guignol though!

  7. OK Hayes….this is from the Notes and Queries column in The Guardian (which you might like as it does lots of this stuff)

    What is the origin of “as right as rain”? Or “as right as ninepence”?

    Jeremy Reynolds, London

    Brewer’s Phrase and Fable again, I’m afraid, but the phrase was “As NICE as Ninepence” which in turn came from “as nice as Nine pins”

    Julian McCarthy, Kingston-upon-Thames, UK
    Perhaps surprisingly, there have been expressions starting right as … since medieval times, always in the sense of something being satisfactory, safe, secure or comfortable. An early example, quoted as a proverb as long ago as 1546, is right as a line. In that, right might have had a literal sense of straightness, something desirable in a line, but it also clearly has a figurative sense of being correct or acceptable. There’s an even older example, from the Romance of the Rose of 1400: “right as an adamant”, where an adamant was a lodestone or magnet. Lots of others have followed in the centuries since. There’s right as a gun, which appeared in one of John Fletcher’s plays, Prophetess, in 1622. Right as my leg is also from the seventeenth century is in Sir Thomas Urquhart’s translation of Gargantua and Pantagruel, by Rabelais, published in 1664: “Some were young, quaint, clever, neat, pretty, juicy, tight, brisk, buxom, proper, kind-hearted, and as right as my leg, to any man’s thinking”. There’s right as a trivet from the nineteenth century, a trivet being a stand for a pot or kettle placed over an open fire; this may be found in Charles Dickens’s Pickwick Papers of 1837: “I hope you are well, sir.” “Right as a trivet, sir,”; replied Bob Sawyer. About the same time, or a little later, people were saying that things were as right as ninepence, as right as a book, as right as nails, or as right as the bank. Right as rain is a latecomer to this illustrious collection of curious similes. It may have first appeared at the very end of the nineteenth century, but the first example I can find is from Max Beerbohm’s book Yet Again of 1909: “He looked, as himself would undoubtedly have said, ‘fit as a fiddle'”; or “right as rain”. Since then it has almost completely taken over from the others. It makes no more sense than the variants it has usurped and is clearly just a play on words (though perhaps there’s a lurking idea that rain often comes straight down, in a right line, to use the old sense). But the alliteration was undoubtedly why it was created and has helped its survival. As right as ninepence has had a good run, too, but that has vanished even in Britain since we decimalised the coinage and since ninepence stopped being worth very much.

    Tristan Childs, Maida Vale, England

  8. And I don’t hink that Pleased as Punch was only East London (and that’s my neck of the woods) it was pretty much nationwide- although many phrases did come out of East London, and cockney rhyming slang in particular. The one I like is ‘Well I’ll go to the foot of our stairs’ (more from Andy’s area…..)

  9. Pingback: Crème de bloggers 5 | The Spicy Cauldron

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