Post by Quinn C Post by Ross Clark Post by Peter T. Daniels Post by Ross Clark Post by Ross Clark Post by Peter T. Daniels
It means that the (dubious in the first place) claim that
it comes from Matt 24:12 is utterly dead.
How exactly does a selection of examples of the use of this
expression tell you that?
The latest one was dated 1833, wasn't it? I never encountered
the expression before this thread. (Of course I don't read
the sort of literary fiction in which it might occasionally
How would either the limitations of your personal experience or
the dating of a selection of examples constitute evidence as to
the expression's origin?
Has anyone demonstrated a connection?
I thought the linked article did quite a good job. What more would
Post by Peter T. Daniels Post by Ross Clark Post by Ross Clark Post by Peter T. Daniels
It's just a meaningless string of words like "kith and
kin" or "to and fro."
Those expressions are not in any sense meaningless. '
The _individual words_ "kith" and "fro" occurs nowhere else.
How does that fact render the expressions meaningless?
Jeez. The EXPRESION is not meaningless; it is an idiom. The
STRING OF WORDS is meaningless.
A very peculiar way of looking at things. The "string of words"
_is_ an expression, which has a meaning. _One_ of the words in each
expression does not occur elsewhere, and hence could be described
This is not the case with "cold as charity".
The word we're looking for may be "opaque". The expression has a
meaning, but people use it without an understanding of how the
meaning of the expression arises from the meaning of the words in it.
In this case, "cold" still contributes its usual meaning, but it's
not clear what "charity" is doing in the idiom, so "charity" could be
thought of as "meaningless" in context, as a decoration or stuffing.
My issue is how the interpretation "acts of charity continue, but
the heart is not in it" arose. That seems a rather modern
interpretation of "charity" to me. I would never read that from the
Bible verse. I'd assume it says that the heart of people grows cold
and they don't help each other any more. I also can't read from the
quotations on the wordhistories.net page where this turned (assuming
that it did.)
I think the origin of the phrase is a cynical reference to the biblical
verse, intended to mock the hypocrisy of some Christians. It must have
come into use at a time when many people would still have recognised the
reference, and "charity" had already come to mean alms-giving. Weren't
the poor-houses considered works of charity?
Also from Matthew, not originally in a Christian context:
6:1 Take heed that ye do not your alms before men, to be seen of them:
otherwise ye have no reward of your Father which is in heaven.
2 Therefore when thou doest thine alms, do not sound a trumpet before
thee, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that
they may have glory of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.
3 But when thou doest alms, let not thy left hand know what thy right