Family Sayings:

I have often wondered how our language, the words we use in our everyday life, came into being. Why is a chair called a chair, a friend named a friend, etc.? Well, our family like everyone else’s clan, has a few exclusive words or phrases that are used only by us. This jargon has either been passed down from one generation to the next or we have been the originators, the ones’ who created these expressions, use them and now they have become a part of our personal vocabulary. Although some of this terminology won’t be found in the Webster Dictionary, it has very real meaning to us. Let me give you a few examples.

All buggered up.
Now this expression is in the dictionary (meaning all messed up) but I have only heard it used on a regular basis during my childhood days so it might have roots in my Irish/English heritage. This saying came to light one day when Chuck, the kids and I were visiting my parents. Three-year old Steven fell and scraped his knee. He promptly informed his grandmother and I that he was, “All buggered up.” “Where on earth did he hear that kind of language?” asked my mother as she looked at me with an accusing stare. I really had no idea. A few minutes later my dad arrived home from visiting his brother. “Well,” said Dad, “Lorne is all buggered up with rheumatism.” Mystery solved!

A Jim Day.
My brother, Jim had the worst possible luck of anyone I ever knew. If there was the slightest chance of things going sideways, it always did for him. It got to the point where my siblings and I would find out what Jim was planning for a certain day and we would do the exact opposite. If Jim was planning on a sunny outside activity, we immediately knew it would be a rainy weekend. To this very day, when things go wrong for us, we simply say we are having “a Jim Day.” But Jim was always optimistic. He would move on from one mishap to the next and just say, “Let the Adventure Continue” – another saying we have adopted.

A Chuck Look.
Chuck, like most men, can never find anything even when given very specific, detailed directions where to search. No matter where he looks, his view is geared for straight ahead. The eyes do not move. Peripheral vision does not exist. Unless the object jumps out at him, it will forever remain elusive. Years ago, I labeled this half-assed unsuccessful attempt at finding things as “A Chuck Look.” This expression immediately caught on with all members of my extended family as it appears there are many individuals this saying applies to. Even to this day, the grandkids use this phrase in normal conversation. For example, “Dad, Andrew can’t find his shoes. He did a Chuck look.” They fully understand the meaning and use it in the correct context but I’m not 100% sure if they realize it is a made-up expression by our family alone.

Amongst Them Be It.
I’m assuming this is an old Irish/English saying that my dad’s ancestors may have used because we learned this statement from him. My sister and I use this phrase all the time as it just seems to perfectly sum up so many different situations. One example could be – when something happens or someone does something that you disagree with but is totally out of your hands, the comment “Amongst them be it” just seems the perfect response, sort of like using the teenagers’ expression, “Whatever.” It is kind of like putting a period at the end of a sentence. The discussion is over.

These are just a few examples of the many words that have made it into the Connell/Pilon dictionary. I’d love to hear about the phrases your family has invented and used over the years. I think we would be surprised at the amount of new vocabulary we have created and added to the English language.