Trivia: Origin of phrases [Archive] - Fly Fishing Forum

: Trivia: Origin of phrases

01-10-2001, 08:47 AM
What is the origin of the phrase: "cold enough to freeze the balls off a brass monkey"?

01-10-2001, 10:48 AM
I dunno but we have a regional one herein NEw England: "Colder Than a witches t$%"


01-10-2001, 11:24 AM
I've heard the full expression as "Colder than a witches' t!# in a brass bra"

Also, on M*A*S*H. I heard, "Colder than a witches' elbow", but I assume that's just a cleaned up version of same.

01-10-2001, 11:47 AM
It was so cold this morning, that the mayor of Providence had both his hands in his own pockets!

01-10-2001, 03:08 PM

In the old days, warships with cannons needed to store artillery on deck without having the balls roll around. They stacked them in a pyramid with a brass base which had recesses to hold the bottom rows in place. This brass dimpled plate was called a "brass monkey".

When it was very cold, the moisture and physical properties of the balls, plate etc - combined to destabilize the pyramid and the balls were hard to keep on the plate.

Hence the saying was born "cold enough to freeze the balls off a brass monkey".

Shame on you who visualized a poor primate with a high voice!