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Posts Tagged ‘phrase of the week’

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Make no bones about

Meaning

To state a fact in a way that allows no doubt. To have no objection to.

Origin

This is another of those ancient phrases that we accept with our mother’s milk as an idiom but which seem quite strange when we later give it some thought. When we are trying to convey that we acknowledge or have no objection to something, why bring bones into it?

It has been suggested that the bones were dice, which were previously made from bone and are still called bones in gambling circles. That explanation doesn’t stand up to scrutiny – ‘to make no dice about it’ makes little sense. Also, in a 1542 translation of Erasmus’s Paraphrase of Luke he discussed the command given to Abraham to sacrifice Isaac and wrote that ‘he made no bones about it but went to offer up his son.’ Erasmus wasn’t noted for his visits to the gaming tables and would hardly have used betting terminology to discuss a biblical text. (more…)

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