TODAY THE WORDS are CHEW THE FAT. Sometimes, I wonder why the topics come to my mind, but here it is “chew the fat” for today. I know that most of us have heard this phrase at least once or more in our lifetime. I feel we southerners have used it more often than that amount. I remember, several times when I was young, hearing someone refer to some one or group that was chewing the fat. I decided I would investigate how this phrase came into our language.
According to the Oxford English Dictionary, “Chew the fat” first appeared in 1885 in a book by J Brunlees Patterson called Life in the Ranks of the British Army in India. He implied it was a kind of general grumbling and bending of the ears of junior officers to stave off boredom, a typical part of army life. Patterson also uses “chew the rag” in the same sentence he used “chew the fat”, but it is not the oldest occurrence. Prior to the adoption of metallic cartridges, most ammunition was composed of powder and a ball wrapped in paper or cloth soaked in animal fat, which was bitten open during musket drill. Soldiers were known to chew on these ends to pass the time and reduce nerves, and in some cases to stave off cravings for chewing tobacco. It seems that it has been used to mean several things but to grumble to keep from being bored but I didn’t realize the use in musket drills. For all of you who know me, understand that I can’t leave this combination of meanings alone. I see some semblances between the two meanings. I have been unfortunate to be in some groups that encouraged gossip (and in my earlier life I engaged in some myself before I found out how useless this is for a successful life). If you have ever been in this situation, you may agree that with a lot of chewing the fat, it becomes loud like a musket firing. What amazes me, is those same voices who gladly share undesirable statements about others would cringe if something was said about them. I thought how this phrase refers to chewing the fat and in this day and time of low fat diets and eating regiments, maybe we all could use a lowering the amount of “gossip fat” to a minimum or cut it out entirely. If we are bored with our lives, do something productive to avoid the boredom. Life is meant to be rich, but never at the expense of others. It is better to add to another’s life being a positive influence rather than a destructive “fat chewer”. Chewing the fat may seem harmless, but it can add pounds of misery to anyone participating. Have a “fat free” day and live life; love life and live life to the fullest!
DAILY FEATURED BIBLE VERSE:
Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear
(c) copyright 2013 Arline Lott Miller. The material here copyrighted, use only by permission.