Thursday, May 20, 2021

What do Shakespeare and a Flunking Student Have to Do With It? (Wild West Sayings We Use Today)

 What do a fussy person, obsessive love, Shakespeare, and a flunking student have in common? All pertain to the brand new batch of Wild West sayings we use today, below. Ready to have more fun with words? Grab a cup of tea, coffee, or hot chocolate. Let’s take a little journey into the peculiar history of words, shall we?

 Wild West Sayings We Use Today, Part 23


This delightful word describes a nitpicky person who obsesses over trivial details. It emerged in 1889 as a derivative of ‘pernickety,’ which itself appeared in the early 1800s.  

Historical Reference: Many opinions of the origin of persnickety exist—so many that it becomes clear no one knows for certain. It may have come from the Scottish ‘pernicky,’ a word that is also of unknown origin. Alternatively, persnickety was coined by a child who invented a fun way to say ‘particular.’ But then again, the ‘nick’ part of the word may have come from ‘knick-knack’ and the ‘per’ syllable could have something to do with a Latin prefix meaning ‘thoroughly.’ Trying to figure it out would bogle the mind of any nitpicky person.

Example: He’s so persnickety that it borders on snobbery. 



“To be consumed with longing; to languish with intense desire, to hunger after something; to long eagerly.” That’s how the Oxford English Dictionary defines the word ‘pining.’ It originally described someone in the grip of a romantic obsession. It also designated intense mourning for a lost love. Oh, the Romance! Nowadays, we speak of pining for ice cream.

Historical Reference: ‘Pine’ comes from ‘poena,’ which is Latin for ‘punishment.’ This is the same root word from which ‘pain’ and ‘penalty’ derived. The sense of ‘wasting away from grief or longing’ is documented from early in the 14th century.

Example: “I’ve been pining to see you again.” 

In the Pink

A person brimming with health and in excellent condition is said to be ‘in the pink.’ This phrase also applies to inanimate objects—a house, for example. In that context, it refers to ‘the peak of perfection.’ The idiom was used for centuries since the 16th century. At that time, it described the best of anything.

Historical Reference: The first recorded use of ‘pink’ to mean ‘the best’ occurred in “Romeo and Juliet” by William Shakespeare in 1597: "I am the pinke of curtesie."

Example: “If you exercise and eat right, you’ll be in the pink before you know it.”

Pitch a Fit

Here, if you needed one, is another way to say ‘throw a temper tantrum.” We are talking two-year-old stuff here, as in you-took-away-my-candy hysterics.

Historical Reference: This idiom’s origin is uncertain. ‘Have a fit,’ the earliest form, appeared by the 1600s. ’Fit’ may have a connection to epileptic seizures. By the early 1900s, ‘throw a fit’ made an entrance. ‘Pitch’ began substituting for ‘throw’ later in the century. 

Example: My roommate pitched a fit after he flunked his test.

Many Wild West sayings still used today have unknown origins. While that’s a little frustrating, it allows us to use our imaginations. Let’s have some fun! Take your best guess on one or more of the idioms in the comments. 

What's New with Janalyn Voigt

A fine spring day is shining outside my office window, tempting me to pull on my hiking boots and take to the trails. Spending time in nature always restores me. It's as if the breath of His Spirit ruffles the grasses, sighs through the trees, and revives my spirit. I hope you will make time, before the softness of Spring is gone, to rejoice in the beauty of God's Creation. 

The launch of the Promise Tree (Montana Treasure, book 1) is going well. Check out the blog tour from JustRead publicity: Visit some of the stops to read excerpts, reviews and interviews with the author (me). Don't forget to enter for a chance to win a $20 Amazon gift card.

The Promise Tree

A preacher’s daughter shouldn’t encourage a troublemaker, no matter what her wayward heart desires. 

Liberty has always believed she should marry a man of God, but Jake doesn’t qualify. The promises they’d made at age twelve can’t change that. If only Jake would stop pursuing her, she might keep from falling in love with him. Jake fears he’ll lose Liberty to Beau, the new man in town. He doesn’t trust the smooth-talker—and certainly not with Liberty. Jake and Liberty must each overcome their own false beliefs. Only then can they experience the truth of God’s redeeming love. Read The Promise Tree.

You can step into the Montana Treasure series without having read the Montana Gold books. However, if you prefer to submerge yourself in a fictional world for a while, start with Hills of Nevermore, book 1. The four Montana Gold books are available in print and ebook. As mentioned, audiobook versions have also begun releasing!

Want to know more about the author? Read the official bio:

Janalyn Voigt's unique blend of adventure, romance, suspense, and whimsy creates breathtaking fictional worlds for readers. Janalyn is represented by Wordserve Literary Agency. Her memberships include American Christian Fiction Writers and Northwest Christian Writers Association. When she's not writing, Janalyn loves to discover worlds of adventure in the great outdoors with her family.

Browse books by Janalyn Voigt


  1. Good morning, thanks for posting! I've heard of all of these and have probably used them all at one time or another except for "in the pink". I just love the word "persnickety". Just saying it kind of encourages you to curl your lips in "that" certain way to form a sneer, doesn't it?

    1. Ha! You are totally correct, Connie. :) It's also fun to say. Persnickety, persnickety, persnickety...

  2. Now, in the South, we say, "Pitch a hissie fit." lol Love these posts, Janalyn!

  3. Ah yes, the infamous hissie fit. I have relatives from Missouri and southward. I'm so glad you are enjoying the posts. They're a bit to research, but fun.