Thursday, December 27, 2007

Colder Than a Witch's Tit Phrase


"Does anyone know the origin of the phrase: "colder than a witch's tit?" Meaning it's really cold; any clue as to origin and or associations?" The simple explanation is that "colder than a witch's tit" is just a vivid metaphor, like "hotter than the hinges of hell." Since a witch is in league with Satan, presumably she has no maternal feelings. Thus the medium by which she would suckle a child is, well, cold as a witch's tit.
If you do know where this phrase came from leave a comment

4 comments:

Joanne Casey said...

I have no idea but I looked it up and here are a couple of answers...

Colder than a witches tit.
When the temperature falls low enough to freeze mercury in the bulb or tit of a weather witch or what is commonly known as a mercury thermomoter it is said
to be as cold as a witches tit.

or

The simple explanation is that “colder than a witch’s tit” is just a vivid metaphor, like “hotter than the hinges of hell.” Since a witch is in league with Satan, presumably she has no maternal feelings. Thus the medium by which she would suckle a child is, well, cold as a witch’s tit.

But there’s some history behind this. A witch’s tit (or witch’s teat, to use the older spelling) supposedly left a marking that witch hunters and courts would look for on the body of an accused person. Supposedly, witches would suckle their familiars, and sometimes the Devil himself, from this “unholy” body part. To find these marks, as well as insensitive spots on the skin called devil’s marks–caused by the Devil’s claws or teeth–the suspects were stripped, shaven, then closely examined for any blemishes, moles, or even scars that could be labeled as diabolical. To find marks invisible to the eye, the examiner would poke the victim inch by inch with a blunt needle (called a bodkin) until they found a spot that didn’t feel pain or bled. Discovery of these marks or spots–one supposes they would be considered cold since they were a sign of communion with the Devil–would be “proof” of the person’s dealings with Scratch, so they would be shown in full court before the execution.

Homer said...

Cool!

Anonymous said...

A witches tit is a term used to desribe how cannonballs were stacked on the deck of a ship in a pyramid shape. When it was cold sailors referred to the cold ccannonballs as a cold witches tit.

Anonymous said...

Found this:
all war ships and many freighters carried
iron cannons. Those cannons fired round iron cannon balls. It was necessary
to keep a good supply near the cannon. However, how to prevent them from
rolling about the deck? The best storage method devised was a square-based
pyramid with one ball on top, resting on four resting on nine, which rested
on sixteen. Thus, a supply of 30 cannon balls could be stacked in a small
area right next to the cannon. There was only one problem....how to prevent
the bottom layer from sliding or rolling from under the others. The solution
was a metal plate called a 'Monkey' with 16 round indentations. However, if
this plate were made of iron, the iron balls would quickly rust to it. The
solution to the rusting problem was to make 'Brass Monkeys.' Few landlubbers realize that brass contracts much more and much faster than iron when chilled.. Consequently, when the temperature dropped too far, the brass indentations would shrink so much that the iron cannonballs would come right off the monkey; Thus, it was quite literally, 'Cold enough to freeze the balls off a brass monkey.' (All this time, you thought that was an improper expression, didn't you.)