On the Origin of Spitting Image

It was my wife’s turn to read a chapter of Andrew Peterson‘s On the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness to our kids when she was stopped by a comment from our eldest daughter.

“Not nice!” said our eldest.

“What?” asked my wife.

“It isn’t nice to spit,” said our eldest.

“That’s true,” supported my wife, “but the thing I just read means something different from that. The phrase ‘spitting image’ means that someone looks just like someone else.”

“Oh,” said our eldest. “Okay.”

spitting-water-1550479The exchange got me curious about that phrase. Where did “spitting image” come from? How did it come to mean what it does?

Here’s what I found.

While some people think that “spitting image” is a deviation from “split image” or “spirit and image” or something like that, all evidence points to a salivary origin. In fact, the older mentions of the phrase use “spit and image” instead of “spitting.”

The idea behind the phrase is that a person is so like another that the original “spit” the copy out of their mouth. According to phrases.org.uk, examples of likeness and being spit out of someone’s mouth date back to at least the 17th century. To back up the fact that the “spit” in question is definitely of the salivary type, the same phrase with the same meaning is attested in both French and Norwegian (though the Norwegians suggest that a person is not spit out of the mouth, but blown out of the nose).

I still can’t say that I completely understand the phrase, since I’ve never looked at something I’ve spit out and thought that it bore a striking resemblance to myself. Other people may think that I look like a bit of phlegm, but I’ve never thought it personally. Oh well, I guess I’d rather have a truth that I don’t fully understand than a lie (like “split image” or “spirit and image”) that makes complete sense.

So next time someone asks you where we got “spitting image” from, you can spit some truth at them.

7 Ways to Make It Feel Like Christmas (Whether It Looks Like It or Not)

I’m not dreaming of a white Christmas. I really hate shoveling snow. So I’m not all that bothered with the unseasonably warm temperatures we’re experiencing in Michigan now. But it is a bit hard to feel like Christmas without snow.

Fear not. Here are 7 things that we can try together in order to recaptures some of that holiday spirit:

  1. Close the curtains (we don’t need the reminder that it isn’t white out there) and put on some Christmas music.
  2. DSC01436Adjust your thermostat and wear a warm sweater. The uglier and more Christmas-y, the better.
  3. Drink something festive: hot cocoa with a candy cane stir stick, mulled wine, or (if you must) eggnog (which is gross, not that I’m judging you).
  4. Watch a Christmas movie: White Christmas, A Christmas Story, A Charlie Brown Christmas, Home Alone (the original only, no sequels), and Elf are all acceptable choices.
  5. Make a miniature snowman out of marshmallows, pretzel sticks, and M&Ms. I’ve never done this, but it sounds like a lot of fun.
  6. Grab your nearest Holy Bible and read Luke 2 over and over until you can recite it by memory.
  7. Call a friend or family member if you aren’t capable of being with them in person.

Hope this helps. If you have other ideas to get into the Christmas spirit, leave them in the comments!

Merry Christmas Eve!