Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Today I have chosen to look at the phrase “lost your marbles” and it’s variant “losing your marbles”. Let us begin.

From Wiki Answers:

The word ‘marbles’ has had many meanings throughout history. Marbles are generally known as the little glass balls that children use to play a game. From the mid 19th century, ‘marbles’ was also used to mean ‘personal effects’, ‘goods’, or more generally ‘stuff’. This derived from the French word ‘meubles’, which means ‘furniture’. Therefore, to lose one’s marbles means “to lose your stuff,” or, idomatically, to lose one’s mind.

From World Wide Words:

The earliest example given in the standard references is from It’s Up to You; A Story of Domestic Bliss, by George V Hobart, dated 1902: “I see-sawed back and forth between Clara J. and the smoke-holder like a man who is shy some of his marbles.”

That certainly sounds like the modern meaning of marbles, which as you say refers to one’s sanity. But in an earlier appearance, the writer used it to mean angry, not insane (mad, that is, in the common US sense rather than the British one). It was printed in theLima News of Ohio in July 1898: “He picked up the Right Honorable Mr Hughes on a technicality, and although that gentleman is reverential in appearance as Father Abraham and as patient as Job, he had, to use an expression of the street, lost his ‘marbles’ most beautifully and stomped on the irascible Harmon, very much à la Bull in the china shop.”

The origin must surely come from the boys’ game of marbles, which was very common at the time. To play was always to run the risk of losing all one’s marbles and the result might easily be anger, frustration, and despair. That would account for the 1898 example and it’s hardly a step from there to the wider meaning of mad — to do something senseless or stupid.

Lastly, from Urban Dictionary:

Lose your marbles = lose one’s mind, insanity, person who does not have common sense/wits.
“Lose your marbles”
I knew she’d eventually lose her marbles = I knew she’d eventually lose her common sense/rational mind

Have you lost your marbles?. Means the same as “Have you lost your mind”?

There you have it. Have I ever lost my marbles? Absolutely!! Have I found them?? I think the better question is do I want them back!

Obviously a reference to forgetting things rather than mental illness.

I stumbled across this one and couldn’t help but chuckle since there are references to some other Word Wednesday entries. Check out the site, there are some other funny toons there you may enjoy.

Couldn’t have said it better myself!




About Holly

I hope you're able to glean something from this blog, a nugget of wisdom, a new perspective, a smile or even a laugh. I enjoy getting feedback so please comment, share your story with me too. After all, we're here to help each other.
This entry was posted in children's mental health, definition, etymology, parenting and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Wednesday, July 25, 2012

  1. maiamajumder says:

    I love your style, Holly. What a fun, informative, but truly genuine post. 🙂

  2. Holly says:

    Thank you so much, you’re too kind. I like your use of the smiley face. 😉

  3. I’ve lost many over the years…and I have to say…good riddance! LOL! Very cute, and I love the cartoons, Holly! Hope you are doing well! XOXO-SWM

  4. Holly says:

    i don’t really know if I’d want any of my old ones back either. New marbles, though, might be nice. 😉

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