Make No Bones About It

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make no bones about it

Post by Archived Topic » Sun Mar 28, 2004 3:37 pm

Jeff, USA I was thinking that dice were made of bones and that to make no bone about it would mean that there is no chance involved in the topic at hand; that the outcome is certain. But I also read that the expression had to do with the idea that soups in the old days often had bones in it that could be dangerous for guests. The expression then, make no bones about it, had to do with being reassured that there positively were no bones in the soup and the guest could be rest assured of that.
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make no bones about it

Post by Archived Reply » Sun Mar 28, 2004 3:51 pm

From: The Maven's Archive.

There are two modern meanings for make no bones about: 'to have no objection to' and 'to be straightforward'.

It does have to do with actual bones, but there are two theories of the phrase's origin. Since dice were originally made of bone, bones has been a slang term for 'dice' since the 14th century. According to one theory, if you make no bones, you're not making any effort to coax the dice.

The first cites for make no bones or, an earlier version, find no bones lend more credence to the other theory, which is that the phrase originally referred to the bones in a bowl of soup. If there are no bones in your soup, there are no obstacles to swallowing it. Let's start with a sentence in one of the 1459 Paston Letters: "...and fond that tyme no bonys in the matere." It is evident from the context that by "finding no bones," the writer means finding no obstacles or objections to the matter under discussion. Another early citation contains clear references to swallowing: "Supped it up at once; She found therein no bones" (Skelton, The tunnyng of Elynour Rummyng, 1529), with the meaning 'she agreed at once, without any objection'. Finding no bones became making no bones by the middle of the 16th century: "Whatsoever matter is intreated of, they never make bones in it" (Marbeck, Book of Notes, 1581).

It's not completely clear how to make no bones about something came to mean 'to state something in a way that allows no doubt', as in "... Dr. Libby makes no bones about the catastrophe of a nuclear war" (Bulletin of Atomic Science, 1955). It might have evolved from the fact that, if you have no objection to something, you're not hesitant and make no attempt to hide your views. I found several headlines that used the phrase to refer to sports events, as "A's Make No Bones about It. They Wallop Orioles Again." And it has, appropriately, become part of a campaign to educate people about osteoporosis with headlines like "Make No Bones About It, Osteoporosis Strikes All."

Although it's not very common, you can certainly make bones. Here's Thackeray in Pendennis (1850): "Do you think that the government or the opposition would make any bones about accepting the seat if he offered it to them?" When Richard Simpson says in The School of Shakspere (1878), "Elizabeth was thus making huge bones of sending some 7000 pounds over for the general purposes of the government in Ireland," he obviously means that she was objecting mightily"

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make no bones about it

Post by Archived Reply » Sun Mar 28, 2004 4:05 pm

a mafia rejectee
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no bones about it

Post by Archived Topic » Tue May 11, 2004 12:58 pm

while dismantling the thanksgiving turkey carcass to make soup, my brother and i pondered the phrase "make no bones about it," both the origin and the appropriate usage. i ventured that it might reference taking a clear position on something, in that your position didn't need to be ferreted out of the "bones" of a discussion. he said that sounded too "foody" but didn't have any better idea. your insights would be appreciated! and the soup was quite tasty! linda/usa
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no bones about it

Post by Archived Reply » Tue May 11, 2004 1:13 pm

The Word Detective has his usual witty riff on this phrase, if you'll link to the site through Resources. The expression's been around for at least 500 years (!). No one knows the source, but the WD speculates.
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no bones about it

Post by Archived Reply » Tue May 11, 2004 1:27 pm

linda, thanx for the response. i have seen the WD answer and was hoping to get another answer. oh well i'll keep looking for an answer somewhere.
Reply from Linda Dewlaney (Fremont - U.S.A.)
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Make No Bones About It

Post by Archived Topic » Mon Oct 11, 2004 6:15 pm

Where did this come from and what does it actually mean?
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Make No Bones About It

Post by Archived Reply » Mon Oct 11, 2004 6:29 pm

See WorldWideWords
http://www.quinion.com/words/qa/qa-bon1.htm
and previous discussions # 2391and 2595
Simple Simon
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Make No Bones About It

Post by Archived Reply » Mon Oct 11, 2004 6:44 pm

In the mafia, making your bones means you qualified for full membership by killing someone, thus making no bones
means the individual is a punk, or apprentice mafioso.
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Make No Bones About It

Post by Archived Reply » Mon Oct 11, 2004 6:58 pm

Could you get an affiliate membership by just breaking someone's legs? In a similar vein, it was apparently the Mafia who vastly increased the trafficking in illegal anaesthetics. They called it the numbers game.
Chicolini

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