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Posted: Thu Jul 14, 2005 8:08 pm
by Alton
What is the origin of "wet behind the ears" as a description of a naive person.
Also where does "all wet" come from as a description of a person who's opinions (or opinion) are/is, all wrong or are my definitions correct.


Posted: Thu Jul 14, 2005 8:15 pm
by Alton
Ken Greenwald,
A second question and non sequiter to the previous would you explain to me the numbers that appear on top of each post
my last entry was labelled, 21,7,41 how does this relate to central time of what was then 4:07 p,m,?


Posted: Thu Jul 14, 2005 8:44 pm
by Erik_Kowal

The answer to your second question is that the Wordwizard site is hosted in the United Kingdom, which is six hours ahead of CST (Central Standard Time). The time stamp is always given in GMT (otherwise known as UTC), regardless of the time of year; GMT is constant, and is season-independent.

Because this is summertime, your time zone is currently CDT (Central Daylight Time), which is seven hours ahead of GMT. The time stamp uses the 24-hour clock (what you may know as 'military time'); hence 4.07 p.m. CDT = 16.07 CDT military time = 21.07 UTC.

The third element in your example, 41, relates to the number of seconds after the minute that your contribution was posted.



Posted: Thu Jul 14, 2005 8:59 pm
by russcable
Okay, now I'm confused! Alton's profile says he's in Toronto which should be Eastern not Central. In any case it's not quite 4:00 CDT now so it couldn't have been 4:07 CDT when the first post was made (which my browser shows as 21:08:41 not 21:07:41).


Posted: Thu Jul 14, 2005 9:15 pm
by kagriffy
And, just to clarify, Erik, CDT is actually 5 hours BEHIND UTC, not 7 hours AHEAD of it. Central Standard Time is 6 hours behind UTC; when we go on daylight savings time, we're only 5 hours behind. I'm thinking this website doesn't use UTC as the time stamp; I think it uses the current time in the UK. That would explain why Alton, who is in Toronto and currently on Eastern Daylight Time (EDT) is 5 hours behind the time stamp. EDT is actually only 4 hours behind UTC, but it is 5 hours behind the current UK time (because the UK is also currently on daylight savings time). To test my theory, the time right now (CDT) is approximately 4:15 p.m. (or 16:15 in military time). Therefore, my post should be time-stamped as 21:15 (if the time stamp uses UTC) or 22:15 (if it uses current UK time). Here goes.


Posted: Thu Jul 14, 2005 9:16 pm
by kagriffy


Posted: Thu Jul 14, 2005 9:34 pm
by Erik_Kowal
Allen, thanks for the correction -- I was not thinking straight regarding CDT vs. UTC. I guess the last word regarding the status of UTC. vs. BST (British Summer Time) for the time stamp will rest with the Forum Admin.


Posted: Thu Jul 14, 2005 11:52 pm
by Forum Admin
The forum is hosted in the UK and set to the local host server time (not GMT/UTC), but you seem to have worked that out for yourselves.


Posted: Fri Jul 15, 2005 3:36 am
by Alton
Thank you for the info as to the correct time here. From now on EDT it is! I hope it will put your mind at ease when I tell you that I'm at least as confused if not more so than you when it comes to time and zones. However I do know where I am................
I think.


Posted: Fri Jul 15, 2005 5:51 am
by Ken Greenwald
Alton, (STILL) WET BEHIND THE EARS or NOT DRY BEHIND THE EARS refers to someone who is innocent of the ways of the world, inexperienced, immature, unsophisticated, green, naïve. These American expressions probably both date back in speech to the 1800s. Most sources date the first appearance in print of ‘wet behind the ears’ as 1931 (see quote), and ‘dry behind the ears' from the early 1900s (see 1914 quote). However, included below are some quotes which push both of these dates back a bit further.

The expressions are said to derive from the traditional belief, which may or may not be true, that the last place to dry on some newborn animals, such as foals (baby horses) and calves (baby cows), is the small indentations behind each ear. “Thus, to say that someone is ‘wet behind the ears’ is a folksy way of saying that they lack the experience or savvy necessary to accomplish a task.” Notice that some of the earliest appearances of these expressions were out of the mouths of politicians, who, in all likelihood, brought them back with them from the farms and ranches where they grew up.
<1880 “To an irrelevant question by Gen. Warner, of Ohio, Mr. Hawley replied: ‘Why, you have HARDLY GOT DRY BEHIND THE EARS since you were born into the Democratic party.’”—‘Chicago Daily, 12 June, page 3>

<1900 [They] refused to sit by and allow any of the offices to be handed over to the new party recruits, whose Democracy [[tenure in the Democratic party]] was NOT YET DRY BEHIND THE EARS.”—‘Chicago Daily,’ 7 July, page 3>

<1910 “The President of the Province of Pomerania has emulated Prince Ludwig’s tactlessness in a fulmination arraigning the editors of Germany as ‘a gang of beardless youths, mostly NOT DRY BEHIND THE EARS.”—‘New York Times,’ 11 September, [age C2>

<1914 “DRY BACK OF THE EARS;—of persons.”—‘Dialect Notes IV. page 105>

<1930 “‘Hardly,’ says I. ‘The plot is still WET BEHIND THE EARS . . .”—‘Los Angeles Times,’ 11 May, page J18>

<1931 “WET BEHIND THE EARS, a term of reproach imputing ignorance or youth.”—‘Songs and Slang of the British Soldier: 1914-1918’ (edition 3) by Brophy & Partridge), page 375>

<1938 “Nowadays lads whose hair is still WET BEHIND THE EARS pause in the first flush of their careers to take a backward glance.”—N.Y.Times, 27 May, page 75>

<1939 “When you bastards get DRY BEHIN' THE EARS, you'll maybe learn to let an ol' fella sleep.”—‘Grapes of Wrath,’ ix. page 109>

<1945 “Married! You’re still WET BEHIND THE EARS”—“It’s a Free Country” by Ben Ames Williams”>

<1945 “They AREN’T DRY BEHIND THE EARS, so to speak, but still believe in Santa Claus.”—‘Chicago Daily News, August>

<1962 “You're still WET BEHIND THE EARS, darling. It's time you grew up.”—‘Coil of Rope’ by J. F. Straker, vii. page 71>

<1968 “I am not an abortionist but neither am I WET BEHIND THE EARS. I've been around.”—‘Three Toed Pussy’ by W. J. Burley, iv. page 68>
Oxford English Dictionary, Facts on File Encyclopedia of Word and Phrase Origins, Facts on File Dictionary of Clichés, Oxford Dictionary of Slang, Brewer’s Dictionary of Phrase & Fable, American Heritage Dictionary of Idioms, Picturesque Expressions by Urdang, Chapman’s Dictionary of American Slang, Word Detective)

Ken G – July 14, 2005 (Mountain Daylight Savings Time)


Posted: Fri Jul 15, 2005 8:29 pm
by haro
Exactly the same in German: "feucht hinter den Ohren." No idea when it first appeared in print, though.