Pascal Trégueretymology, French/English, religionanimals, Christianity, dictionaries, Germanic, Latin, phrases, vegetal, Virgil

The expression a line in the grass denotes a treacherous human being or harmful thing that is covert or watch harmless.

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It may eventually be after ~ the complying with from Eclogues, through the roman poet Virgil (Publius Vergilius Maro – 70-19 BC):

Qui legitis flores et humi nascentia fraga, frigidus, O pueri, fugite hinc, latet anguis in herba. (translation: A. S. Kline – 2001) You guys that choose flowers, and strawberries, near the ground, operation away native here, a cold snake hides in the grass.

The English phrase very first appeared together the location of a book, published in London in 1696, by Charles Leslie (1650-1722), a nonjuring Church that Ireland cleric (i.e. A cleric that refused to take the oath that allegiance to wilhelm III and also Mary II in 1689):

The line in the grass: or, Satan transform’d into an point of view of light. Finding out the deep and unsuspected subtilty which is couched under the pretended simplicity of plenty of of the principal leaders that those civilization call’d Quakers

Thomas blacksmith (1638-1710), a nonjuring cleric and expelled fellow of Magdalen College, Oxford, used the phrase in a letter dated fifth March 1709:

(from Remarks and Collections of thomas Hearne – Oxford, 1886) they are currently striking in ~ the foundations of the Colleges that both Universityes, under the pretense of having the law repealed, wᶜʰ oblige the Fellowes to take H. Orders: but it is visible, the there is a line in the grasse, and the designe is mischievous, top top the Supposition of your being created in the times of ignorance and Superstition: wᶜʰ will equally hold to lessen the variety of Dignityes in Cathedrals, and also by degrees draw top top the sacrilegious invasion of their revenues, to maintaine this divine warre against Popery, and introduce Presbyterian parity & poverty among our Clergy.

The exact same idea was expressed through the useless phrase a pad in the straw, where pad, of germanic origin, means toad. It is very first recorded in the textbook Lesclarcissement de la langue francoyse (1530), by the teacher and also scholar of languages john Palsgrave (died 1554):

(1852 edition) there is a padde in the strawe. Il y a de loignon. Despite they make never so fayre a face, however there is a padde in the strawe: tant tiennent ilz bonne myne, or tant facent ilz bonne mine, si il y a de loignon.

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The obsolete French phrase il y a de l’oignon, precise there is some onion, way there are obscure motives, suspiciously events, which offer an inkling that challenges are afoot. Randle Cotgrave interpreted it, under the headword oignon, in A Dictionarie of the French and English Tongues (1611):

Il y a de l’oignon. Over there is a pad in the straw, there’s rather amisse amongst them.

The beginning of this French expression is obscure; maybe the photo is that such engine or events, choose an onion, give one reasons to cry…