Date: Thu, 23 Apr 1998 12:05:13 -0700
From: Bill King
Subject: Re: P.S. on banshees

Donald M. Lance wrote:

> IMHO, The transfer of 'banshee' from one kind of "frenzy-verb" to another is
> a normal linguistic process that doesn't have to be "learned" from someone
> else and doesn't have to be dialectal (regional, social, ...). I'm sure I've
> heard "working like a banshee" and have a picture of a carpenter, hoe-hand,
> cotton-picker, or some other physical laborer working so fast that his/her
> movememnts appear to be frantic. "Screaming like a banshee" is accompanied
> ny ph/frenetic or frantic movement as well. I think I might even use
> "banshee" with a variety of verbs to evoke such an image -- maybe because of
> the Celtic (mostly Welsh) blood that roils along with the Teutonic plasma in
> my arteries and veins.

I've heard it too. I've also heard "we were just wailing," meaning working
intensely. Also, "the police were wailing on him" usually means someone
resisting arrest has police using their billy clubs on him, though not
screaming like banshees while doing so.
Bill King