Date: Thu, 11 Dec 1997 09:53:28 -0600
From: wachal robert s rwachal[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]BLUE.WEEG.UIOWA.EDU
Subject: Re: How cold was it?
The origin of the brass monkey phrase is not entirely relevant anymore
than the fact that "transpire" originally had something to do with plant
When I was gowing up in Fargo ND many years ago, we called our region the
"Nortwest" in a misguided attempt to placate the geographical ignorance of
easterners who labelled us that way. One night when temperatures were
forecast to drop below minus 20, a radio announcer began his 10 o'clock
broadcast with "People all over the Northwest are taking in their brass
monkeys tonight." Everone knew the expression "Cold enought to freexe
the balls/nuts off a brass monkey." We also knew "Cold enough to freeze a
well-diggers nuts," which was euphemized as "Cold enough to freeze a
So Barbara Harris, you were right the first time.
On Wed, 10 Dec 1997, Norman Roberts wrote:
My understanding of the phrase, "It's cold enough to freeze the balls on a
brass monkey" is that the monkey is a triangle made of brass upon which cannon
balls were stacked. When it got cold enough, the balls would freeze on the
Nothing to do with the little guy's anatomy.
David R. Carlson
However, in the frozen north, at least when I lived there long ago, there
was the expression "cold enough to freeze the balls OFF a brass monkey."
As I recall, it was also "colder than a well digger's arse in January."
And here in Hawaii right now it is "long sleeve days and two blanket nights."