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

well-diggers knuckels."

So Barbara Harris, you were right the first time.

Bob Wachal

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

brass monkey.

Nothing to do with the little guy's anatomy.

David R. Carlson

Springfield College

Springfield MA

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."

Aloha e