Would some BE speakers comment on whether the phrase is used in BE? #5
Thanks for jemanden fertigmachen
. Can that be used for both types of clock cleaning? With or without physical blows?
And the same question re #6 jemandem eins auf die Glocke geben
, although I suspect that one may only be valid for an actual physical beating.
For those interested in the origin of this English idiom, William Safire, New York Times columnist, had two articles about it. One appeared in 2002, the second in 2006.
In the earlier article, published 03 Feb 2002 and titled On Language
, he discusses the origin of to clean someone's clock
, finding its earliest appearance in print in 1959. He speculates that the idiom may be related to to fix someone's clock
which supposedly did mean to punch someone in the face.
Four years later, though, the picture has changed somewhat and he seems less certain of the origin. In the 12 Mar 2006 article entitled Clean Your Clock
, he notes the idiom first appeared in a 1908 sports report and then says "this mechanical metaphor has been kicking around for at least nearly a century, most often in sports lingo, now more in combative political language…. And it is being spread around the world." Then he asks "Why does Old Slang stay with us long after the basis for the metaphor has staggered off into the mists of meaning? Perhaps alliteration helps give it linguistic longevity; clean your clock comes readily to the tongue though it has no semantic relation to 'wash your face.'"
Here are the links in plain text: