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Real brass monkey weather, eh? (Brit.) [hum.] [sl.] - Arschkalt, was? [sl.]

17 replies   
Ist dies wirklich (Brit.) [hum.] [sl.]?
AuthorAMS (247184) 15 Jun 10, 15:20
This Briton has never heard it and wouldn't understand it either.
#1AuthorUKer15 Jun 10, 15:23
UKer might be betraying his/her comparative youth. I certainly know the expression (and variations on it) - though, without googling, I suspect it might be becoming outdated. It's not one that I personally use, for example.
I'd say all three tags are correct: (Brit.) [hum.] [sl.].
BTW, if you just search for "brass monkey" on LEO, there is a bit more on this (including one or two other threads): Dictionary: brass monkey
#2AuthorKinkyAfro (587241) 15 Jun 10, 15:40
Context/ examples
brass monkeys| brass monkey weather(British English, slang) if you say that it is brass monkeys or brass monkey weather, you mean that it is very cold weather
I can't see anything wrong with the tags either.
#3AuthorAnne(gb) (236994) 15 Jun 10, 17:18
The full phrase (that I've heard) is "Cold enough to freeze the balls off a brass monkey." This is a phrase from my Canadian parents.

Presumably they would get cold, freeze, and break off.
#4AuthorLonelobo (595126) 16 Jun 10, 03:27

Not only from Canadians Lonelobo, we used this expression as well (haven't heard of it for donkey's now though).

Have a nice day

#5AuthorKopExile16 Jun 10, 07:55
Maybe I'm betraying my age, but I would still use it occasionally...
#6AuthorSpike BE (535528) 16 Jun 10, 10:10
According to Lonelobo its usage is not restricted to BE. I.e. (Brit.) can be deleted?
#7AuthorAMS (247184) 16 Jun 10, 11:40
#7: (Brit.) can be deleted?

What exactly is meant by "Brit." though? (I'm never sure.) I think in practice it often includes English spoken in other countries such as Australia. But, AFAIK, Canadian English is often "AE".
Do Lonelobo's parents have British heritage perhaps? And where have you encountered the brass monkey expression, AMS?
(BTW, judging from his/her previous posts elsewhere on LEO, KopExile also appears to be British - in case anyone's wondering.)
#8AuthorKinkyAfro (587241) 16 Jun 10, 12:35
@KinkyAfro: A Canadian living in Florida used it. :-)
#9AuthorAMS (247184) 16 Jun 10, 13:04
My mother uses it and is from Victoria, which is a fairly British-influenced area, if she's to be believed. Don't know personally.
#10AuthorLonelobo (595126) 16 Jun 10, 16:42
Lonelobo, are you sure it was "brass monkey weather" you were hearing, or "cold enough to freeze the balls off a brass monkey"? The latter is in use in the U.S. too, AFAIK, though maybe not as common as elsewhere, or on the decline, or something. My parents certainly said it (one from the upper Midwest, one from the Southwest). Me, I can't think about it without hearing the Beastie Boys song in my head, but that's probably generational.

Here's some non-authoritative evidence for use in the U.S.: http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?ter...

Snopes argues against the nautical folk etymology here: http://www.snopes.com/language/stories/brass.asp

That said, "real brass monkey weather, eh?" to me still sounds like the "(Brit.)" tag should stay.

OT @ 5 -- Do you really say "for donkey's" as an abbreviation for "for donkey's years"? That's excellent, if so.
#11AuthorKatydid (US) (unpl.)16 Jun 10, 18:11
@ Katydid - it was definitely "Cold enough to freeze..." - I just assumed that they were derived from the same phrase, e.g. "for a donky's...)
#12AuthorLonelobo (595126) 16 Jun 10, 20:36
Context/ examples
Ich glaube, ich habe das "Why do we say that" rausgeschmissen, aber wenn ich mich recht erinnere, wurde da als Etymologie für "To freeze the balls of a brass monkey" abgegeben, dass der brass monkey ein "Gerät" zum Lagern von Kanonenkugel war. Zahlreiche Webfundstellen bezweifeln diese Herleitung.

Im Dictionary of Englisch Slang von 1972 ist nur die Bedeutung als very cold abgegeben, keine Etymologie.

Generell halte ich die Phrase (Etymologie hin oder her) für veraltet.

#13AuthorCJ unplugged16 Jun 10, 21:41
@ 12 - Right, but here "brass monkey weather" is itself a fixed phrase. Sure, I think Americans and Canadians alike would understand it as a play on "cold enough to freeze [whatever body part] off a brass monkey," but I think "brass monkey weather" by itself is not an established phrase in AE.
#14AuthorKatydid (US) (unpl.)16 Jun 10, 22:19
Do you really say "for donkey's" as an abbreviation for "for donkey's years"?

Yes. In fact, I think the original phrase was "donkey's ears", which was Cockney rhyming slang for "years", and the "donkey's years" version is just a later development*. In Cockney rhyming slang, the second word is often dropped, so "trouble" [and strife] means "wife", "plates" [of meat] means "feet", "apples" [and pears] means "stairs", etc.

*(I hope I didn't just make that up...)
#15Authordulcinea (238640) 16 Jun 10, 22:31
I somehow can't imagine that the person who said "real brass-monkey weather, eh?" in English would be similar in age, social class and education to the one saying "Arschkalt, was?" in German.

(just imagine a teenager looked up arschkalt in Leo and then came up with this English expression to his host parents in Croydon - isn't that a bit like the "it's raining cats and dogs" thing, that all Germans seem to get taught is the appropriate way of saying "es schüttet"?)
#16AuthorSpinatwachtel (341764) 17 Jun 10, 09:14

Yes we do, probably because (almost) everybody knows the abbreviated saying and what follows donkey's (years).

With living in Germany for quite some time you tend not to use the 'e' sayings as much as you would in GB. Unless of course you know a lot of brits in your area.

Have a nice day

#17AuthorKopExile17 Jun 10, 09:40
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