- skip - Brewer’s

Coals

.

To blow the coals. To fan dissensions, to excite smouldering animosity into open hostility, as dull coals are blown into a blaze by a pair of bellows.

To carry coals. To be put upon. “Gregory, my word, weʹll not carry coals”—i.e. submit to be “put upon” (Romeo and Juliet, i. 1). So in Every Man out of his Humour, “Here comes one that will carry coals, ergo, will hold my dog.” The allusion is to the dirty, laborious occupation of coal-carriers. Gifford, in his edition of Ben Jonson, says, “Of these (i.e. scullions, etc.), the most forlorn wretches were selected to carry coals to the kitchen, halls, etc.” (See page 141, col. 1, Blackguard.)

To carry coals to Newcastle. To do what is superfluous. As Newcastle is the great coal-field, it would be quite superfluous to carry coals thither. The French say, “Porter de lʹeau à la rivière” (to carry water to the river). There are numerous Latin equivalents as, “To carry wood to the forests,” “Poma Alcinoo dare” (See Alcinoo); “Noctuas Athenas ferre” (See Noctuas), “Crocum in Ciliciam ferre” (See Crocum).

To haul over the coals. To bring to task for shortcomings, to scold. At one time the Jews were “bled” whenever the kings or barons wanted money, and one very common torture, if they resisted, was to haul them over the coals of a slow fire, to give them a “roasting.” (See Ivanhoe, where Front-de-Bœuf threatens to haul Isaac over the coals.)

previous entry · index · next entry

ABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZ

Entry taken from Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, edited by the Rev. E. Cobham Brewer, LL.D. and revised in 1895.

previous entry · index · next entry

Cneph
Cnidian Venus (The)
Co
Coach (A)
Coach-and-four (or Coach-and-six)
Coach-and-pair (A)
Coach Away
Coached Up
Coal
Coal Brandy
Coals
Coals of Fire
Coaling
Coalition Government
Coast Clear
Coast Men of Attica
Coasting Lead (A)
Coasting Trade
Coasting Waiter
Coat
Coat of Arms

Linking here:

Call (To)
Carry Coals
Crocum in Ciliciam ferre