Weird expressions

“They live in a small town and tongues are beginning to wag.”
–Longman English-Japanese Dictionary

What are the tongues wagging about? Is there a local wit who wags most?

I didn’t know this expression, quite interesting.

I have never heard this expression with the word tongue. I have heard quite often the term ‘chin wag’, which just means ‘a chat’.

Wagging tongues abounded in 19th centuries novels, you are clearly too young to have been exposed to them!


Oh dear, that means I’m really old!

@Yutaka - Interestingly, James Heisig from “Remembering the Kanji” fame, gives “tongue wagging in the mouth” for 日 as one of its primitives (in addition to sun or day). He says this meaning derives from the rarer Kanji 曰 meaning something like “sayeth”. (For those who can’t tell the difference, the latter is wider & the middle stroke doesn’t touch the right side)

I couldn’t help but remember this when I heard the term “wagging tongues”.



I see. 口 is a mouth, and 曰 is ‘said’.
There is a tongue in the mouth.
日 comes from the sun.

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Die rechte reichte mir die Rechte.

Möge die Rechte recht lange nicht links liegen gelassen werden!

Maybe you have this in other languages too…

In Finnish, if there is a lot of something, we say, there is something enough even for sheep fodder (originally food, perhaps seal fat, which was the staple before, and in the early days of, agriculture).

For example:
Tuolla on ruotsalaisia turisteja vaikka lampaille syöttää. = There are Swedish tourists enough even for sheep fodder.


Die Pflanze ist ein Tier, dessen Magen in der Wurzel, das Tier dagegen eine Pflanze, deren Wurzel im Magen liegt.