Thursday, 2 December 2010

Fed up

Fed up Meaning To have had more than enough of something or someone, or to be bored with or tired of the same.

Origin 'Fed up' conveys a feeling of being listless and somewhat annoyed, rather like the later English RAF/Army slang expressions 'browned off', 'brassed off' and 'cheesed off'. It has a different origin from those obscure military expressions, as it has a literal meaning, which is 'satiated with food'.

Sadly, we often forget the wisdom of the old English proverb 'enough is as good as a feast' and, having already eaten our fill, eat just that little bit more. The unpleasant feeling that comes from eating more than is good for us is what is meant by 'fed up'.

The expression dates from the early 19th century, when the languid aristocracy were compared to farm animals that were force fed to make them plump for market.

This piece, from the English newspaper The Middlesex Courier, February 1832, recounts a court case in which it was argued that the Duke of Bourbon couldn't have hanged himself, being unable either to stand on a chair or tie a knot. The lawyer referred to 'the awkwardness of Princes', saying: Every thing being done for them, they never learn to do anything; they are fed up, as it were, in a stall to exist and not to act. It is rare to find a Prince who can walk decently across a room.

In our own time, the best example of being 'fed up' is in the black comedy Monty Python's The Meaning of Life, 1983, in which the bad-tempered and satiated Monsieur Creosote, played by Terry Jones, is induced to eat just 'one more wafer-thin mint', before exploding.

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