cap and feather days

< Previous | Next >

Silver

Senior Member
Chinese,Cantonese,Sichuan dialect
Hi,

My teacher said the term means "childhood", and I couldn't look it up in dictionaries. Google shows around 2,000 results and I wonder if it means "childhood" to you?


Thanks a lot
 
  • Hermione Golightly

    Senior Member
    British English
    It means absolutely nothing to me Silver, but I might be the only person in the English speaking universe who has never heard the expression. We'll soon see.
    :)
    Hermione
     

    Cagey

    post mod (English Only / Latin)
    English - US
    That makes two of us who haven't heard it.

    I see that it is included in Dictionary of Phrase and Fable.by E. Cobham Brewer (1898).
    The time of childhood.
    “Here I was got into the scenes of my cap-and-feather days.”—Cobbett.
    I suspect that it has fallen out of favor since then.
     

    boozer

    Senior Member
    Bulgarian
    Is this the same teacher who teaches you all kinds of English proverbs, Silver? :)

    If I had to make a really wild guess at the phrase, I would say it meant the days in which you wore feathers, playing Indians, i.e. your childhood indeed (ahich may be totally wrong). It also appears on a website called fromoldbooks :D and this is written right under the entry provided by Cagey:
    Entry taken from Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, edited by the Rev. E. Cobham Brewer, LL.D. and revised in 1895. (Pay attention to the year :) )

    http://www.fromoldbooks.org/Brewer-DictionaryOfPhraseAndFable/c/cap-and-feather-days.html
     

    se16teddy

    Senior Member
    English - England
    I am not familiar with cap and feather days either. I am familiar with the expression a feather in his cap, which is a metaphor for an achievement, particularly a publicly visible achievement that earns admiration. I suppose that the idea is that you might celebrate a success by putting a feather in your cap.
     

    boozer

    Senior Member
    Bulgarian
    ... a feather in his cap, which is a metaphor for an achievement, particularly a publicly visible achievement that earns admiration. I suppose that the idea is that you might celebrate a success by putting a feather in your cap.
    Ha, that's an excellent idea, se16teddy. :) Of course, I've known that phrase ever since I heard Elton John's song "I don't wanna go on with you like that", where it means something you proudly possess and put up on public display.
    http://www.metrolyrics.com/i-dont-wanna-go-on-with-you-like-that-lyrics-elton-john.html
    But somehow it never occurred to me "a feather in your cap" could be related to our phrase here. And, quite frankly, I still don't see how one's achievement or possession should bring an association with "childhood" :(
     

    panjandrum

    Lapsed Moderator
    English-Ireland (top end)
    ...
    Google shows around 2,000 results and I wonder if it means "childhood" to you?
    ...
    Google shows?
    ... Page 13 of 124 results

    Please do not quote Google counts without taking proper care to look through some of the results.

    Of those 124 results, almost all are from non-English sites so I can't be sure what the references are, but they appear to be Chinese language sites - no doubt including this expression as another on the list of "typical English expressions".
    There are a number of references to Cobbett, the only example of the expression in real use by an English person that I was able to find:
    1822 W. Cobbett Rural Rides in Weekly Reg. 5 Jan. 1607 Here I was got into the scenes of my cap-and-feather days!
    OED
    From this you might conclude that the expression was used once, in 1822, and quoted many times.

    I suggest that it would be useful to do this kind of investigation before posting a question. It took me less than a minute to glance through those 124 Google examples.
     

    Silver

    Senior Member
    Chinese,Cantonese,Sichuan dialect
    Hi, Panj, long time no see. You're as stern as it ever was.

    But I really want to show you the "Google" here showed me around 2000 results.

    So, if you think it is convenient, I can show you the screen grab.
     

    George French

    Senior Member
    English - UK
    http://www.oedilf.net/db/Lim.php?Word=and&Start=330
    Cap-and-feather days! Oh, how I yearn
    For those days that will never return—
    Carefree days without end
    With my close childhood friend
    Whom I cradle today in this urn.
    There is some evidence (a Google search) that it is the carefree days of youth.

    A newbie for my ancient mind. Silverobama, your teacher does pull some really wierd English items out of his hat. Ask him why!!!! Who is supposed to use/understand them????

    GF..
     

    Myridon

    Senior Member
    English - US
    Hi, Panj, long time no see. You're as stern as it ever was.

    But I really want to show you the "Google" here showed me around 2000 results.

    So, if you think it is convenient, I can show you the screen grab.
    On the first page, it often shows you a number which is a guess. Page forward through your 2,000 results and you will see that it will stop before 150 results. It is probably not very noticeable to you, but I start seeing sites in Chinese characters on the second page and by the sixth page almost all the sites are in Chinese.
    Another sign that a phrase is not popular is that most of the hits on the first page are to reference works and not to sites using the phrase normally.
    It's also helpful to click on "News" and you'll see that it's not used in any recent newspapers.
     
    < Previous | Next >
    Top