Nose to the Grindstone

It occurred to me that I’ve been so busy lately with edits, reviewing manuscripts and signing panties (he he he) that I haven’t had time to write. However, that doesn’t mean I haven’t had my nose to the tablet. Yup, I just made that saying up because that’s what I do. I mash words together and make up new idioms. It’s not that I haven’t done any new writing, just not a lot.  Lately, I ‘ve been writing the semash (mash-up of two different series). Dani will get her happily ever after. I promise.


Here’s the thing,  I’m known for doing research on the origins of idioms, words, or just about anything I’m currently writing about. So, I thought I would give you the origin of, nose to the grindstone, not nose to the tablet! Originally, because I often include these little nuggets in my stories, I thought I had already written about this idiom in my novel, Out of This World. I didn’t. That particular story simply begged for a plethora of idioms. If you’ve read it, you know why.


Anyway, back to where does the saying, nose to the grindstone, come from. Believe it or not, there are two different explanations. Although, the one I’ve always thought was accurate seems to be the one that most people recognize as the true origin of the phrase.

nose to grindstone

The first one refers to the supposed habit of millers who checked that their stones used for grinding cereal weren’t overheating by putting their nose to the stone in order to smell any burning. Skepticism over this explanation hovers around the fact that the stones used for grinding were called millstones, not grindstones. The more widely accepted explanation comes from the practice of knife grinders who needed to bend over their stone or even to lie flat on their fronts, to sharpen their blades in order to hold the knives against the stone. Their noses were quite literally on the grindstone.


Since I simply cannot let go of the word moist, here’s another tidbit for everyone:  The word moist has its origins in the late fourteenth century from an old French word, moiste, meaning damp, wet, or soaked. From the thirteenth century, there are also some Vulgar Latin origins (go figure) from the word muscidus, meaning moldy or wet. Go ahead and ponder that for a spell.


I find this stuff absolutely fascinating and will often sneak in bits and pieces about the origin of certain sayings or words. Recently, I researched the origin of female magicians. I even included the legend of Merlin and how a woman bested him. If you’d like to learn about the early female magicians, pick up a copy of The Book Addict. I’ve included some truly delightful history.


Other stories weave in all kinds of useless information. So check my books out!


US  -The Book Addict

Australia – The Book Addict

UK – The Book Addict

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2 thoughts on “Nose to the Grindstone

  1. You are full of explanation of word origins. I find them very interesting. Of course you have a gift of putting words together to make great stories. Keep up the good work. This reader enjoys them. ✌️

    Liked by 1 person

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