Week of November 8, 2020

Bone Up On Facts


“Make no bones about it,” meaning to speak frankly or accept a thing without objection, is an idiom which has origins in eating, with references back to the 15th Century. Finding a bone in your soup or other food obviously slows the process of eating it, and without this hindrance you can eat it without problems.


“Got a bone to pick” with somebody? You probably have an issue to discuss or believe that they’ve wronged you. This idiom goes back to about the 16th Century and refers to a dog gnawing on, or picking clean, all meat from a bone.


If you did find a bone in your soup, however, you could throw this bone or some other table scrap to a begging dog to temporarily appease it. This is the origin of “throw (him/her) a bone.”


Despite common slang, the human male’s erection involves no bones, but is a purely hydraulic process driven by blood flow. Many other male mammals, however, achieve erections with a bone called a “baculum,” including gorillas, chimps, bears, wolves, and dogs.


Despite their size, babies have about 94 more bones than their parents. This is because as babies grow, many of these little bones fuse together, such that they go from about 300 bones at birth to 206 as an adult.


Your “funny bone” isn’t a bone at all, but a nerve which runs from your neck to hand. It’s called the ulnar nerve, and in the elbow it particularly unshielded, surrounded only by fat and skin. This makes it vulnerable to impact and the pain, numbness and tingling your hand feels.


Your tailbone, aka your coccyx, is one of a handful of vestigial structures on the human body, this one from when our prehistoric ancestors had tails.