- Mariann Simms
- Along with my daily duties as founder and head writer of HumorMeOnline.com, in 2003, I took the Grand Prize in the Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest (also known as the "It Was a Dark and Stormy Night" competition). I've also been a contributor to "The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson" and the web's "The Late Show with David Letterman". I also occupy my time writing three blogs, "Blogged Down at the Moment", "Brit Word of the Day" and "Production Numbers"...and my off-time is spent contemplating in an "on again/off again" fashion...my feable attempts at writing any one of a dozen books. I would love to write professionally one day...and by that I mean "actually get a paycheck".
Sunday, May 15, 2011
Give It Some Welly (Heard on "Doctor Who")
During the time period of 00:02:35,240 to 00:02:38,760 in the newest episode of "Doctor Who", The Doctor's Wife, the Doctor remarks, "Right now I'm burning up TARDIS rooms to give us some welly."
How do I know exactly when he says it?
It's remarkable the things you can find on Google when you go poking about. This time around it was the exact time annotations to go along with the dialogue for the "Closed Captioning" device.
And, considering those of you out there who have seen or have a tiny inkling about the "Doctor Who" show, know he's a time travelling alien from the planet Gallifrey with a blue "Police Public Call Box" (originally debuted in Britain in 1929 - the box, not the show; the show debuted on 23 November 1963) known as the TARDIS (Time And Relative Dimension In Space) which is bigger in the inside than on the outside...which he...well, travels through space and time in.
I thought it was interesting enough to point out the fact that I found the exact time stamp for him saying that sentence...considering he travels THROUGH time. Oh well, perhaps again, as is usually the case, it's more interesting to me in my head than when I type it up.
In this week's episode,"The Doctor" was trying to get more power out of his time machine. For those of you who are totally lost, think of "Star Trek's" Kirk asking for more power...and Scotty saying, "I'm giving her all she's got, Captain!"
If you've never seen either of those two shows, you are probably the only one in the world and you should probably contact the Guinness World Records people to let them know.
But back to the point of all this: The phrase (not a word again, sorry) I decided upon to write about today is typically spoken as "give it some welly".
I was all over Google and in several of my etymology and dictionary books I have here at home (especially this one I wrote a blog about...which can be found here) last nite and I found out some interesting things.
Several sites state the phrase was possibly initially coined by someone egging on a racing car driver or a footballer, telling them to "give it some welly". The first would be described as the US equivalent "pedal to the metal" regarding "going faster" by pushing a car's accelerator pedal down as far as it can go...and the second would be "give it a good hard kick". So, in essence, it's only the foot we are specifically referring to in those two instances (more to come to link this up below).
Now, the first time I ever heard the word "Wellies" was on a British comedy show called "Good Neighbors" (minus the "u" in "neighbours" because Americans have an aversion of the added "u") which our PBS (Public Broadcasting Station) aired back in the late 1970s. The show's title in Britain was "The Good Life"...they had to change it in the US when they aired it here as there was a show on television with that name already...and you couldn't have two.
To make a short blog even longer...when one of the characters on that show mentioned "Wellies"...well, you figured it...even as a child, I ran to get the dictionary. This was before Google and before you could pause television, so I probably just wrote the word down and looked it up after...and didn't actually "run".
For those who aren't familiar with the term, "Wellies" are basically easily put on rubber boots you can stomp around in the mud, muck and rain with and are very popular in Britain...and as such, everyone there probably knows what you mean when you say it. Try asking for a pair here in Alabama, which I did about three years ago, and watch the hilarity ensue.
"Wellies" are short for "Wellingtons"...which are boots made fashion-famous by the Duke himself...no, not John Wayne...whose real name was actually "Marion Morrison". I'm referring to the very first Duke of Wellington; or to be precise, Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington - who lived 1769–1852. While pants styles were changing (going from knee breeches to full trousers), the Duke found it considerably difficult to go from battle to fancy dress wearing the one style of boot...and decided he'd enlist his shoemaker to transform his fancy tasseled Hessian boots to something less ostentatious...and easily able to wear with the now longer trousers. So, with a removal of a tassel (or two) and the re-cutting/refitting of the shin parts...the Duke was presented with a whole new type of boot, which he undoubtedly loved because aristocracy from here to there and back again just HAD to have the same thing. Fashion trends were indeed made back in 1817...as Wellington set one and the name has stuck...to this day.
Now, after that short history lesson, we can draw the conclusion that giving something a great powerful kick or pressing their foot down hard to accelerate would conjure up feet, which conjures up boots...and boots conjure up "Wellies". It was just a matter of time before someone would specifically link them all together...and then a little more time before the phrase "give it some welly" meant "using some extreme force or muscle" for anything you're really, really trying to do -- even if it's making a fictitious time machine gain more power.
According to the fantastic website, World Wide Words, the phrase was first put into usage in the 1970s and then later popularized by comedian/actor Billy Connolly.
And when my daughter plays soccer this coming season, I'm going to be on the sidelines yelling it as loudly as I can...hoping it catches on like wildfire and everyone starts using it. Sure, I might get odd looks and the occasional question at first, but, by golly, for what it's worth, I'm going to really "give it some welly".
(In case you are wondering...that's a photo of Wellington's actual "Wellington Boots" above.)