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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.)


  1. Man I used to love the television show "Doctor Who"

  2. Love, love, love a good pair of wellies and you'll also need a brolly if it really is raining. Those things you've pictured look more like riding boots though so here are real wellies;
    ok so they are really cute kids wellies but if they had them in my size, well...
    I missed the plot a bit on your last post soplease feel free to ignore my comment!!
    Now back to the Doctor... oh my word Marianne, he's not a alien he's a Time Lord :)

  3. There are so many adorable wellies out there. I've been thinking of getting a pair. Hubby hates when I call them wellies. He shouts, "They are galoshes!" But ever since we rented a pair in Scotland to pet reindeer I call them wellies. He can bloody well stuff it! :-)
    Love Dr. Who!

  4. Tracy - I only posted that photo as those are a pair of the actual Duke of Wellington's "Wellies". I had a nice photo of a bunch of Wellies, but I thought the original which started it all would be a lot more interesting. I know Wellies don't look like that - perhaps I shouldn't have assumed everyone else knew as well. Maybe I'll add a pair of conventional Wellies as well because of your comment. :)

    As far as the Doctor, yes, he is a Time Lord, but even he calls himself an alien once in a while as well...I didn't want people to think he was from Earth, therefore the "alien" comment. :)

  5. junebug - I went to buy a pair a few years ago (my blog above tells my adventure in doing so) and all they had were horrible ugly rubber boots...not nifty looking real Wellies.

    Maybe someone can set everyone straight. Real Wellies...you don't wear OVER your shoes, right? I always thought they were to be worn as you do shoes. Galoshes you typically wear OVER your shoes to protect them. Anyone?

    Who is your favourite Doctor, everyone?

    Mine go in this order: I still like Tom Baker best as he's the Doctor I grew up with and I always will love that guy. Then David Tennant (great Doctor) - and Matt Smith isn't bad. He had some big shoes to fill there (or should I say "Wellies") because Tennant was loved so much. There was a long period "pre" and "after" Tom Baker I never watched...but there were a couple Doctors after Tom Baker which were lousy if you ask me, so I stopped watching the show until much later.

  6. Meleah - You should watch it again - the writing is superb most times. Steven Moffat is great. Love the episodes he writes.

  7. Mariann, this is magnificent stuff. Great idea for a blog!

  8. As a matter of fact, I like this so much, I've given it a link of its own at the top of my page for now. So, the pressure is on, love!

    (I'll drop the link lower on the sidebar in a couple of weeks, so make hay while my sun shines.)

    (That is, of course, if the world doesn't end tomorrow.)

  9. Let's see if the post gets posted this time...

    Thank you so much, Sully.

    I have a couple words from "Top Gear" raring to go...both of which I had never ever heard before (and I watch a lot of British shows).

    I've also been out of commission the past few days because of my migraine - it makes me type things totally wonky and it's too much work to sort it all out and it pretty much looks like it was written by my cat if I leave it the way it is. Hopefully it will less screwed up today.

  10. Favorite doctor mmmm that's a very tough question; I have a penchant for Chris Eccleston he brought the Doctor back but only did one season (I was at drama school with him and he's a lovely bloke so I am biased of course). Tom Baker was fun and I loved the scarf but David Tennant had so much heart, Jon Pertwee was very good but Sylvester McCoy was the worst although Paul McGann was a close second i think its comes from being a Mcsomething...
    Btw I am a terrible teaser Mariann please don't take me too seriously, infact I'm a chuffing eejit and a bit of a wazzock some days :)

  11. Len said give it some welly on Dancing With the Stars (N AMERICAN version)

  12. Here's one for you. Duking. Or to Duke or be duked. not what you think. The First Duke was wildly in love with his wife. coming home from battle, he was so overjoyed to see her and SO eager to celebrate his homecoming that the boots did not come off. thus, duking.