Thursday, January 24, 2013

Milk Toast?

Sometimes you hear a word or phrase and it just passes by you because you aren’t familiar with it; you understand the gist of the word and that’s enough. So you don’t question what it means and quickly forget about its existence. But every so often a strange word or phrase will catch you off guard and you can’t let it go. Your curiosity wants to know what it all means.

Idioms, phrases and vocabulary are often a reflection of a certain region or specific time period, so if you’re not of that particular sphere, you may feel like people are speaking another language. I had that moment not long ago when my mom suddenly used the word “milquetoast” and I thought she was saying “milk toast” and I was quite confused (why was she bringing up food all of a sudden?).

She explained that it referred to a timid person. And I asked since when? Because I wasn’t familiar with it. So of course we then we googled it, and it’s an old term from the 1920’s that’s based upon a comic strip called a Timid Soul; the character, Caspar Milquetoast was bland—just like milk toast. So I learned something new (although I don’t know how useful that bit of knowledge will ever be…). But I’m sure I’ll notice this particular word now. If I’m watching an old black and white movie and someone describes another person as “milquetoast” I’ll know exactly what an insult that truly is.

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