Canada Why the expression "to have a hair in the hand" does not make any sense

20:40  30 october  2020
20:40  30 october  2020 Source:   europe1.fr

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Dans l'émission d'Europe 1, © Supplied by Europe 1 In the program of Europe 1, "Historically yours", Stéphane Bern looks at the roots of a expression of everyday life. On Friday, he is interested in a formula that may be perfect for your weekend schedule: "have a hair in your hand".

Stéphane Bern offers every day, in Historically yours with Matthieu Noël , to discover these expressions that we use every day without necessarily knowing their origin. Friday, the host explains to us where comes "to have a hair in the hand", but also its equivalents in several foreign languages.

It is an expression which made gallop the imagination of many children when they heard it for the first time: "to have a hair in the hand". Without being able to really trace the exact origin, we can find traces of it as early as the 19th century. It would seem that it was even preceded by a more bushy form, "to have hair in the hand".

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This formula, which is reserved for lazy people, means that their sickly inactivity has allowed a hair to grow in the palm of their hand without any friction preventing it. Today, hyperbolic forms have appeared to refer to very, very lazy people, such as "having a baobab in your hand", "having a palm tree in your hand", and even "having a cow's tail in your hand" .

Note that, paradoxically, those who have a hair in the tongue speak as much as those who do not.

>> Find the programs of Matthieu Noël and Stéphane Bern in replay and in podcast here

A double physiological aberration

However, this image, certainly funny, is not very realistic. The human body is in fact entirely covered with hair follicles, the small hair plant located under the skin, with the exception of two areas: the soles of the feet and ... the palms of the hands. Having a hair in your hand is physically impossible.

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In addition, scientists believe that in evolution, humans have kept hair in certain areas for two reasons. The first is to protect sensitive areas of the body (the eyebrows and eyelashes protect the eyes from dust and water, for example), the second is to act as a "ball bearing" in areas of friction of the skin. (armpits, thighs, etc.). The absence of manual activity could not therefore promote the growth of a hair in the hand, the functioning of our body and our evolution according to the opposite reasoning.

A very French formula

However, this expression allows us to designate a lazy person, literally "the one who does nothing", "the one who does nothing". We are far from the pleasant Italian idleness, which however has exactly the same composition.

In England we use a nice expression: "to be work shy". It means having a certain shyness towards work. Not sure that this passes as an excuse to his supervisor. In Greece, we say "to be the boss at the inn of the lazy", and in Spain "ser mas flojo que una cortina", translate to be softer than a curtain.

Lovers of laziness and the French language can always work to remember this quote from Jules Renard: "Laziness is nothing more than the habit of resting before you get tired."

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