Donate SIGN UP

Go greased lightin'...

01:00 Thu 24th Jan 2002 |

Q. ...You're burning up the quarter mile

A. Etc. Grease was one of the biggest hits of stage and screen of the 1970s - and it still won't go away. Even if you hated the film, you can probably still hum a couple of the hits. A story of dodgy greasers and nice girls, the original stage play was somewhat harder than the cleaned-up film version, but somwhow it touched the hearts of millions of teenagers of all ages.

Q. Greasers

A. Rockers with a penchant for slippery hair products and oily cars and motorbikes.

Q. What about elbow grease

A. Vigorous physical work. So if someone tells you to put some elbow grease into something, they're suggesting you put in a little more effort. If, however, someone asks you to go out and buy them a tin of elbow grease, you'd be justified in feeling patronised. It's one of those amusing - and rather hackneyed - little pranks people will try on the greenhorn in a job. Something like being told to go out and buy some striped paint. Ho, ho!

Q. And other greasy things


Greased lightning: not just the song, it's also a well-established phrase for describing something moving very, very fast - for obvious reasons

Grease monkey: a mechanic

Grease somebody's palm: to bribe them

Q. Grease may be the word, but what exactly is it

A. It's lovely stuff. Traditionally it was - and still often is - made from animal products, though synthetic greases are becoming increasingly common. Greases made from animal fats are categorised as follows: white grease is made from inedible pig fat; yellow grease is made from darker parts of the pig; brown grease contains beef and mutton fats as well as pig fats; fleshing grease is the fatty material trimmed from hides and pelts; bone grease, hide grease and garbage grease are named according to their origin. Mmmm.

Synthetic and mineral greases are made of a thickening agent - often soap - dispersed in a liquid lubricant such as petroleum oil.

For more on Phrases & Sayings click here

By Simon Smith

Do you have a question about Phrases & Sayings?