The idiom tongue-in-cheek refers to a humorous or sarcastic statement expressed in a mock serious manner.
An idiom is a phrase or an expression that has a figurative, or sometimes literal, meaning. Categorized as formulaic language, an idiom's figurative meaning is different from the literal meaning. There are thousands of idioms, occurring frequently in all languages. It is estimated that there are at least twenty-five thousand idiomatic expressions in the English language.
The phrase originally expressed contempt, but by 1842 had acquired its modern meaning.Early users of the phrase include Sir Walter Scott in his 1828 The Fair Maid of Perth .
The Fair Maid of Perth is a novel by Sir Walter Scott. Inspired by the strange, but historically true, story of the Battle of the North Inch, it is set in Perth – known at the time as Saint John's Toun, i.e. John's Town) and other parts of Scotland around 1400.
The physical act of putting one's tongue into one's cheek once signified contempt.For example, in Tobias Smollett's The Adventures of Roderick Random, which was published in 1748, the eponymous hero takes a coach to Bath, and on the way, apprehends a highwayman. This provokes an altercation with a less brave passenger:
The tongue is a muscular organ in the mouth of most vertebrates that manipulates food for mastication, and is used in the act of swallowing. It is of importance in the digestive system and is the primary organ of taste in the gustatory system. The tongue's upper surface (dorsum) is covered by taste buds housed in numerous lingual papillae. It is sensitive and kept moist by saliva, and is richly supplied with nerves and blood vessels. The tongue also serves as a natural means of cleaning the teeth. A major function of the tongue is the enabling of speech in humans and vocalization in other animals.
The cheeks constitute the area of the face below the eyes and between the nose and the left or right ear. "Buccal" means relating to the cheek. In humans, the region is innervated by the buccal nerve. The area between the inside of the cheek and the teeth and gums is called the vestibule or buccal pouch or buccal cavity and forms part of the mouth. In other animals the cheeks may also be referred to as jowls.
Tobias George Smollett was a Scottish poet and author. He was best known for his picaresque novels, such as The Adventures of Roderick Random (1748) and The Adventures of Peregrine Pickle (1751), and The Expedition of Humphry Clinker (1771), which influenced later novelists including Charles Dickens. His novels were amended liberally by printers; a definitive edition of each of his works was edited by Dr O. M. Brack, Jr, to correct variants.
He looked back and pronounced with a faltering voice, 'O! 'tis very well—damn my blood! I shall find a time.' I signified my contempt of him by thrusting my tongue in my cheek, which humbled him so much, that he scarce swore another oath aloud during the whole journey.
The phrase appears in 1828 in The Fair Maid of Perth by Sir Walter Scott:
The fellow who gave this all-hail thrust his tongue in his cheek to some scapegraces like himself.
It's not clear how Scott intended readers to understand the phrase.The more modern ironic sense appears in the 1842 poem "The Ingoldsby Legends" by the English clergyman Richard Barham, in which a Frenchman inspects a watch and cries:
'Superbe! Magnifique!' / (with his tongue in his cheek)
The ironic usage originates with the idea of suppressed mirth—biting one's tongue to prevent an outburst of laughter.
Sir Walter Scott, 1st Baronet was a Scottish historical novelist, poet, playwright and historian. Many of his works remain classics of both English-language literature and of Scottish literature. Famous titles include Ivanhoe, Rob Roy, Old Mortality, The Lady of the Lake, Waverley, The Heart of Midlothian and The Bride of Lammermoor.
Perth is a city in central Scotland, on the banks of the River Tay. It is the administrative centre of Perth and Kinross council area and the historic county town of Perthshire. It has a population of about 47,180. Perth has been known as The Fair City since the publication of the story Fair Maid of Perth by Scottish writer Sir Walter Scott in 1828. During the later medieval period the city was also called St John's Toun or Saint Johnstoun by its inhabitants in reference to the main church dedicated to St John the Baptist. This name is preserved by the city's football teams, St Johnstone F.C.
This article presents lists of the literary events and publications in 1760.
The Adventures of Peregrine Pickle is a picaresque novel by the Scottish author Tobias Smollett (1721–1771), first published in 1751 and revised and published again in 1758. It tells the story of an egotistical man who experiences luck and misfortunes in the height of 18th-century European society.
Raphe has several different meanings in science.
The Quarterly Review was a literary and political periodical founded in March 1809 by the well known London publishing house John Murray. It ceased publication in 1967.
James Maidment was a British antiquary and collector. He passed through Edinburgh University to the Scottish bar, and was chief authority on genealogical cases.
The Adventures of Roderick Random is a picaresque novel by Tobias Smollett, first published in 1748. It is partially based on Smollett's experience as a naval-surgeon’s mate in the Royal Navy, especially during the Battle of Cartagena de Indias in 1741. In the preface, Smollett acknowledges the connections of his novel to the two satirical picaresque works he translated into English: Cervantes’ Don Quixote (1605–15) and Alain-René Lesage’s Gil Blas (1715–47)
Events from the year 1828 in the United Kingdom.
The History and Adventures of an Atom, by Tobias Smollett, is a novel that savagely satirises English politics during the Seven Years' War.
The Battle of the North Inch was a staged battle between the Chattan Confederation and the "Clan Kay" in September 1396. Thirty men were selected to represent each side in front of spectators that included King Robert III of Scotland and his court, on land that is now the North Inch park in Perth, Scotland.
The Adventures of Ferdinand Count Fathom is a novel by Tobias Smollett first published in 1753. It was Smollett's third novel and met with less success than his two previous more picaresque tales. The central character is a villainous dandy who cheats, swindles and philanders his way across Europe and England with little concern for the law or the welfare of others. The son of an equally disreputable mother, Smollett himself comments that "Fathom justifies the proverb, 'What's bred in the bone will never come out of the flesh". Sir Walter Scott commented that the novel paints a "complete picture of human depravity"
Waterloo is a small hamlet in Perth and Kinross, Scotland approximately 1/2 a mile to a mile north of Bankfoot on the old A9.
Professor James G. Basker is an American scholar, writer, and educational leader.
The Journal of Sir Walter Scott is a diary which the novelist and poet Walter Scott kept between 1825 and 1832. It records the financial disaster which overtook him at the beginning of 1826, and the efforts he made over the next seven years to pay off his debts by writing bestselling books. Since its first complete publication in 1890 it has attracted high praise, being considered by many critics one of the finest diaries in the language.
The Fair Maid of Perth is a 1923 British silent adventure film directed by Edwin Greenwood and starring Russell Thorndike, Sylvia Caine and Lionel d'Aragon. It was made at Beaconsfield Studios, and based on the 1828 novel The Fair Maid of Perth by Sir Walter Scott.
Events from the year 1828 in Scotland.
... Novelist Sir Walter Scott used 'tongue in cheek' as early as 1828 in 'The Fair Maid of Perth,' but it isn't clear what he meant.