Saturday, February 23, 2008

Malapropism alert! -- [UPDATE! -- Not!]

It has come to my attention that some few lefty bloggers have been writing "going to the mattresses" when they mean to say that someone is doggedly contesting something.

That's just silly.

The idiom they are searching for is "going to the mat", which is a metaphor for putting one's body and reputation on the line in a wrestling contest.

"Going to the mattresses" would seem to refer to having several nice naps, or possibly having sex in more than one bed.

Those would be useful idioms sometimes, but I don't think they're intended.


A kind commenter has clued me that I'm wrong on this. Apparently "go to the mattresses" is of Italian origin, and is much older (though less well known) than the mat version. I looked it up and darned if it isn't so. They even said it in The Godfather.

I do hate to spout off like that and be proven wrong, but (sad to say) I'm getting used to it.

Actually, I think what they are saying is fine. "Going to the mattresses" is an old Mafia expression that refers to a major organized crime war. It was an expression I used to hear growing up in Upstate NY. It may be rooted in the expression you mention, but it has taken on a life of its own.
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