Thursday, December 16, 2010

Layovers to Catch Meddlers?

As a small child when I asked my mother, What is that?", she would often reply, "Layovers to catch meddlers." As an adult I catch myself saying the same thing to my kids and they want to know what it means. What is the origin of this phrase?  What does it mean? Thankfully I can look it up and this is what I found:

"Morris Dictionary of Word and Phrase Origins" by William and Mary Morris states: "layover to catch meddlers is a dialect variant of a very common answer used by adults to evade a direct answer to children's questions. Instead of saying to the child. 'It's none of your business,' he would be told, 'It's layover to catch meddlers.' So what's a layover? you ask. A layover is a trap for bears or other unwary animals, made of a pit covered with boughs. And a meddler, of course, is a person who interferes in other people's business. The phrase was recorded in Eastern and Southern states as long ago as 1890. It also appears as larovers for meddlers, layos to catch meddlers and even as a single word, larofamedlers."
Wow what an interesting phrase!


Chrissy said...

Interesting...I've never heard this one before.

Classic said...

My Dad said that to my brother and I growing up all the time and he said his Mom said it to him all the time. I catch myself thinking it and starting to say it to my kids alot, but wasn't exactly sure what it meant (obvious what it meant in context) but I had no idea what a layover was except as related to airplane travel. Great to know!

one voice said...

Thanks Classic, I'm glad I'm not the only one who heard this growing up, haha. :)

illcommandante said...

When my stepdad's train was late and Mom needed an explanation, it was "We were on a layover to catch meddlers". What that might mean, is that little train crew of Klansmen might have gone drinking, or they might have roughed somebody up for Pappy Ford and his Masons. Or, worse.

A Student said...

My grandmother used to say "It's a layaway to catch meddlers." I was wondering where the phrase came from so thanks for the post.