break Priscian's head [ˈprɪʃiən] v. phr.
1.) To violate the rules of grammar (Garner's Modern American Usage 3rd Edition).
Etymology: In the 6th century, Priscian wrote an 18-volume Latin grammar that was copied by almost every library in Europe and influenced writers for several centuries. He is reputed to have been so devoted to the study of grammar that making an error in his presence hurt him as much as a blow to the head.
"Quakers, that like to lanthorns, bear
Their light within them, will not swear;
Their gospel is an accidence,
By which they construe conscience,
And hold no sin so deeply red,
As that of breaking Priscian's head."
(Hudibras, Samuel Butler, 1684)
Today's phrase in honor of Lemons Don't Make Lemonade, the winner (again) of the weekly contest. She wrote:
Even though the Roman Catholic church is one of the biggest religious institutions in the world, few true votaries remain within its inner circles. Devotion to the Word of God is no longer a prerequisite for modern day cardinals, who usually possess the legerdemain to amass financial wealth and the savoir-faire to charm their way to the Pope's throne. To quash the chances of their opponents, cardinals running for the papacy often resort to bribery. And since the cliche "money talks" often proves to be accurate, a dirty cardinal's chances are often not bad at all.Nicely done again, Lemons. You used litotes rather than the word "litotes", but that's okay. That was back before the days of the Sunday rhetoric feature, so it was unclear what you were supposed to do. Also, this is your 5th victory, so you're the 1st winner of a prize! Congrats! Which book do you want? (I wonder how much shipping to Singapore is going to cost.) Well, let's take another week off since I haven't been blogging regularly again; hopefully I'll get back into it this week. Thanks for reading!