Overview

wooden


Show Summary Details

Quick Reference

Wooden horse an alternative name for the Trojan Horse. The Wooden Horse (1949) was the account by the writer Eric Williams of how he and two companions, when prisoners of war in Germany, successfully used a wooden vaulting horse to disguise the escape tunnel which they constructed over four and a half months.In the 17th and 18th centuries, wooden horse also denoted an instrument of military punishment, a structure with a sharply ridged back on which offenders were made to sit astride, sometimes with their hands bound and weights on their feet (riding the wooden horse).

wooden nutmeg in the US, a false or fraudulent thing; a fraud, cheat, or deception; originally, a piece of wood sold to the credulous as a nutmeg. The story of this fraud was recounted in the Clockmaker (1836) by the Canadian humorist ‘Sam Slick’ (T. C. Haliburton, 1796–1865).

wooden spoon a real or imaginary prize given in fun to the person who is last in a race or competition; originally a spoon given to the candidate coming last in the Cambridge mathematical tripos, a custom recorded from the early 19th century.

wooden walls the wooden ships of the Royal Navy, considered as Britain's defences. The term derives from a story in Herodotus of how the Athenian statesman Themistocles (c. 528–c. 462bc) interpreted the words of the Delphic oracle before the battle of Salamis, that ‘the wooden wall’ would help them. Themistocles is said to have told the Athenians, ‘The wooden wall is your ships.’

wooden wedding in the US, a 5th wedding anniversary, on which it is appropriate to give presents made of wood.


Reference entries

Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content. Please, subscribe or login to access all content.