Posted by Jessamyn on March 04, 1998 at 16:47:58:
In response to Two or three "straws" -- insight, please, written by KathyL on March 02, 1998 at 14:10:27
] In P&P the comment was made that "I wouldn't give two straws" (or three, can't remember) about something. I was surprised last night while watching one of the "Six Wives of Henry VIII" plays to hear the king use the same expression. Can anyone offer any insight into the phrase?
I think it's simply that a straw (as in a stalk of grass or wheat) was pretty much the most common and valueless thing that someone living in an actively agricultural age could think of--and thus still made sense in Austen's time. A Victorian expression is "I wouldn't give two pins." We don't really come in contact with straw (or even pins, many of us) in our daily lives any more, so these expressions have been replaced by the even more exaggerated modern phrases "you couldn't pay me to..." and "I couldn't care less."
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