April 24, 2007

ankle biter


-A small child. Also applied to small dogs.
I first came across this phrase in an episode of full house uttered by the extremely delectable john stamos in reference to his on screen neice. Decided to do a little research on this phrase and came up with this :
Though this phrase has a contemporary feel, it was first recorded in the mid-19th century.
Harper's Magazine, September 1850, had the sentence:
"And how are you, John? and how's Molly, and all the little ankle-biters?"
The phrase then seemed to have disappeared from sight for over 100 years. It isn't clear whether the Harper's citation was a one-off usage and the phrase originated later independently. It's possible that it stayed alive as un-recorded slang but, even if it did stay in the language from 1850 onward, printed citations appear to be in limbo until Iona and Peter Opie's The lore and language of schoolchildren, 1959:
"A chap who has got duck's disease is most often labelled 'Tich’ in a friendly manner, or '‘squirt’ or 'little squirt’ in a less friendly manner. Alternatively: ankle biter, dolly mixture [etc.]."
Its said to be of Australian origin in many phrase lists, due to the way it sounds despite not having any citations in print.
The term ankle biter also seems to have some relevance in the stock market. It means stock issues that have market capitalization less than 500 million also known as "small cap" stocks.
To quote verbatim from the website:
"These issues can appear to be more speculative than stocks with high market capitalization. However, smaller issues often have great growth potential and tend to outperform larger market capitalization stocks. Small cap stocks are often biting at the ankles of the larger cap stocks and will one day - through capitalization growth - move up into the larger market capitalizations, as a child grows into adulthood."
Picture: Google Images

8 comments:

Radha said...

Trust those Aussies to come up with phrases like that!! :)
To call that cute girl in the pic an ankle biter would be such a shame!! :)
Great post Suramya!

suramya said...

radha : maybe the person who coined it had a child gnawing at his ankle, children find weird things to chew on when they are teething :), me and my wild imagination :):), thank you

Moi said...

haha..ankle biter.........and as u grow to be a teen....elbow-gnawer???...neat!!! :)

suramya said...

moi: maybe u can patent that word :), something which originated here :):)

666 said...

incidently there does exist something called as 'elbow bender'.

A person who drinks a lot is called an 'elbow bender'.

Moi said...

i know of "fender-bender" which is a completely diff turf altogether..but why on earth is a drunkard called elbow-bender???? and that still leaves me with a chance to patent "elbow-gnawer" ...thanx for the idea, Suramya!!!:)

kp;) said...

from a world more familiar to me comes an ankle biter who is an inexperienced cracker or a hacker who might use hacking tools and just manage to succeed in entering a web server or network...that simply because the site isnt that secure...

great goin u guys...keep the posts coming... :)

suramya said...

this phrase seems to have loads of meanings, thanks for sharing :)