arsenic hour

arsenic hour
(AR.suh.nik owur)
The time after parents arrive home from work and before dinner is served; any extremely hectic part of the day, especially when dealing with young children.
Example Citation:
It's almost dinnertime. Mom or Dad, or both, are trying to get dinner going. They've just arrived home from work or they're reeling from a long day of parenting. They're tired, the kids are wired and everyone is hungry. Among other things.
Let's peek inside one household:
The oldest child has a million questions and an attitude. The middle child needs a hand in the bathroom. The baby wakes up cranky from his afternoon nap. Then he poops. The dog, who has some issues of his own to work out, has decided to pick this particular moment to have a meltdown. He starts scratching the paint off the door and then begins barking as if a serial killer is in the house. Simultaneously, the cat relieves itself in an unauthorized location.
The best that can be said about the above situation is that it's not my house. Our only pets are fish, who are usually very polite and well-behaved, particularly if you drop an occasional mention of "fillet" as you pass by the tank. The children are another matter. This is the time of day known as "the arsenic hour." Why? Because you either want to dispense some arsenic or take some.
— Bill Lohmann, "Arsenic Hour," The Richmond Times Dispatch, March 22, 1998
Earliest Citation:
Between the nap and the twilight
When blood sugar is becoming lower,
Comes a pause in the day's occupations,
That is known as Arsenic Hour.
— Marguerite Kelly and Elia Parsons, The Mother's Almanac I, 1975
After I'd been researching today's phrase for a while, I found out that it appears in a book from 1975 (see the earliest citation below), which would normally make it too old for the Word Spy. However, by then I'd already come across a huge number of synonyms: rush hour, witching hour, sour hour, hurricane hour, granny hour, scotch hour, sherry hour, and suicide hour. Clearly there's a deep well of black humor that's the source of these terms. Arsenic? Suicide? This forces those of us who are childless to wonder just what on earth is going on out there?
In neological circles, the presence of a large number of synonyms for something usually means not only that that something is an extremely common phenomenon, but also that it doesn't have an official name. (The sociological term for arsenic hour is the forgettable and far too understated transition time). Given the apparent intensity of the experience, people feel a need to label it somehow, so they come up with "X hour" constructions modeled, no doubt, on phrases such as rush hour and, ironically, happy hour. (Although see children's hour, below.) So in the end I decided that arsenic hour was post-worthy because it's a linguistic reflection of what appears to be a significant, or at least commonplace, cultural phenomenon.
Note, too, that the earliest citation is clearly based on the Henry Wadsworth Longfellow poem, The Children's Hour (1863), so arsenic hour was originally an ironic play on that phrase:
Between the dark and the daylight,
When the night is beginning to lower,
Comes a pause in the day's occupations,
That is known as the Children's Hour.
Related Words: Categories:
The arsenic hour had to do with the time of day that a young child would have most likely gotten into the poison under the sink where the household cleaners and such were usually kept. They would have been hungry, and tired and mom would have been distracted anbd busy trying to get dinner on the table before daddy got home. Arsenic was used in rat poison. This was in the day before "baby-proofing" was in vogue and no one had ever seen a cabinet lock.

New words. 2013.

Игры ⚽ Поможем написать реферат

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Arsenic poisoning — Infobox Disease Name = Arsenic poisoning Caption = DiseasesDB = ICD10 = ICD10|T|57|0|t|51 ICD9 = ICD9|985.1 ICDO = OMIM = MedlinePlus = eMedicineSubj = emerg eMedicineTopic = 42 MeshID = D020261 Arsenic poisoning kills by allosteric inhibition of …   Wikipedia

  • golden hour — (GOHL.dun owur) n. The hour immediately after a serious injury, when caring for the injury is critical to the victim s survival. Example Citation: The state established the system in 1970, largely at the behest of the late R. Adams Cowley, who… …   New words

  • SMUM — n. A woman who finds motherhood and her children tedious and uninteresting. [Acronym from Smart, Middle Class, Uninvolved, Mother.] Example Citations: In her new book, Mommies Who Drink, U.S. actress Brett Paesel confesses she would rather hit… …   New words

  • Anger and Anxiety — afflufemza agonism air rage alpha girl amygdala hijack anti fan arsenic hour bikelash …   New words

  • Pregnancy and Parenting — afflufemza alpha mom arsenic hour askable parent baby lag belly cast bio mom birth art …   New words

  • club-sandwich generation — n. People who provide care for their parents, children, and grandchildren. Example Citation: Dan English, Kootenai County clerk, spoke from experience when he said, There is a real need for such a support group. Lots of people in our age range… …   New words

  • cot potato — n. An infant or toddler who spends a great deal of time watching television. Example Citations: USA Today has said television, video games and fear of the world outside the front door is creating a world where today s children are under house… …   New words

  • hectivity — n. Hectic activity. Example Citations: A reader wrote to say that, in his house, they use the word hectivity. My three daughters cause too much hectivity in our house. Jay Nordlinger, Cohen of Memphis, etc., National Review, September 6, 2007 A… …   New words

  • hurried child syndrome — (HUR.eed chyld SIN.drum, drohm) n. A condition in which parents overschedule their children s lives, push them hard for academic success, and expect them to behave and react as miniature adults. hurried child n. Example Citation: No parent wants… …   New words

  • kindergarchy — n. Rule or domination by children; the belief that children s needs and preferences take precedence over those of their parents or other adults. Example Citations: And I realised, once again, we re living in a perilous new world that says kids,… …   New words

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”