Thursday, February 26, 2009


What is it about the term grindstone? What does 'back to the grindstone' really mean? Hmmmm.

I don't know why these random things come into my head, but I truly was wondering about this as I thought about coming back from LTUE and having to go back to work on Monday. Teaching fifth graders. Chatty fifth graders. So, I looked it up. Here's what I found.

* Merriam Webster says that it's a flat circular stone of natural sandstone that revolves on an axle and is used for grinding.

* Keep your nose to the grindstone means to apply yourself conscientiously to your work.

* Some think that the phrase came from millers checking the stones to make sure they weren't getting too hot and burning the flour, but those were millstones, not grindstones.

* Others think that it came from knife sharpeners who had to bend over close to the grindstone as they sharpened the knives. (I must agree that this would be hard work.)

* In regards to the knife sharpeners, a writer named John Frith said, "[They] holdeth their noses so hard to the grindstone, that it clean disfigureth their faces."

So, apparently, getting back to the grindstone means to get back to work. And that is what I had to do Monday. Go back to work ... er ... the grindstone.

Hope it doesn't disfigure my face.


  1. If any of those bratty 5th Graders disfigure my sister's pretty face, they'll get it from me!

  2. interesting stuff and I'm with Jill. Any disfiguration will bring down the wrath of Karen upon their heads!

  3. Whenever I hear the word "grindstone," I'm reminded of an old Carol Lynn Pearson play about the United Order where all the boys wanted new pants, and so they wore their old ones out by keeping their bottoms to the grindstone. Yeah, I was in that play when I was ten. I was a townsperson. :)

  4. That's what I need to do too--but there is no way I'm putting my nose anywhere near that thing.


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