In yesterday’s post, I again used the expression “going to hell in a handbasket” …. and got a couple of emails re: its origin and meaning.
So, today we’re reprising a post from the archives …
This week, a poll finally asked a question that really cuts to the chase:
Which better describes how you feel about the way things are going in the world these days?
- a) Things are going to hell in a handbasket
- b) Everything will be alright
- c) Don’t know
Started me wondering:
What’s up with a goofy idiom like “going to hell in a handbasket”?
According to several sources …
Everybody knows the meaning: “To be ‘going to hell in a handbasket’ is to be rapidly deteriorating – on course for disaster.”
“The thought behind the phrase is 17th century, but the precise wording ‘going to hell in a handbasket’ and its alternative form ‘going to hell in a handcart’ originated in the US around the middle of the 19th century”.
There’s spotty evidence that the phrase was originally to hell in a handcart.
And, there’s some conjecture that handbaskets caught the heads of people being guillotined fell into a basket that was (obviously) heading for hell.
There seems to be broad based agreement that:“Going to hell in a handbasket’ seems to be just a colourful version of ‘going to hell’, in the same sense as ‘going to the dogs’. ‘In a handbasket’ is an alliterative intensifier which gives the expression a catchy ring.”
Nothing more … it just has a catchy ring to it.
Back to the survey:
A whopping 58% responded that they thought the world was going to hell in a handbasket.
That’s a big number, but makes sense given ISIS, EBOLA, a roller-coaster stock market …
In fact, I wonder why the number isn’t higher …