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The miller"s tale can have functioned for Chaucer, yet it doesn"t assist here.
You are watching: What does nose to the grindstone mean
All the proof is versus the miller"s tale. Firstly, the stones supplied by millers were generally called millstones, not grindstones. The two terms were sometimes interchanged however the difference between the two was made at the very least as early as 1400, when this heat was printed in Turnament Totenham:"Ther to be gryndulstones in gravy, and mylstones in mawmany."The middle English language there is complicated to interpret but it definitely shows the grindstones and millstones as being distinct from each other. If the derivation was from milling we would expect the phrase to be "nose to the millstone".A second point in favour the the tool sharpening source is that all the beforehand citations describe holding someone"s sleep to the grindstone together a type of punishment. This is much more in keeping with the notion of the consistent hard labour implicit in gift strapped to one"s bench than it is come the occasional sniffing of ground flour by a miller. The image at the top of the page, i m sorry looks victor in date, shows a youngster being held with his sleep to the grindstone, return that appears to be together a joke quite than as a punishment.Certainly wherein I live, in Sheffield, England, many of the kept Gesdrta.netian device sharpening workshops have actually benches whereby grinders would certainly sit hunched over grind stones. They had to pay close fist to their job-related as a minute too lengthy on the wheel could reason the stole to overheat and be ruined. Lock literally had actually their noses come the grindstone.
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That seems really likely that photo is what remained in the mind of anyone coined this phrase.The an initial known quote is john Frith"s A Mirrour or Glasse to recognize thyselfe, 1532:"This text holdeth their noses so tough to the grindstone, the it clean disfigureth your faces."The phrase shows up in publish at assorted dates since the 16th century. It was well-enough recognized in rural USA in the early on 20th century because that this picture, which alludes come the "holding someone"s sleep to the grindstone" version of the phrase, to have been staged as a hoax (circa 1910).