"Straight Lick with a Crooked Stick"

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Ellis Crowfoot
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"Straight Lick with a Crooked Stick"

Unread post by Ellis Crowfoot » Mon Dec 06, 2010 2:38 pm

Just an interesting tidbit of historical interest I came across the other day that I thought I would share: In searching for the origins of the phrase "to hit a straight lick with a crooked stick" (used by Hurston, et al.), I came across this early reference, by one Rev. Edward Corbet, England, 1642:

"Do not contemne thy weak brother. God can raise his thoughts, or direct his follie to a happie end, he can make him an Instrument of glorie, who is now a subject of weaknesse, and can strike a streight stroake with a crooked stick."

There are a couple of other mid- to late 17th Century variants of the phrase I found as well, all by English clergymen. The phrase may be a loose adaptation of a Biblical verse, a general Biblical reference, or an older bit of Anglo folklore--it may not be possible to trace out the precise origins. But apparently the phrase was brought to the States by English settlers, and was at some point adopted by African-American (and other) communities in the South, where it has enjoyed good use.

Ah, the fascinating twists and turns of folkloric history.
Ellis Crowfoot
HRCC Graduate, Lucky Mojo Certified Practitioner

"The natural man can feel the earth's heart beat beneath his feet." (Henry David Thoreau)

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catherineyronwode
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Re: "Straight Lick with a Crooked Stick"

Unread post by catherineyronwode » Mon Dec 06, 2010 5:44 pm

I have not known this to be an especially Black phrase -- i have heard it from White folks in the South.
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Ellis Crowfoot
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Re: "Straight Lick with a Crooked Stick"

Unread post by Ellis Crowfoot » Fri Dec 10, 2010 11:09 pm

Cat: That's interesting. To this point I have personally only heard (or seen) Black folks use it. That must simply be circumstantial, then.

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Miss Bri
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Re: "Straight Lick with a Crooked Stick"

Unread post by Miss Bri » Sat Dec 11, 2010 8:08 am

This is a saying that many in my family use and we are white. Well, technically we are a big old mess of different races, ethnicities, and cultures but on our census forms most of us are going to check the "caucasian" box :-)
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Bri
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Re: "Straight Lick with a Crooked Stick"

Unread post by Adde3 » Wed Jan 01, 2014 8:45 pm

It is a phrase that originated in the black community during slavery but in some areas it made it's way into the general dialect of the south. I remember hearing old people say someone has a straight lick with a crooked stick usually when someone does something extraordinary.
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