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8 Old-Timey Ways to Say ‘No Way’

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Getty Images / iStock

Feeling over committed? Need a better way to say "no"? Aside from using “don’t" instead of “can’t,” here are eight fun and old-timey ways you can say, “No way.”

1. NOT IN THESE TROUSERS

The next time you want to say, “Certainly not!” you can say, “Not in these trousers!” The earliest citation in the Oxford English Dictionary (OED) of this British English saying is from 1920 in Realities of War by Philip Gibbs: “‘Come up and have a look, Jack,’ he said to one of the blue-jackets. ‘Not in these trousers, old mate!’ said that young man.”

2. NOT ON YOUR TINTYPE

A slightly older U.S. colloquialism—the OED’s earliest record is from 1900—World Wide Words says not on your tintype originated when tintype photography was popular and is based on the 18th century phrase, not on your life.

3. NOT ON YOUR NELLY

Not on your Nelly is a shortened version of Not on your Nelly Duff. According to The Virtual Linguist, Nelly Duff is Cockney rhyming slang for puff, which in this context means “life” or “span of life.” The blogger also mentions another puff phrase, in (all) one's (born) puff, which is chiefly used in negative contexts and means “in a person's experience, in all a person's life.” So why does puff mean “life”? Presumably because it also means “breath.” Not on your Nelly Duff is from 1941, according to the OED, while Not on your Nelly is from 1959.

4. NEVER A FIG

This idiom meaning “not at all” is from the 16th century. Back then, according to the OED, figs were equated with anything “small, valueless, or contemptible,” hence other figgy expressions such as not giving or caring a fig about something. Giving the fig, on the other hand, is a disdainful gesture that resembles the U.S.-centric "I got your nose!" The OED says another name for the gesture is fig of Spain, which also refers to a poisoned fig used to destroy an obnoxious person. Which came first, the insulting hand signal or the toxic fruit, isn't clear.

5. AIKONA

Aikona can mean “no, not any, not” and can also be used as an emphatic “certainly not,” “never,” and “no way!” It’s a South African colloquialism and comes from Fanakalo, a lingua franca developed and used by mining companies in Southern Africa. Fanakalo is composed of elements from Nguni languages, English, and Afrikaans.

6. NIXIE

Nixie is another “Certainly not!” variation you might want to add to your vocabulary. A blend of nix, meaning “not possibly, not at all,” and the suffix -y, its earliest usage in the OED is from 1886.

7. ON (AT) THE GREEK CALENDS

If you prefer to stump people, you can say, “On the Greek calends” when you mean “never.” The OED says it’s “humorous” because the ancient Greeks didn’t use a calends—that is, a first of the month—in how they tracked time. Hilarious! The phrase originated around 1649: “That Gold, Plate, and all Silver given to the Mint-House in these late Troubles, shall be paid at the Greek Kalends.”

8. NOT IN A WEEK OF SUNDAYS

A week of Sundays is, of course, seven Sundays, or seven weeks, and therefore a long or undetermined length of time. If you want to be extra emphatic about saying “Never!” you can also use, “Not in a month of Sundays,” which is a really long, seemingly endless amount of time.

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Feeling Down? Lifting Weights Can Lift Your Mood, Too
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There’s plenty of research that suggests that exercise can be an effective treatment for depression. In some cases of depression, in fact—particularly less-severe ones—scientists have found that exercise can be as effective as antidepressants, which don’t work for everyone and can come with some annoying side effects. Previous studies have largely concentrated on aerobic exercise, like running, but new research shows that weight lifting can be a useful depression treatment, too.

The study in JAMA Psychiatry, led by sports scientists at the University of Limerick in Ireland, examined the results of 33 previous clinical trials that analyzed a total of 1877 participants. It found that resistance training—lifting weights, using resistance bands, doing push ups, and any other exercises targeted at strengthening muscles rather than increasing heart rate—significantly reduced symptoms of depression.

This held true regardless of how healthy people were overall, how much of the exercises they were assigned to do, or how much stronger they got as a result. While the effect wasn’t as strong in blinded trials—where the assessors don’t know who is in the control group and who isn’t, as is the case in higher-quality studies—it was still notable. According to first author Brett Gordon, these trials showed a medium effect, while others showed a large effect, but both were statistically significant.

The studies in the paper all looked at the effects of these training regimes on people with mild to moderate depression, and the results might not translate to people with severe depression. Unfortunately, many of the studies analyzed didn’t include information on whether or not the patients were taking antidepressants, so the researchers weren’t able to determine what role medications might play in this. However, Gordon tells Mental Floss in an email that “the available evidence supports that [resistance training] may be an effective alternative and/or adjuvant therapy for depressive symptoms that could be prescribed on its own and/or in conjunction with other depression treatments,” like therapy or medication.

There haven’t been a lot of studies yet comparing whether aerobic exercise or resistance training might be better at alleviating depressive symptoms, and future research might tackle that question. Even if one does turn out to be better than the other, though, it seems that just getting to the gym can make a big difference.

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