Meaning: Lacking most of the necessities of life, Having, or being able to provide, very few of the basic needs of life; very poor
Origin: This phrase first appears in print from Edna Ferber's 1931 novel, American Beauty. Thousands of Great Plains farmers during the Dust Bowl Era lost everything except the dirt of their unworkable farms, now worthless. Also, huge dust storms created an unusual amount of dirtiness by blowing sand into every corner of their farmhouses.
Some people say it dates back to England in the 1500's where finished floors were rare, but this origin has not been proven. However dirt as a synonym for soil is an American invention. The English generally use the word to mean filth—either real or metaphorical. Dirt farmer, dirt road, hit pay dirt, eat dirt, and do someone dirt were all coined in the United States.
Farm Sayings Friday is weekly feature of Yield Starts Here. You might think your grandparents made it up, but that old saying likely goes back many years. In this feature we will figure out who said it first and what it really means! Do you have a well used saying in your family, send to us and we'll feature it in a future blog.
Yield Starts Here is a blog for farmers, focusing on increasing yield and profitability by focusing on the soil. It is managed by Craig Dick, a Blogronomist and Sales and Marketing Manager at Calcium Products. Find other articles by Craig and guest writers at http://blog.calciumproducts.com/ .