Since You Asked: The cold should came from cut of meat

In the story about the Pendleton Roundup, the Chamber of Commerce man said he wasn't worried about citizens giving visitors the "cold shoulder."

What's the cold shoulder, and how do you give it? Why not a cold elbow, or a cold calf?

— Jennifer B., Medford

Once upon a time, Jennifer, people would welcome visitors they wanted to see with a hot meal. Your black sheep brother-in-law, on the other hand, was likely to be given a cold meal. And an inferior cut of the mutton or whatever to boot. Hence, the cold shoulder.

Think about that. It probably took a flagon or two of ale to get it down.

At least that's the most popular theory. It shows up in Hendrickson's usually reliable, "Encyclopedia of Word and Phrase Origins" and other sources.

There's actually no documented history for it, but it's the one we tell at parties, and nobody busts us. Although come to think of it that was an awfully bony piece of cold meat on our plate.

Send questions to "Since You Asked," Mail Tribune Newsroom, P.O. Box 1108, Medford, OR 97501; by fax to 541-776-4376; or by e-mail to We're sorry, but the volume of questions received prevents us from answering them all.

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