What’s all the flap about?

Yesterday I learned that the expression “to have blinders or blinkers on” can also be used in German – Scheuklappen aufhaben or Scheuklappen tragen or mit Scheuklappen herumlaufen – when one wants to describe someone as rather close-minded. According to an entry on http://www.redensarten-index.de/ the word has been used in this figurative manner since at least 1512 (albeit with older word Scheuleder).

The word die Scheuklappe is a combination of scheu – “timid,” or “skittish,” in the case of horses – and the “flap” meaning of die KlappeScheu is also found in the expression die Gäule scheu machen – “to upset the applecart.” The word die Klappe appears in the expression zwei Fliegen mit einer Klappe schlagen – “to kill two birds with one stone.” Die Klappe is also part of the expression Halt die Klappe! – “shut your trap/gob” – which one might be tempted to shout at someone wearing those Scheuklappen.

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