What does the expression “to cut didos” mean and Where does it come from?

“To cut didos” is something that a Britisher doesn’t do. He cuts a caper or otherwise cavorts around.

There is nothing to show that George Washington cut any didos, though it is likely that others were doing so during the latter part of his life, for probably the expression was coined about that time.

It was widely enough known to be used in “A Narrative of the Life & Travels of John Robert Shaw, the Well-Digger”, an autobiography published in 1807.

Whoever coined the dido left us no certain clue of its origin; he may have alluded in some manner to the trick performed by the mythological queen, Dido, who founded Carthage. When she landed in Africa, according to the story, she bought from the trusting natives only the land that could be enclosed with a bull’s hide.

Having agreed upon the price, the crafty queen then proceeded to cut the bull’s hide into a continuous cord slightly thicker than a hair, and thus encircled enough land upon which to build the walled city of Carthage. Some dido!

About Karen Hill

Karen Hill is a freelance writer, editor, and columnist. Born in New York, her work has appeared in the Examiner, Yahoo News, Buzzfeed, among others.

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