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A Brief History of "Nuts to You"

by Kayla Aldrich, Read to Them staff

Hello, all, and happy Wednesday! As you get settled in with Lynne Rae Perkins' Nuts to You, one thing you probably noticed from the start? The title, of course. Did it make you laugh? Scratch your head and wonder, what is that supposed to mean? Well, friends, we've got you covered in today's post.

Believe it or not, the phrase "nuts to you" has a long and fairly complicated history.

It all started with Alice Nutter, a woman accused of being a witch during the Pendle Witch Trials all the way back in 1612. Nutter's last name became shortened to the form we know today - "nuts." She was someone seen as crazy, and the term "nuts" began to evolve into other forms such as "nut-case."

But in 1811, "nuts" was noted to mean fond or pleased." There was even the phrase "nuts upon it" which meant someone was happy with an object or adventure, quite the opposite of what it had been noted in the past, right? Funny enough, by the time 1860 rolled around, "off-one's nut" became a popular phrase and it had fairly negative connotations.

Today, "nuts to you" or "nuts to (someone" is used as an exclamation of anger or dismissal toward someone else. It can be something as simple as "go away!" or it can be... a little meaner, let's say.

In the novel, Chai uses "are you nuts?" And it's even explained that To squirrels, "Are you nuts?" is a combination of "Have you lost your mind?" and "You remind me of the most wonderful thing I can think of." The last phrase isn't all that surprising, though, not when nuts and acorns are so vital to a squirrel's livelihoods. It is so fun to see how words and phrases develop different meanings over time, and when those words and phrases are used in different contexts.

Thanks for running through time with us! We hope you'll join us back here on Friday for you first week of writing prompts to round out your first five days with Nuts to You. Be sure to share photos with us of you and your family during the reading event on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. Looking for a community to talk about all things Nuts to You? Don’t forget to join Flipgrid to share your thoughts with your peers. Be well, all, and happy reading!

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