James Clark of Ardmore read in the Longhorn Daily Moo down in Texas that Dallas Cowboys coach Jason Garrett found former Oklahoma Sooners halfback Demarco Murray “champing at the bit to play” for the Cowboys.
“I grew up hearing ‘chomping at the bit,'” said James, as Bubba checked the air pressure in his tires. “Guess Coach Garrett and I came from different necks of the woods. Speaking of that, how did ‘neck of the woods' get started? Sounds stupid to this Okie.”
Well, there aren't as many woods in Oklahoma as there are in less fortunate states, Jim, and Buck figures Oklahomans do more chomping than they do champing.
“Champ” is the original word for chewing or biting on something, but vowel sounds don't stay put down the ages, and “chomp” took its place beside “champ” after a couple of centuries of masticating.
When a horse wants to get moving and somebody is pulling back on the reins, it tends to chomp impatiently on the bit. More fastidious speakers may want to go back to the original “champ,” but Buck wouldn't give a plug mule for the difference.
As for “neck of the woods,” it stems from one meaning of “neck”: a narrow stretch of land. “Neck of the woods” refers to a general area or vicinity.
“Thurmond Barnswallow is chomping at the bit to go necking with Betty Jean Hackberry after the church social next week,” said Gopher.
“He must not know that she's champing at the bit to go gallivanting with Milford Birdsong in Bricktown,” said Miss Lulabelle.
“When it comes to two-timing, she's just about the champ in this neck of the woods,” said Floyd.
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