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It is a very old saying, that dates back at least to the 16th century: Woolgathering: 1550s, "indulging in wandering fancies and purposeless thinking," from the literal meaning "gathering fragments of wool torn from sheep by bushes, etc." (see wool + gather). (Dictionary.com) Earlest known usages: The earliest known use of the phrase ...


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Shorter Oxford (revised Onions 1933) lists yesterday as noun and adverb. Yesterday sb. Did you see my yesterday's note? Byron. All our yesterdays have lighted fools the way to dusty death. Will Shakespeare. adverb He was to dine, as yestesterday with the Frazers. Jane Austen Nevertheless is only listed as an adverb. Nonetheless is not ...


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From etymonline: ... 1550s, "indulging in wandering fancies and purposeless thinking," from the literal meaning "gathering fragments of wool torn from sheep by bushes, etc.," an activity that necessitates much wandering to little purpose... Hence it makes the jump from "wandering aimlessly, looking for wool" to any other drifty, purposeless behaviour: ...



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