Layovers to Catch Meddlers

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When I was growing up my Grandfather, a person I idolized, had a response he would often use whenever I would ask a question, especially if the question was about what we were having for lunch. He would say “layovers to catch meddlers and caught you the first one”. I never knew what it meant and would often ask but would only get one of his smirks.

According to the Morris Dictionary of Word and Phrase Origins by William and Mary Morris “layover to catch meddlers” is a dialect variant of a very common answer used by adults to evade a direct answer to children’s questions. Instead of saying to the child. ‘It’s none of your business,’ he would be told, ‘It’s layover to catch meddlers.’ So what’s a layover? you ask. A layover is a trap for bears or other unwary animals, made of a pit covered with boughs. And a meddler, of course, is a person who interferes in other people’s business. The phrase was recorded in Eastern and Southern states as long ago as 1890.

I sometimes find myself using the phrase on my kids. It reminds me of Grand-Pa every time.

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