You don’t say…
Have you ever wondered at the origins of many of the peculiar expressions we use? When you discover its background, a ‘turn of phrase’ can take on a new significance.
In the 1400s a law was passed in England that a man was allowed to beat his wife with a stick no thicker than his thumb. This is ‘the rule of thumb’.
It is attributed that when a new game was invented in Scotland, it ruled to be ‘Gentlemen Only, Ladies Forbidden’ – and so the acronym GOLF entered the English language.
In Shakespeare’s time, mattresses were secured on bed frames by ropes. When you pulled on the ropes the mattress tightened, making the bed firmer to sleep on. Hence the phrase, ‘goodnight, sleep tight’.
It was the accepted practice in Babylon 4,000 years ago that, for a month after the wedding, the bride’s father would supply his son-in-law with all the mead he could drink. Mead is a honey beer and because the Babylonian calendar was lunar based, this period was called the honey month. Today, we know it as the honeymoon.
In English pubs, ale is ordered by pints and quarts. So, in old England, when customers got unruly, the bartender would yell at them, “Mind your pints and quarts, and settle down.”
This is where we get the phrase, ‘Mind your Ps and Qs.’
Again, many years ago in England, pub frequenters had a whistle baked into the rim, or handle, of their ceramic cups. When they needed a refill, they used the whistle to get some service. ‘Wet your whistle’ is the phrase inspired by this practice.
FACT OR FICTION?
The first couple to be shown in bed together on prime time TV in the US were Fred and Wilma Flintstone.
Every day, more money is printed for Monopoly than the US Treasury.
Men can read smaller print than women can; women can hear better.
Coca-Cola was originally green.
It is impossible to lick your elbow. (After hearing this, about 75 percent of people try to lick their elbows.)
The US State with the highest percentage of people who walk to work is Alaska.
The percentage of Africa that is wilderness: 28%.
The percentage of North America that is wilderness: 38%. With more than 65% of Australia being desert, we win this argument, hands down. (‘Hands down’ is not a card game expression, by the way, it comes from horse racing. Jockeys need to keep a tight rein in order to encourage their horse to run. A jockey so far ahead that he can afford to slacken off and still win can drop his hands and loosen the reins – hence winning ‘hands down’.)
Each king in a deck of playing cards represents a great king from history:
Spades – King David.
Hearts – Charlemagne.
Clubs – Alexander, the Great.
Diamonds – Julius Caesar.
Intelligent people have more zinc and copper in their hair.
The first novel ever written on a typewriter: Tom Sawyer, by Mark Twain.
In the US, if a statue in the park of a person on a horse has both front legs in the air, the person died in battle. If the horse has one front leg in the air the person died as a result of wounds received in battle. If the horse has all four legs on the ground, the person died of natural causes.
What do bulletproof vests, fire escapes, windshield wipers, and laser printers all have in common? All were invented by women. ♦