Out of curiosity I've researched the origins of some of the phrases we say almost day to day in our lives. I've compiled a few of them below:
1. "The wrong end of the stick" is a phrase used today to describe someone who has the wrong interpretation from a story. This wasn't the original meaning however. In ancient Rome, the Romans had a stick with a brush on the end of it in their toilets. Since it was dark in the room, it was difficult to see which side of the brush you were wiping your butt with... "The wrong end of the stick" was originally used as an insult of one's stupidity.
2. In the 1800's, people began to run out of room to bury their dead. It was decided to dig up graves, burn the bones of the people inside, and reuse the coffins to bury more recently deceased, (this is where "bon[e]fire" comes from). When opening the old coffins, it was found that there were scratch marks on the inside-some people were not dead before they were buried. To prevent this, a string was tied to the wrist of someone presumed dead, and this string was attached to a bell above ground when they were buried. It was the job of the caretakers to look out for any ringing bells, so that person could be dug up. This is where the "graveyard shift", as well as the phrases "dead ringer" and "saved by the bell" come from.
3. Before tiles were used to make the roof of a house, thatching was used. Because it is made from a kind of straw, the thatched roofs were a good place for animals to hide in order to keep warm during the winter. Although, when it rained, the straw would be very slippery and animals would fall off the roof into the house below. Hence the phrase, "it's raining cats and dogs".
4. 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." It's where we get the phrase "mind your P's and Q's".
5. It was the accepted practice in Anglo-Saxon England 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 their calendar was lunar based, this period was called the honey month, which we know today as the honeymoon.
6. 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."
7. Before proper housing in the middle east, shops were simply stalls. If a thief wanted to steal something from the stall, they would simply be able to pick up the entire stall and take what they wanted. This is where "shoplifting" comes from.
8. In the 1400's a law was set forth that a man was not allowed to beat his wife with a stick no thicker than his thumb. Hence we have "the rule of thumb".
Last but not least
9. Many years ago in Scotland, a new game was invented. It was ruled "Gentlemen Only... Ladies Forbidden"... and thus the word GOLF entered into the English language.
I hope you have learned something new with today's post.