Why Do We Say That?
Have you ever used the
saying ‘wet your whistle’ or even ‘mind your P’s and
Q’s’? Ever wonder
where those sayings and others like them come from? So did we.
We’ve put together a fun list of interesting tidbits to
‘tickle your fancy.’
If you have any you’d like to add to the list, or have a better
example of how a saying or word came about, e-mail us and we’d be happy
to share them with our readers!
There are several
different opinions of how this phrase came about but the most plausible version
has northern European roots. It
was thought that if newlyweds drank mead (a wine made from honey) every evening for one month (the cycle of one moon) they would surely have a male heir in that
year. They drank the mead out of a
‘Mazer Cup’ that they’d pass on to the next generation. That one-month period is called the
WET YOUR WHISTLE
This saying supposedly
came from an English pub. A
whistle was baked right into the rim of a ceramic beer mug. The crowd would get loud and it became
hard for the bartender to hear people ordering drinks. They would then blow the whistle for
another drink in order to ‘wet their whistle.’
SIT AROUND AND CHEW THE FAT
During Medieval times
bacon was very expensive to buy. When you did get some, it was customary to display or store
it over the fireplace in the parlor.
When important guests came over, it would be taken down and chewed during
conversation. People would
‘sit around and chew the fat.’
In England during hay
pitching season, workers would have allergic reactions to the hay which would
often times lead to a fever. They
began to refer to the symptoms as ‘hay fever.’
Mattresses were originally
pulled tight with ropes woven through the bed frame. A key was then used to periodically tighten the rope. This could very well have led to
‘sleep tight’ but many people disagree. ‘Tight’ means sound or healthy, which would
explain the usage as well. Still
others believe that ‘tight’ came along to rhyme with ‘good
night,’ or ‘wake bright,’ or even ‘bed bugs
MIND YOUR P’s &
There are two explanations
for this saying. The first is from
England where, once again, we gather in a pub. Ale was ordered in pints and quarts and
when the crowd got rowdy, the bartender would tell them to ‘mind their
p’s and q’s.’
The other plausible explanation is that the letters p & q are easily
reversible. When a printer was
running a press, the boss would tell him to ‘mind his p’s and
BEAT AROUND THE BUSH
This saying came about
when people used to hunt game. The
birds were chased and scared out of their hiding place, normally a bush. They were then captured and killed. We now say don’t ‘beat
around the bush’ meaning don’t procrastinate like the birds did
when they hid.
SAVED BY THE BELL
It was either during the
restructuring of a gravesite or the fact that people who were thought to be
dead were waking up during funerals that led to the discovery of the coma. Scratch marks were found on the
underside of some coffins and fear of burying someone alive led to the tying a
string to the “dead” person’s wrist. The string was attached to a nearby
tree and bell. If they woke up and
rang the bell, they were saved.
TURN THE TABLES
Tables in the past had
only one finished side. The
family, to preserve the nice side, used the rough underside. When company would come over the whole
top lifted off and the finished side was shown. Families would ‘turn the table’.
This saying dates back to
1910 and it means without preparation.
In 1922 it began to be associated with a withdrawal from an addictive
substance (usually drugs). Cold
turkey takes almost no preparation in the kitchen and so ‘cold
turkey’ meant doing something suddenly.
Source: Back-Roads Touring Co. Ltd., Fortunecity.com, Word
Origins & David Wilton, Fun Trivia.com, Dr. Fun Hyun Hong, 20-20.org.
© Copyright 2008 by ClassBrain.com
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