Bees' Knees and Barmy Armies: Origins of the Words and Phrases We Use Every Day

By Harry Oliver

From stiff top lip to stomping grounds, an fun examine the heritage at the back of commonly-used phrases and phrases

 

What makes anyone "pleased as punch?" Why is long island urban referred to as "The tremendous Apple?" Why can we "dress to the nines?"And what does it suggest to flee by means of the "skin of your teeth?" each day speech is peppered with 1000's of words and expressions, yet hardly ever are their origins pondered. This interesting survey delves deep into the heritage at the back of countless numbers of universal phrases and turns of word and uncovers their interesting and fun resources. From old idioms to up-to-the minute lingo, this can be definitely the right source for etymologists and language-lovers alike.

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Tony Blair, for instance, might have been obvious as a ‘lame duck’ British major minister as soon as he introduced that he wouldn’t struggle one other election and Gordon Brown used to be ready within the wings to be triumphant him. Lead via the nostril To ‘lead by way of the nostril’ is to have keep an eye on over anyone – to have them do just what you will have. The word derives from the perform of top cart-drawing animals resembling horses, donkeys and mules, whose nostril might have a hoop pierced via it in order that a rope can be hooked up with which to regulate them. Cart animals were led by way of the nostril for millennia, yet figurative connection with it dates again to the 16th century. Lion’s percentage This word, which means the most important or best component of whatever, owes its foundation to at least one of Aesop’s fables. A lion and 3 of his pals – a fox, an ass and a wolf – move looking. once they make a kill the lion says that he's going to maintain three-quarters of the beef for himself. the explanations he offers for maintaining the ‘lion’s percentage’ are as follows: one area is for him, one region for his lioness and cubs, and the opposite zone is for his braveness. The lion then is going directly to tell his neighbors that he's ready to half with the rest sector supplied considered one of them demanding situations him to a struggle and defeats him. the 3 acquaintances refuse to take him on, who prefer to go away the complete kill to the King of the Beasts. greater than you could Shake a Stick at If I had an abundance of money and anyone have been to invite me how much money I had, then i may good answer with the curious word ‘more than you could shake a stick at’. I’ve by no means noticeable somebody shake a stick at something, not to mention be confronted with whatever that they can no longer shake a stick at. The word is unquestionably interesting. evidently, shaking a stick isn't a pleasant gesture, and also you may most likely basically commence waving one at anyone or anything to accomplish your individual goals. One very believable advice is that the expression comes from farming. A farmer confronted with an immense herd of animals that he desires to keep an eye on or count number may locate himself crushed through the numbers and accordingly his stick will be ineffectual. Neither cover nor Hair If you’ve noticeable neither disguise nor hair of somebody or whatever it capability you’ve visible not anything in any respect of them or it. this is often definitely an American expression, and there a number of tales relating to its beginnings. it's been steered that it derived from the behavior of North American huntsman of claiming, after a fruitless day’s searching, they'd visible ‘neither cover nor hair’ of any prey, the place ‘hide’ potential the cover of prey reminiscent of deer. The expression first seemed within the 19th century, and examples are available within the paintings of yank author Mark Twain. in spite of the fact that, a few think it comes from an inversion of the English expression ‘hide and hair’, which dates again to the 1500s and intended all of anything. One-horse city so much people have encounter a ‘one-horse city’ – a few of us dwell in a single – for it really is effortlessly a truly small and sleepy city the place little or no occurs.

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