Strange Origins Of Common Phrases
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Strange Origins Of Common Phrases

Many common sayings and phrases have some strange and bizarre origins. Here are some sayings with origins that are quite unusual.

Many people use common sayings every day without knowing the true meaning of these words. Some of them are not at all like their true origins. Some of them have strange or even humorous backgrounds. It can be quite interesting to see how the meanings of common phrases have changed over the years.

It's Raining Cats And Dogs

Many years ago houses had thatched roofs with no wood underneath. It was the only place for animals to get warm, so all the cats, dogs, and other small animals lived in the roof. When it rained it became slippery and sometimes the animals would slip and fall off the roof.

Bring Home The Bacon

If a person could obtain pork it would made them feel quite special. It was a sign of wealth and stature. When visitors came over, they would hang up their bacon to show off.

Piss Poor

In the old days, urine was used to tan animal skins. Families would all pee in one pot and then once a day it was taken and sold to the local tannery. If you depended on this to survive you were "Piss Poor". The people who couldn't even afford to buy a pot were the ones who "didn't have a pot to piss in" and were considered lowest of the low.

Don't Throw The baby Out With The Bath Water

Baths were taken in a big tub filled with hot water. The man of the house would always be the first to use the nice clean water. The other sons and men would be next, then the women, and finally the children. By then the water was so dirty you could actually lose someone in it.

Dirt poor

This referred to the floor of the house. Years ago, almost all floors were dirt. Only the wealthy could afford a floor that was something other than dirt.

Rule Of Thumb

The story goes that there was an English law that allowed a man to beat his wife with a stick as long as it was no thicker than his thumb. In 1782, Judge Sir Francis Buller was credited with having made this ruling legal.

Mind You P’s And Q’s

Ale was served at local taverns out of a tankard. The sizes were pints and quarts. Since the quart cost a lot more than the pint, you were told to "Mind your Ps & Qs"

Getting A Square Meal

A person’s dinner plate was a square piece of wood with a "bowl" carved out to hold your serving of the stew that was cooking over the fire. The kettle was never actually emptied and cleaned out. New ingredients were simply added to it and you always got a “square” meal.

Frog In Your Throat

Medieval physicians believed that the secretions of a frog could cure a cough if they were coated on the throat. The frog was placed in the mouth of the unfortunate person and remained there until the physician decided that the treatment was complete.

Tie The Knot

This is also from the old marriage custom of actually tying the couple's hands together as part of the ceremony. According to legend, they were not allowed to untie it until they had consummated the marriage. This probably led to the saying where the first time was always “awkward”.

Getting Your Goat

This apparently refers to an old English belief that keeping a goat in the barn would help calm the cows which would allow them to produce more milk. When one wanted to antagonize someone, you would steal their goat which would make their cows less productive.


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Comments (2)

Very interesting, and makes me glad I didn't live in the old days!

This was an exhibit of exemplary research. I think that most of us have all, or at least most of these expressions without really knowing their origins. Thank you for educating us. I have bookmarked this page for future reference.