Now Sayings get passed on through time,
And wives tales can seem quite sublime;
From whence did they come?
those sayings that Mum
did clearly know all in her prime
And wives tales can seem quite sublime;
From whence did they come?
those sayings that Mum
did clearly know all in her prime
Get Cold Feet-
That you're unsure and anxious about a decision you've made, or a venture that you're taking on and you are now having second thoughts, wanting to pull out, or change your mind.
A play in 1607, by Ben Jonson, called- Volpone: or the Fox, refers to having cold feet, as an old Lombard Proverb. Early medical books, suggested that when you are anxious, your feet get cold. The Nerves contracted strength in Hands-did fail, And Cold crept from the Feet and changed oér all, and when death came at last, it changed the nose. (From- 'The cure of Old age and preservation of Youth' By Roger Bacon 1683)
Get Down to Brass Tacks-
To get to the real point of the matter, or discussion, the important part.
The earliest mention of Brass tacks, seems to be in reference to Mosaic work with tiny pieces of glass, marble or stone, put together with very fine pins. A frame for this work is needed. This frame is fastened with brass tacks to a plate of the fame metal, or to a stone stab ; (From- 'The Complete Dictionary of Arts and Sciences, Volume 2' By Temple H. Croker, Thomas Williams, Samuel Clarke 1765) This is mentioned even earlier in relation the the same frame work. This example would mean that- 'Let's get down to the framework".
Get Off on the Wrong Foot-
To start something badly. The wrong foot meaning the left foot.
The Romans considered everything to do with the left, as having evil attached to it. So if things aren't going right for you, the left (or evil side) must have had something to do with it.
Gets on Your Goat-
If it gets on your goat, it annoys or irritates you.
Said to have originated from early American horse racing, where a goat was put in with the horse, to calm it down before a race. At times, goats were stolen, which would deprive the horse of the 'so-called' calming effect and also, irritate the owner of the horse.
Give Me a Break-
This can have two meanings. The first being, to give someone a break, can be to give them a chance, or opportunity. The other being, to let up on someone, go easy on them, lay off of them. Eg. "Give me a break, I've only been playing for 2 weeks, you can't expect me to be and expert already?" (as in, 'stop criticizing me, let me have a chance to get better at it')
Said to have originated from Pool playing and the breaking of the ball formation at the beginning of the game. The played hopes that it will break in an advantageous way, for his game play.
Give Someone the Cold Shoulder-
To Snub someone, avoid them or deliberately ignore them.
In Medieval times when guests would visit, if you were a wanted guest, then you would have been given a lavish meal. If you were an unwelcome guest, you would be served from last night's meal, most likely, a cold shoulder of mutton.
To be in a wild frenzy, or act in a crazy way.
This comes from Norse mythology, where a warrior who earned himself the name of Berserker, (bern- a bear, serkr- a coat) from wearing only a bearskin covering during battle. Before the battle, he would throw down his weapons and work himself up into a frenzy.
Go by the Board-
To be cast out, removed forever, discarded.
The Board, is the side of a ship, so to go by the board, is to go overboard and be lost in the sea.
Go by the Book-
To do something exactly by the rules, to do something in the correct way.
Most likely, this is referring to the 'Good Book', or in other words- 'The Bible'.
Go Cold Turkey-
To quit something immediately (usually drugs) without weaning yourself off.
Cold Turkey, meant 'plain'. So quitting abruptly, would be the plainest way the you could do it.
Each of you have to pay for yourself.
During the 17th Century, there was great rivalry between the British and the Dutch, so anything called 'Dutch' was meant as an insult.
Wiki says- erratic; out of control, but it can also mean to be off in the wrong direction, or completely get something wrong. Eg. "The T.V. has gone haywire, it's flashing and doing all crazy things", "We've gone haywire and now we're completely lost"
The wire used to bail up hay with, was used to fix all sorts of things in the past (and probably still is used), but as it would easily rust, whatever was temporarily fixed with it, fell apart.
Go the Whole Hog-
To do something thoroughly, with all you heart and soul, do it right.
Wiki says- Likely a folk term from the practice of livestock and butchery; “whole hog” or (“snout to tail”) refers to letting no portion of the animal carcass go to waste. For example, skin is tanned for leather, sweetbreads are harvested, and commonly cast off pieces such as hooves are pickled.
From the Fables of Poggius- "So that the Old Hunks here was well enough ferv'd to be Trick'd out of a Whole Hog for the Saving of his Puddings" Fables of Aesop and Other Eminent Mythologisto with Morals and Reflecions by By Aisopos, Roger L' Estrange (1692)
Go Through it With a Fine Toothed Comb-
To examine something carefully, to go over a document with great care.
This saying has it's roots of course, in lice. Only a fine or small tooth comb would get them out. 'Every Nurse combs her Children with a Small-tooth Comb 3 times a Week' ; (From- 'A New View of London: Or, An Ample Account of that City, in Eight Sections, Volume 2' By Edward Hatton 1708)
Green with Envy-
To be very jealous or envious or someone, or something that the person has.
The early Greeks considered “green” to mean sickly, having too much bile, which gave the skin a green tinge. Shakespeare mentioned it in 'The Merchant of Venice' when Portia says: "How all the other passions fleet to air, as doubtful thoughts and rash embraced despair and shuddering fear and green-eyed jealousy!"
Getting the job done in a very rough way and quickest manner, which is no where near the result of a craftsman.
A Dictionary from 1839, describes to Hack,as To cut anything in a rough or uneven manner. So, any job that was done in this manner, would be referred to as being Hacked.
To hold off, delay or wait.
Hang fire refers to an unexpected delay between the triggering of a firearm and the ignition of the propellant. This failure was common in firearm actions that relied on open primer pans, due to the poor or inconsistent quality of the powder.
To chill out, Lay back, Take it easy.
The Shaka sign is the famous surfers' hand gesture. The story of the popular sign goes back to the roots of Hawaiian culture. http://www.surfertoday.com/surfing/7837
Inappropriate mischief, suspicious activity
The Art of Amusing By Frank Bellew(1866). Hanky-panky is the name of a certain art practised by pantomimists of the clown and harlequin school, and is the subject of no little study and practice. Hanky Panky is composed of fictitious whackings, kickings and smackings, it dates back to the early 1800's.
Hard Boiled Egg-
A person with very little emotions, very stern and gruff.
The phrase was coined in early American Billiards, as describing some of the players.
Hard Nut to Crack-
Someone who is hard to get to know, or get close to, or hard to deal with. It can also relate to a difficult job.
He would be a hard nut to crack if he were a. match for you," chuckled Sir Harry, from 'Strive and Succeed, By Daniel Defoe (1722)
Severe or unfair criticism, a verbal or written attack which is damaging to someone' s reputation.
A journalistic term. The origin is said to come from early U.S. gang warfare, where Chinese gangs would hire an assassin, to Hack up a prominent member of a rival gang and kill them.
Hauled Over the Coals-
To be punished, reprimanded and interrogated. Eg. "How come you got home so late last night?, what were you doing?, you're grounded for a month".
The earliest example given is from 1565: "St. Augustine, that knewe best how to fetche an heretike ouer the coles." (OED). From the practice of dragging or raking heretics over hot coals performed by the Catholic Church as a form of torture. (wiki)
Have a Bone to Pick-
"I've got a bone to pick with you", means that you want to talk to that person about something that they have done or said, that might have upset or offended you. Also, a Bone of contention. This comes from two dogs fighting over a bone and the bone will be picked clean of meat.
A Bone to pick is as early as the 1600's, but may not have the same meaning as today. Bone of contention, is as early as 1520- "For this reason the right of investiture was a bone of contention between popes and emperors during the Middle Ages. From 'An Open Letter to the Christian Nobility of the German Nation, Concerning the reform of the Christian Estate, By Martin Luther, Charles Michael Jacobs.
Have a fit-
Or Throw a fit, means to really get upset and go berserk about something.
Not sure of the origin of this, probably fairly recent.
Have a Hunch-
An intuitive guess or feeling.
"I have a Hunch that my Mother will drop in today".
Have Your Cake & Eat it-
You can't have your cake and eat it (too) is a popular English idiomatic proverb or figure of speech. The proverb literally means "you cannot simultaneously retain your cake and eat it". Once the cake is eaten, it is gone.
An early recording of the phrase is in a letter on 14 March 1538 from Thomas, Duke of Norfolk, to Thomas Cromwell, as "a man can not have his cake and eat his cake". (wiki)
Have Your Finger in the Pie-
To be involve with something. It can be used in a negative way as well, eg. "She's always got her finger in the pie" (always interfering)
Mentioned in 'A new dictionary, french and english By Guy Miège, (1677)
Heard it on the Grapevine-
You heard gossip or a rumour, not through the correct channels.
The first Telegraph message was sent by Samuel Morse, from Washington to Baltimore, on May 24 1844. Companies rushed to install Telegraph lines, which left a lot to be desired. In 1859, a man known as Colonel Bee, put up lines between Virginia & Placerville, using trees as poles. The trees moved in the wind and the lines became tangled and eventually fell to the ground. These lines were then know as 'The grapevine', because they were said to resemble such.
Hell to Pay-
When the bad situation is made known, there will be a lot of trouble.
With sailing ships "hell" was what the bottom of the boat was called, as it was hot damp & smelly, also the seems between the timbers were called Devil's seems. To Pay, was mopping tar, to keep the ship sea-worthy, as if the seems opened up, water would start to pour in. This was not a sailor's favourite job.
He's a Real Ham-
Someone who overacts, a very bad actor.
The term 'Ham' or 'Hamfatter' , appears to have originated from the old Black faced Minstrel shows (eg. Uncle Tom's Cabin touring). These Minstrels, smeared their faces with ham fat, covered by burned cork, to give themselves the blackened look. (From- 'Historical Dictionary of American Theater: Beginnings' By James Fisher)
The third-rate actor is stigmatised as a “ barnstormer" or “hamfatter ;" (From- ' Everybody's Scrap Book of Curious Facts: A Book for Odd Moments' By Don Lemon 1890)
The Vokes people (family, Frederick Vokes was head of the group) first introduced to this country (England) that light, frothy entertainment which has been vulgarly called the “ham-fat drama, but which was just a frivolous farce, abounding in song and dance. (From 'The Theatre' Vol. 1 1886) The ‘Vokes family.’ made their first appearance 26 Dec.1861 at Howard's Operetta House, Edinburgh.
High and Mighty-
The person thinks that he's better than you, he has a high opinion of himself, is too good to associate with people like you.
In treaties, such as the Treaty of Westminster (1654), the States General were called:"Celsos Potentesque Dominos Ordines Generales Foederatarum Belgii Provinciarum", or "High and Mighty Lords States General of the united Netherlands' Provinces", where ordines corresponds with "states." (wiki)
Playful or rowdy activity, often involving mischievous pranks. For example, All sorts of high jinks go on at summer camp after “lights out.”
About 1700 this term denoted a gambling game accompanied by much drinking, but by the mid-1800s it acquired its present meaning. (wiki)
A word used by magician, when performing a magic trick,or witches are said to use Hocus Pocus, when brewing up a spell. It can also mean that there is a bit of funny business going on, something suspicious happening.
The earliest known English language work on magic, or what was then known as "legerdemain", was published anonymously in 1635 under the title Hocus Pocus Junior: The Anatomie of Legerdemain. Further research suggests that "Hocus Pocus" was the stage name of a well known magician of the era. This may be William Vincent, who is recorded as having been granted a license to perform magic in England in 1619.
Hold the Fort-
If you tell someone to Hold the Fort, it means that you want them to take responsibility for a situation while you are absent.
During the American Civil War in 1864, General William Tecumseh Sherman, was said to have signalled General John Murray Corse- "Hold the Fort, for I am coming", facing a Confederate attack. What the signal really said, was- "Hold out, relief is coming", but the misquote stuck and became a popular saying.
Hook Line and Sinker-
"She fell for it, hook line and sinker". This means that she'd been tricked or deceived by your lie. Totally, completely, no doubting.
When fishing, the fish will grab the bait on the hook and be pulled in and caught, without realizing what the bait was there for. She took the bait, without knowing that she was being tricked.