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Old Sayings And Their Origins ........


tonymailman2
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Mad As A Hatter - Some people say the phrase comes from the fact that in the 18th and 19th centuries hat makers used mercury nitrate in their work. Exposure to this chemical does indeed send you mad. However according to some people the origin of this phrase is much older. Hatter is a corruption of the Saxon word 'atter', which meant adder or viper. Furthermore 'mad' originally meant poisonous. So if you were mad as an atter you were as 'poisonous' (bad tempered or aggressive) as an atter (adder). It goes to show that often it is impossible to be certain where old sayings come from ...........

 

Add yours ........

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'Bit late in the day' now TMM but 'off the top of my head' only ones I can think of are :

 

To bite the bullet Today we use it as a reference to taking a chance or just going for something..... but I believe the saying derived from the days before anaesthetic where soldiers etc about to undergo an operation were given a bullet to bite on to help them cope with the pain :?

 

Where does the expression 'As a Rule of Thumb' come from as that's one I hear and use an lot but until now I've never wondered where it actually came from.

 

And how about 'Its rainaing cats and dogs' any idea ?

 

(If I had more time I would google the answers to my own questions but I have a noisy group of hairdryer riders to catch next time fly down our road. Been at it all night and they are getting on my nerves now.... Ooooh sorry apparently they are on mopeds... my mistake :lol::roll: Which reminds me of another sayng ......

 

"Like a Bat Out of Hell" .... origin Meatloaf :lol::wink:

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rule of thumb. could it be reference to the romans? thumbs up you live thumbs down you die. sounds plausible.

 

alternative would be that a thumb is around an inch across and thus twelve thumbs equals a foot as a rule it is a rough guide to length. so rule of thumb has come to mean a rough approximation.

 

as for raining cats and dogs. one explanation i have heard (well i think i heard it some where but not sure) was that dogs and cats used to sleep on the thatched roofs of the hovels in olden days and when it rained they would jump off the roof to seek shelter inside. 8)

well either that or slide off the wet roof :shock:

 

after reading back through this post it sounds like something from call my bluff :lol::lol:

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Use to chant that to name calling bullies at school... odly enough it usually resulted in them throwing something at us :lol:

 

The raining cats and dogs origin sounds plausible Tony as does the one about rule of thumb although other half though the latter came from testing the temperature of beer :?

 

Got me thinking now though about other things I often say.... where did these come from and why I wonder :?

 

Keep a stiff upper lip ?

 

Rome wasn't built in a day ? (obviously not :lol: )

 

Cutting off your nose to spite your face ?

 

Don't look a gift horse in the mouth ?

 

A different kettle of Fish ?

 

Saying something 'Tongue in cheek' ?

 

To 'kick the Bucket' (ie when someone 'pops their clogs')

 

Youv'e certainly got me thinking Tony and I'll be 'watching my every word' from now on (why is it 'watching' and not 'listening to' :?:lol: )

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:roll: Probably :roll:

 

....but who wants to sit at their pc 'like a billy no mates' looking up the origins of sayings when they can chat about it online amongst their 'friends' instead :P

Anyway google does not always offer consistent or correct answers to everything :P

 

No doubt you will now google them all Obs and try and spoil it for everyone :roll::lol:

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i have never believed that sticks as stones one ever since my mate got hit on the head when the sign fell of roberts bakery :wink:

 

looking at a horses teeth was the way to tell the age of a horse i have been told. so to look a horse given as a gift in the mouth to check it's age was considered as a slight to the person giving the gift.also if you were given and 'old nag' as a gift it did not do to complain as it was often better than walking where you needed to go.

 

stiff upper lip i would guess was to do with the men readying for battle. keeping the upper lip stiff showed that you were not afraid of what was to come no matter how bad. a trembling lip spotted by the enemy could be construed as a sign of fear thus giving them a lift at the critical moment.

 

but do feel free to to give your interpretation it may be right even if you have googled it :P

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Isn't it a persons bottom lip that usually starts to quivver first though when they are upset, about to cry or worried :? so surely it should be 'keeping a stiff bottom lip'.

 

Infact try as I might I find it hard to make my top lip go tight (stiff) but it is easy with my bottom lip. Bet you you justied try it too :wink::lol: Prince Charles suddenly springs to mind :lol:

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Here's one that I grew up with as a kid and I suspect it may have been a Warrington saying perhaps someone here could shed some light into it's origins.

 

Whenever anything went missing (people included) my parents would say it's ?Up that crack in Harry Ashton's ? Now I guess there was someone's house or building locally that had a whacking great crack in it so much so it developed into a local saying.

 

So who was Harry Ashton? :roll:

 

Bill :)

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I know some of the origins - Don't look a gift horse in the mouth -

 

Old English Proverb : when given a present, be grateful for your good fortune and don't look for more by examining it to assess its value. Since the only way to know a horses age is looking at its teeth! :wink:

 

Keep a stiff upper lip is like 'keep you chin up', and 'keep you pecker up'. The phrase has become symbolic of the British, and particularly of the products of the English public school system during the age of the British Empire. In those schools the 'play up and play the game' ethos was inculcated into the boys who went on to rule the Empire. That 'do your duty and show no emotion' feeling (Yes, I looked that one up!) :oops:

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well bill there was a harry ashton who played for warrington rugby club in about 1881 according to the talk rugby league website. though how the phrase came about and what it refers too may well remain a mystery :shock::shock::oops::wink:

 

http://www.talkrugbyleague.co.uk/guides/super_league_teams_warrington_wolves.html

 

 

one to ponder where did the toast "here's mud in your eye" originate and how?

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According to Morten's List, this toast may have arisen from the Bible story found in the 9th chapter of the Gospel of John, this morning's Second Lesson, where "mud in the eye" is a medium of healing and well-being, like that beverage that's about to go down!

:shock:

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"Daylight robbery" apparently comes from a window tax. People blocked up windows to avoid paying same.

 

I believe there was also a "brick tax". In the old days people had to pay it if their house had a particular number of bricks, which is apparently the reason there are a large number of half timbered and slate dwellings, built to stay within the limits.

 

Happy days

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Obviously that you should wear thermals in England until May is out.

 

I believe it is not the month of May but the hawthorn tree (May); and secondly, not the blossom showing but the blossom is "gone" (out)which is usually about the 5th June.

(anyone who has played cricket for a long time will tell you it should be nearer the end of June before you discard any woollies).

 

happy days

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