Tuesday, March 29, 2011

TOP three…Phrases We Use but Don’t Really Understand

We use them every day, to explain the normality of our day-to-day engagements. “Hey, you seem like you have a chip on your shoulder, what’s going on?”…well actually NOTHING because my shoulder is perfectly clean thank you! See what I mean? We take these outlandish phrases for granted habitually but how did they come about? Who decided that that when you’re in a pickle, you’re in trouble? Let’s find out…

#1. "It ain’t over till the fat lady sings"

Who is this apparently plump female anyway? I have no idea but she obviously makes the finale of something important.

**ORIGIN: The musical connection is with the familiar operatic role of Brunnhilde in Richard Wagner's Götterdämmerung, the last of the immensely long opera, Ring Cycle. Brunnhilde is usually depicted as a well-upholstered lady who appears for a ten minute solo to conclude proceedings. 'When the fat lady sings' is a reasonable answer to the question 'when will it be over?', which must have been asked many times during Ring Cycle performances, lasting as they do upwards of 14 hours.

So obviously this slightly tubby woman is a singing conclusion to an unbearably long Opera…interesting!

#2. "Getting Cold Feet"

Hmmm…my appendages do often become slightly frosty but that never causes me to become disheartened or timid, losing my previously established courage. I don’t get it…

**ORIGIN: Why this term was coined isn't at all clear. On the face of it there doesn't seem to be any obvious connection with the literal meaning of cold feet and the meaning of the phrase. There are a couple of citations of the phrase in publications but nothing to help establish a source.

Apparently no one knows! Ha-ha

#3. "Cute As a Bug"

Imagine for a moment a bug...cute picture? Hardly. In fact absolutely nothing about any insect is even slightly appealing to me let alone extraordinarily attractive. Yucky!

**ORGIN: The phrase originated in the southern states of America in the latter part of the 19th century and is still more common there than elsewhere. No-one, even in Texas, where the phrase is often said to have originated, thought that bugs' were cute. What they did think, and they had a point here as insects can detect very miniscule and high-pitched sounds, is that they were 'acute'. Cute was actually a synonym for 'acute' in the 1700s in England. Nathan Bailey defined it in The Universal Etymological English Dictionary, 1731, as: sharp, quick-witted, shrewd.

HUH…so bugs are shrewd and quick-witted? That still does not make very much sense to me but at least we aren’t referring to them as cute.


Bringing home the bacon - Despite my intense love for bacon I still don’t know why we always want it brought home, that would get very old!

By the skin of your teeth What? Teeth don’t have skin…duh.

Dead as a doornail Were doornails ever alive? And if they did die, how can we be dead like them…puzzling…

{I want to hear your funny phrases!! Post some of the idioms you use on the regular and see if anyone uses yours!}

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