Does it seem like things are “getting out of hand” in the world today? Or does it feel like there’s a “perfect storm” of tragic events, and “to make matters worse”, so many of us are “under the weather.”
Oh, those idioms- those sayings, or expressions, with metaphorical, not literal, meanings. Amazingly, there are 25,000 idioms in the English language. We all use them, and their meanings run the gamut from the humorous to the historical, or should I say, hysterical.
For example, let’s talk about prices. My dream beach-front home might cost “an arm and a leg”, but this expression dates back to the 18th century, when folks would have their portraits done, sans limbs. Apparently, painting arms and legs cost more.
Political intrigue seems to be the “order of the day”, and occasionally someone “lets the cat out of the bag.” In the 1700’s, a common fraud included replacing valuable pigs with less valuable cats and selling them in bags. When a cat was let out of the bag, “the jig was up.” We cat lovers may be insulted by that one!
Do you feel that you can’t believe what you read ( or see?), that someone’s “pulling your leg”? This idiom has a rather gruesome history: it originally described the way in which thieves tripped their victims in order to rob them.
In keeping with the leg metaphor, when we hope someone “breaks a leg”, it’s not a curse. Historically, it was hoped that successful theatre performers would bow so many times after a show that they would “break a leg.” With Broadway just now getting back into form, hopefully there will be a lot more bowing.
On car trips, those of us who generally ride “shot gun” might be interested in learning that in the Wild West, the person who sat next to the driver was equipped with a shotgun to plug any outlaws that might approach the coach.
And, along with the topic of transportation, road rage is a growing issue in our polarized society. Those “flying off the handle” on roads should know that the saying originated in the 1800’s- when poorly made axes sometimes would literally detach from the handle!
But instead of complaining about society, maybe we should just “bite the bullet.” In colonial times, patients literally bit on a bullet to cope with the pain during surgery. Yikes! That’s a reason to appreciate life in the 21st century.
Seriously, “hands down”, we’re better off today, but in 19th century horse racing, the expression referred to when a jockey could remove his hands from the reins and still win the race because he was so far ahead.
Am I just “beating around the bush” in my discussion? In Britain, game hunters would actually beat the bushes to draw out the birds. Those poor fowls!
And back to the hunting motif, perhaps I’m “barking up the wrong tree”? Sometimes, a dog would bark at the wrong tree after the prey in question had already “flown the coop”!
Probably, blogs like these are “a dime a dozen”, but in 1796, when the first US dimes were produced for circulation, many items like eggs and fruit were sold a dime a dozen. Checked the grocery prices lately ?
Well, “time flies while you’re having fun”, so I’d better “call it a day”, and “go back to the drawing board.” To “make a long story short”, “it’s not rocket science.” Maybe I “missed the boat”, and “your guess is a good as mine.” Don’t get “bent out of shape”! We can’t have “the best of both worlds”, so “we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it.
So, friends, “through thick and thin”, “hang in there”!