Welcome to Awakenings

Life IS history in the making. Every word we say, everything we do becomes history the moment it is said or done. Life void of memories leaves nothing but emptiness. For those who might consider history boring, think again: It is who we are, what we do and why we are here. We are certainly individuals in our thoughts and deeds but we all germinated from seeds planted long, long ago.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

What's 'n' an idiom?

Have you ever wondered about the little expressions, idioms, common to the everyday English language? They seem to just simply enter into conversation any time without much thought. In other words, the phrases just fit! But what are their true meanings in terms of origins? Some are quite unique and interesting. Here are but a few:

Literally let's hope that never happens...claws or teeth!

Meaning: Asked when a person is at a loss for words  

Origin: The English Navy used to use a whip called “Cat-o’-nine-tails” for flogging. The pain was so severe that it caused the victim to stay quiet for a long time. Another possible source could be from ancient Egypt, where liars’ and blasphemers’ tongues were cut out and fed to the cats. (Perhaps that's considered a treat for the cats!)

This one may be hard to believe but in the early 1500s, people only bathed once a year.

Meaning: Don’t get rid of valuable things along with the unnecessary ones.

Origin: In medieval times baths consisted of a big tub filled with hot water. The man of the house had the privilege of the nice clean water, next all the other sons and men, then the women, finally the children. Last of all, babies. By then the water was so dirty you could actually lose someone in it. Hence the saying, "Don't throw the baby out with the bath water."  

Next time you dine with friends or family and you are offered leftover meats, they just might be wanting you to leave!

Meaning: Being unwelcoming or antisocial toward someone

Origin: In medieval England, it was customary to give a guest a cold piece of meat from the shoulder of mutton, pork, or beef chop when the host felt it was time for the guest to leave. This was a polite way to communicate, “You may leave, now.”

When people rub us up the wrong way, they usually do not know they are doing something wrong.

Meaning: To bother or annoy someone

Origin: Early Americans, during the colonial times, would ask their servants to rub their oak floorboards “the right way”. The wrong way (not wiping them with dry fabric after wet fabric) would cause streaks to form and ruin it, leaving the homeowner annoyed. Alternatively, it could have derived from rubbing a dog's or cat’s fur the “wrong way,” which annoys them.

There are several stories behind this next idiom, but here is one to enjoy...