MORE ORIGINS OF THE COMMON SAYING
Added on: 14th Jan 2015
GO COLD TURKEY
Meaning: To quit something abruptly
History: People believed that during withdrawal, the skin of
drug addicts became translucent, hard to the touch, and
covered with goose bumps – like the skin of a plucked turkey.
GO THE WHOLE 9 YARDS
Meaning: To try one’s best
History: World War II Fighter pilots received a 9-yard chain of
ammunition. Therefore, when a pilot used all of his ammunition
on one target, he gave it “the whole 9 yards.”
Meaning: One who crosses the street in a reckless or illegal manner
History: Jay birds that travelled outside of the forest into
urban areas often became confused and unaware of the potential
dangers in the city – like traffic. Amused by their erratic behaviour,
people began using the term “Jaywalker” to describe someone who
crossed the street irresponsibly.
KICK THE BUCKET
Meaning: To die
History: When a cow was killed at a slaughterhouse,
a bucket was placed under it while it was positioned on a pulley.
Sometimes the animal’s legs would kick during the adjustment of
the rope and it would literally kick the bucket before being killed.
LET YOUR HAIR DOWN
Meaning: To relax or be at ease
History: Parisian nobles risked condemnation from their peers if
they appeared in public without an elaborate hairdo. Some of
the more intricate styles required hours of work, so of course it was
a relaxing ritual for these aristocrats to come home at the end of a
long day and let their hair down.
MORE THAN YOU CAN SHAKE A STICK AT
Meaning: Having more of something than you need
History: Farmers controlled their sheep by shaking their staffs
To indicate where the animals should go. When farmers had
more sheep than they could control, it was said they had
“more than you can shake a stick at.”
NO SPRING CHICKEN
Meaning: Someone who is past his prime
History: New England chicken farmers generally sold chickens
in the spring, so the chickens born in the springtime yielded
better earnings than the chickens that survived the winter.
Sometimes, farmers tried to sell old birds for the price of a
new spring chicken. Clever buyers complained that the fowl was
“no spring chicken,” and the term came to represent anyone
past their prime.
PLEASED AS PUNCH
Meaning: To be very happy
History: A 17th century puppet show for children called
Punch and Judy featured a puppet named Punch who
always killed people. The act of killing brought him pleasure,
so he felt pleased with himself afterwards.