Two weeks ago, I posted a blog that detailed 5 commonplace phrases and their origins. As promised, here are the other 5 sayings.
Meaning: Short of money.
Origin: This term was originally a nautical command. When facing bad weather on the sea, sailors would put the tiller as far windward as possible so the bows were away from the wind. The phrase gradually evolved but kept the idea of a stressful element.
Rule of thumb:
Meaning: A rough measure or approach; a broad application that is not strictly accurate or reliable.
Origin: When an accurate measurement tool isn’t available, often people would use their thumb to provide a rough measurement. A human thumb averages out to about an inch, but obviously each person differs and thus can’t be used reliably. Before you ask, no, we certainly never use our thumbs to measure anything in evaluation!
Turn over a new leaf:
Meaning: Improve one’s behavior or conduct; start anew.
Origin: You may think this refers to the leaf of a tree or plant, but it actually refers to the page of a book. Stemming back from the first half of the 16th century, the term was actually known as “turn a leaf.” The idea of turning over to a new page and making a fresh start combined to create the phrase. Leaves are more commonly known as pages in current day, but the terminology remained.
Under the weather:
Meaning: Somewhat unwell.
Origin: There are two explanations for this phrase. The first is that bad weather was often believed to be the cause of temporary or minor illnesses. It has also been attributed to seasickness. When passengers would board ships, they would most frequently get seasick during inclement weather as the boat would rock harder. Sick passengers would go below deck, which translated to under the weather.
Ring of truth:
Meaning: Give an impression of being true or honest.
Origin: This phrase, also known as “have a ring of truth to it,” stems from counterfeit money. A counterfeit coin has a different composition than a genuine silver coin, so people would drop coins on the ground to determine the authenticity of the coin. Silver coins would make a ringing noise when they hit the ground, also termed as ringing true.
Do you or your family have any interesting sayings? Please feel free to share them with us!
Many thanks to TinyOnline.co.uk, Wikipedia.org, and Answers.com for their information!