You might use these 11 popular expressions daily but do you actually know what they mean? Find out now and impress your friends with your new knowledge!
1. Bury the hatchet
This expression comes from the 17th century. It refers back to the Native American custom of burying a hatchet or tomahawk in the ground to signal peace between warring groups.
2. Stealing someone’s thunder
John Dennis, an actor manager in the 18th century, invented a machine that reproduced the sound of thunder. Dennis was angry when another production company used the sound and apparently said: “Damn them! They will not let my play run, but they steal my thunder!”
3. Playing to the gallery
The highest and cheapest seating in a theatre is called the gallery. The least wealthy members of society would sit there so the expression means to appeal to popular taste.
4. It ain’t over till the fat lady sings
Many opera singers were well-endowed so this expression was used to reassure someone that there was still time for a good singer to sing during an opera.
“Yob” is a type of back-slang (words are spelt backwards as a code) and just is “boy” spelled backwards.
6. By the skin of my teeth
This expression is from a translation of the Book of Job. Job is subjected to trials by Satan and is finally relieved by God. So this expression means to “narrowly” or “barely” escape a disaster.
7. Breaking the bank
Moneylenders and traders in the 17th century would conduct their business on benches outdoors.
8. Romance languages (French, Spanish, Italian)
These three languages were developed from Latin. Historically, “romance” means “of Rome”.
9. In a nutshell
“In a nutshell” means to sum up something in a concise way. Cicero, a Roman philosopher witnessed a copy of Homer’s poem the Illiad that was written on a piece of parchment that was small enough to fit inside the shell of a walnut.
10. Apple of discord
An apple of discord means “a cause or subject of strife or dissension” and comes from the mythical tale of Eris (goddess of discord) who threw a golden apple inscribed with ‘for the fairest’ at the wedding of Peleus and Thetis, which sparked a dispute between Hera, Athena and Aphrodite.
11. The greatest thing since sliced bread
This expression became popular in the 1960s after there were many innovations (like sliced bread) after the Great Depression.
Source: Oxford Dictionaries