Sayings and meanings

 

Biting the bullet

Meaning: Accepting something difficult or unpleasant.

History: When there was no time to administer anaesthesia before emergency surgery on the battlefield, the surgeon would make patients bite down on a bullet in an attempt to distract them from the pain.

Caught red-handed

Meaning: To be caught doing something wrong.

History: This saying originated because of a law. If someone butchered an animal that didn’t belong to him, he had to be caught with the animal’s blood on his hands to be convicted. Being caught with freshly cut meat did not make the person guilty.

Don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater

Meaning: Hang on to valuable things when getting rid of unnecessary things

History: During the 1500s, most people bathed once a year. Even when they did bathe, the entire family used the same tubful of water. The man of the house bathed first, followed by other males, then females, and finally the babies. You can imagine how thick and cloudy the water became by that time, so the infants’ mothers had to take care not to throw them out with the bathwater when they emptied the tub!

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.

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.

Waking up on the wrong side of the bed

Meaning: Waking up in a bad mood.

History: The left side of the body or anything having to do with the left was often thought to have sinister associations. To ward off evil, innkeepers made sure the left side of the bed was pushed against a wall, so guests had no other option but to get up on the right side of the bed.

*Taken from List 25

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  AUTHOR
Julie Maule
Comaro Chronicle News Editor

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