The Internet at the Speed of Thought

You Use These Common Sayings, But Did You Know About Their Strange Origins?

at 2:59 pm | By

It’s raining cats and dogs!

Idioms. Clichés. Metaphors. We all use them without thinking about them. But did you ever wonder where sayings such as “sick as a dog” come from? Language is an amazing thing. It’s constantly evolving with slang, social progress, and technologies. While new words like “selfie” and “manspreading” are being added to our lexicons and dictionaries, some old school ones have remained with us for decades and even centuries. Some of these phrases might have made sense back in the day, but not anymore. Yet they have lasted the test of time in American English.

man biting a bullet

Credit: Steve Ikeguchi/Shutterstock

Do you use these phrases without a second thought?

Break a leg

broken leg in bed

Credit: Richard Lyons/Shutterstock

While we use this to tell entertainers good luck on their performances, when you think about it, it comes across as confusing and ill-wishing. Many believe it started in British theatre in the 1920s because it was seen as bad luck to wish someone good luck.

Butter someone up

butter sculpture

Credit: Delmas Lehman/Shutterstock

I love food idioms like “Put it on the back burner” and “Come into fruition.” But those two examples are pretty self-explanatory. We know when you say ‘butter someone up,’ it means that you are sucking up to them and trying to cajole them into doing something for you. But why use butter in this context? Maybe because it’s similar to greasing them up so they are pliable. Also, some ancient Indians threw balls of butter at statues to win the favor of the gods.

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