Have you ever wondered where some of our well used expressions originated?
For instance why is the expression "Long in the tooth" used to describe old age?
Apparently, although this expression is mainly used about people it was orginally applied specifically to horses.
As horses get older, their gums recede so although their teeth aren't actually getting longer, they seem to be. Hence "long in the tooth".
There's another expression that arises from this. Since a horse's teeth (or, to be more accurate, gums) are an indication of its age, someone being given a free horse really has no right to start quibbling about its age. From this we get the saying 'never look a gift horse in the mouth'.
Ever wondered how "going off at half-cock" originated?
This came from the 17th century when to fully cock a flintlock musket was to prepare it for firing. The half-cock position was a 'safe' position to which the hammer or cock was drawn to permit access to the priming pan to charge and load the weapon. Pulling the trigger of a flintlock musket at half cock will not fire the weapon. In the heat of the battle, it was easy to forget to fully cock one's musket after loading it and go 'off half-cocked', with the result that nothing would happen.
How about "put one's back up"?
This comes from the action of a cat, which arches its back up when it is angry.
And putting the dampers on?
The analogy is said to be with music, specifically the piano. A damper is a part of a piano which, when applied, presses on the strings and cuts and deadens their sound. Hence hindering and discouraging the progress.
Have you ever "stuck your oar in"?
A shortened version of an expression that can be traced back almost 500 years and may even originate in Latin or Greek: "to have an oar in every man's boat" meant to have a hand in everybody's affairs.
What's your favourite expression? Don't know the meaning, you can look it up here.
Monday 21st May
No worse, no better.