Origins of Phrases

Posted: February 21, 2008 in Misc.

In Case you were wondering….
(I found these interesting 🙂

Dirt Poor and Thresh Hold
Way back in the day the floor of most houses was dirt. Only the wealthy had something other than dirt, hence the saying “dirt poor.”
The wealthy had slate floors that would get slippery in the winter when wet, so they spread thresh (straw) on the floor to help keep their footing. As the winter wore on, they kept adding more thresh until when you opened the door it would all start slipping outside. A piece of wood was placed in the entranceway, hence, a “thresh hold.”

Graveyard Shift and Saved by the Bell
England is old and small and the local folks started running out of places to bury people. So they would dig up coffins and would take the bones to a “bone-house” and reuse the grave. When reopening these coffins, 1 out of 25 coffins were found to have scratch marks on the inside and they realized they had been burying people alive. So they thought they would tie a string on the wrist of the corpse, lead it through the coffin and up through the ground and tie it to a bell. Someone would have to sit out in the graveyard all night (the “graveyard shift”) to listen for the bell; thus, someone could be “saved by the bell” or was considered a “dead ringer.”

It’s Raining Cats and Dogs
Houses had thatched roofs — thick straw — piled high, with no wood underneath. It was the only place for animals to get warm, so all the dogs, cats and other small animals (mice, bugs) lived in the roof. When it rained it became slippery and sometimes the animals would slip and fall off the roof — hence the saying “It’s raining cats and dogs.”

Flowers and Bath Water
Most people got married in June because they took their yearly bath in May and still smelled pretty good by June. However, they were starting to smell, so brides carried a bouquet of flowers to hide the body odor. Baths consisted of a big tub filled with hot water. The man of the house had the privilege of the nice clean water, then all the other sons and men, then the women and finally the children — last of all the babies. By then the water was so dirty you could actually lose someone in it. Hence the saying, “Don’t throw the baby out with the bath water.”

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