We have all grown up with certain sayings but never really truly understood why they are used. From put your cards on the table to spending a penny, here are the top 15 expressions and the reasons why they came to be. Google
- Put Your Cards on the Table
This saying originated in the casino environment but has been used to mean showing your true intentions. If someone says you should put your cards on the table, they are asking you to divulge what you really think. It is often a term used in the business world.
- Keep Your Cards Close to Your Chest
Conversely, another saying that has arisen from the card table is to keep your cards close to your chest. This time it is used to indicate needing to stay quiet and your plans secret. Holding your dealt cards close to your chest, put them safely away from spying eyes so no one could see them.
- See a Man About a Dog
When someone says they need to see a man about a dog, it’s usually a way to excuse themselves without telling people where they are going and what they are doing. It is thought to originate at the dog track when somebody was off to place their bet.
- Flogging a Dead Horse
Flogging is another word for whipping or beating, and the saying flogging a dead horse is as hopeless as it sounds. By whipping a horse that was already dead, you’re unlikely to get any movement or action, and the phrase is used to refer to trying to get someone interested in something that is already a lost cause.
- Fell off the Back of a Lorry
Fell off the back of a lorry is a saying we used to refer to something that was potentially stolen. It is of dubious acquisition because if something really had fallen from the back of a lorry, it could be picked up by anybody and not handed back.
- Pardon my French
The phrase pardon my French has been used over the years as a way to apologise when you have been swearing or using foul language. It started in the 19th century when English people would drop French expressions into a conversation but then apologise for doing so in case it seemed rude to the uneducated who didn’t speak French.
- A Fish Out of Water
If we were to take a fish out of the water, it would become highly distressed and start thrashing around in a desperate attempt to get back to the water. This is because fish cannot breathe unless they are underwater. Therefore, a fish out of water refers to someone who is in a particularly uncomfortable or unfamiliar situation.
- Spend a Penny
If you have to spend a penny, you are referring to needing to go to the laboratory. In 19th century London, the first public facilities had locks operated by inserting a penny to release the mechanism.
- A Fly in the Ointment
Having a fly in the ointment is used as a saying for something becoming tarnished. Some kind of defect that means whatever you’re referring to is not as good as it could have been; this saying originates in the Bible.
- A Turn up For the Books
This is another saying you may hear at the dog track. However, it originated in horse racing. If a punter had not backed the horse that won, then there was nothing to pay out, and it was considered a turn up for the bookmaker who kept his money. It is now used as a saying when something lucky happens unexpectedly.
- A Little Bird Told Me
Again, this is a bit of a secretive saying when you don’t want to reveal the truth. If you have found some information but don’t want your source to be exposed, you say a little bird told me.
- Bring Home the Bacon
If you bring home the bacon, it means you are getting paid. This probably originates from a time when we traded and bartered rather than used cash. Bacon would have been a valuable commodity.
- Head Over Heels
Head over heels refers to the action of falling, and if you fall in love with someone, you may be said to be head over heels in love.
- Happy as a Pig in Mud
Pretty self-explanatory; pigs seem incredibly happy when they’re wallowing in puddles of mud. So, if someone looks very happy, they may be as happy as a pig in mud.
- My Cup of Tea
My cup of tea can be used as both a positive and negative expression. If something is your cup of tea, you like it. If something is not your cup of tea, you don’t.