Category Archives: Etymology

By the seat of your pants: Why do I say that I fly by the seat of my pants?

Whether we’re going into an exam or a meeting unprepared, or whether we are blagging our way through a conversation where we’re trying to seem knowledgeable about a subject we haven’t studied in great depth, we know we’re flying by … Continue reading

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Get your Goat Origin: Why do we say someone has got your goat?

You know someone has got your goat when your face starts to resemble a beetroot and steam threatens to come out your ears as you feel anger and annoyance seething within… But what has getting angry really got to do … Continue reading

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Square meal origin and meaning: Why do we say square meal?

Unless you count things like cubed watermelons, few of the foods we eat are actually square shaped. So then why do we sometimes call a nourishing and wholesome meal a “square meal”?

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Tying the knot: Why do we say we tie the knot when we get married?

You hear your cousin gush about finally going to “tie the knot” with her boyfriend, and as you hear this, you automatically substitute “tie the knot” with “getting married” in your head. But if you pause for a minute, you … Continue reading

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Beefy definition and meaning: Why do we say some people are beefy?

When we refer to someone as beefy we generally mean that they are strong, muscly and robust. But why do we associate these qualities with beef of all things?

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Cup of Joe, Cup O Joe or Cuppa Joe… Who’s Joe and what’s he got to do with Coffee?

The aromatic black stuff has a wide array of entertaining nicknames including brain juice, bean juice, cup of jolt, jitter juice, wakey juice, rocket fuel, cupped lightening, brew, mud, Java and of course “cup of Joe”. Why do you call … Continue reading

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Fresh as a Daisy Meaning & Origin

When someone is described as being “as fresh as a daisy” we may picture a bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, lively, alert, well-rested, energetic and enthusiastic individual. But why would a daisy be fresh? What is the meaning behind this idiom?

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On the Ball Origin and Meaning

When someone is highly alert, sharp and generally at their best, we say that they are “on the ball”. What ball are we referring to? What is the origin of this phrase: “to be on the ball”?

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The Bobby Policeman: Why are policemen called Bobbies?

England is famous for many things: Double decker red buses, red telephone boxes, soldiers with tall black furry hats and their “bobbies”, (or policemen to the rest of the world!) How did the Bobby policeman get his name?

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Why do we say Do-Re-Mi in music?

The classic movie, The Sound of Music made the names of the notes Do Re Mi in the musical scale famous the world over, but have you ever wondered why a note would be called “do”, “re” or “mi”? What … Continue reading

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