Phrases – By Des Kelly


Phrases – By Des Kelly

A subject that “I can get my teeth into”, (or something one is familiar with), as the phrase or “saying” goes, I absolutely love them, and use them wherever possible, in my writings.

There are thousands of them, some ordinary everyday phrases, yet, some are cryptic, and need to be explained more fully to the reader. Also, some have been written a very long time ago, in what is termed “Olde English”.  
     This lot has been sent in, as interesting, for eLanka, and this is exactly what our website is looking for. Most of the phrases mentioned below, are used quite frequently, but even in so doing, have we ever stopped to try and understand where these phrases were founded ?. I guess not, so, let us now read and enjoy these special ones, as sent in to us.
Desmond Kelly
Desmond Kelly.
         (Editor-in-Chief)  eLanka.


  1. In the 1400s a law was set forth in England that a man was allowed to beat his wife with a stick no thicker than his thumb.
    Hence we have ‘THE RULE OF THUMB’.

    2. Many years ago in Scotland , a new game was invented. It was ruled ‘Gentlemen Only…
    Ladies Forbidden’… and thus the wordGOLF entered into the English language.

    3. Each king in a deck of playing cards represents a great king from history:
    Spades – King David,
    Hearts – Charlemagne,
    Clubs -Alexander the Great,
    Diamonds – Julius Caesar

    4. In Shakespeare’s time, mattresses were secured on bed frames by ropes. When you pulled on the ropes the mattress tightened, making the bed firmer to sleep on. Hence the phrase……… ‘GOODNIGHT, SLEEP TIGHT’.

    5. It was the accepted practice in Babylon 4,000 years ago that for a month after the wedding, the bride’s father would supply his son-in-law with all the mead he could drink. 
    Mead is a honey liquor and because their calendar was lunar based, this period was called the honey month, which we know today as the HONEYMOON.

    6. In English pubs, ale is ordered by pints and quarts… 
    So in old England , when customers got unruly, the bartender would yell at them ‘Mind your pints and quarts, and settle down’.
    It’s where we get the phrase ‘mind your P’s and Q’s’

    7. Many years ago in England, pub frequenters had a whistle baked into the rim or handle of their ceramic cups. When they needed a refill, they used the whistle to get some service. 
    WET YOUR WHISTLE‘ is the phrase inspired by this practice.

    8. In 1696, William III of England introduced a property tax that required those living in houses with more than six windows to pay a levy. In order to avoid the tax, house owners would brick up all windows except six. (The Window Tax lasted until 1851, and older houses with bricked-up windows are still a common sight in the U.K.) As the bricked-up windows prevented some rooms from receiving any sunlight, the tax was referred to as“daylight robbery”!

    9. In the medieval period, they only had mud flooring. During winter they spread thresh on these floors to avoid mud. To prevent the thresh from spilling out as they walked in and out the doors, they nailed wood planks on the bottom of the doors. Thus THRESHOLD became a word!

    10. Also in medieval England, they do not embalm the dead and some cases of dead persons were known to rise from the dead (likely in coma). So when someone died, they laid his body on the table and relatives and friends gather around in vigil for three days with the hope that he will wake up thus the word WAKE.
    After three days, they usually placed the body in a coffin to avoid the stench and buried it at least 6 ft below ground. But the dead person had a string tied on a finger at one end and a bell on the other end of the string so that should the person still wake up and finding himself buried, his sudden movements would cause the bell to ring. Thus came the expressions SIX FEET UNDER and SAVED BY THE BELL.
    In addition, the family made sure that there would always be someone on the gravesite 24/7 so if and when the bell would ring, someone would immediately dig him up. Thus came about the words GRAVEYARD SHIFT for those who stood watch at night till dawn.

    Now, there you have the origin of these phrases…quite interesting!!!(wink2)(wink2)(wink2)
    Sent from my iPhone

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