Friday, 19 January 2018

Where did that come from? Some more odd sayings

Kangaroo Court – this one has its very own Wiki page!  Now you might think this one came from Australia – the only country as far as I know with kangaroos.  But no, the first recorded instance of it is American.  It means a judicial or court process that is not fair or well run.

Taking the Mickey  - if you are taking the Mickey out of someone you are making fun of them – not usually in a mean way.  Wiki thinks that Mickey is a reference to Michael Bliss  (and Bliss is cockney rhyming slang for a word starting with 'p'.  That seems a bit far-fetched to me – but who really knows.  One thing is certain – the Mickey is not a reference to the famous cartoon mouse.

Red Herring – this is a deliberate device by someone (maybe an author) to set a clue that is misleading and diverts you from the truth.  But why a herring and why red?  There is no  such fish as a red herring…  There is no real consensus about this.  Most theories seem to think that it is a reference to a strongly scented preserved fish or kipper.  It may have been used in training hounds to follow scents.

Saved by the Bell – this is used when a time comes up or something happens that means you don't have to do something disagreeable or won't be punished.  The saying originally almost certainly came from boxing – where someone is almost down and out but the bell rings for the end of the round.  There are other theories – one gruesome one is that in olden times they rigged up coffins with a bell that could be rung from inside in the event that the person woke up while being buried.

Straight from the Horse's Mouth – the meaning of this is straight forward – it is getting some information from the original source rather than from second hand sources.  I think it is a horse racing term in that punters (betters) believed that if they got a tip from someone in direct contact with the horse that it was more valuable.  But other than the adorable Mr Ed, horses don't talk.

1 comment:

  1. This is a great list. I always love learning the meaning behind commonly used phrases!


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