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A Look At Language – 5 Random Phrases and Where They Came From

flickr, LollyKnit

Look at phrases you may use, and where they came from

  • Passing the Buck.  In this case, “buck” doesn’t mean currency.  The phrase comes from an old English card game, where a “jackknife” or “buck” was passed from player to player to indicate whose turn it was.
  • Beating Around the Bush.  In hunting, it’s sometimes necessary to beat or stomp on the underbrush to scare the animals out….. and the term originally described an UNWILLING hunter who would “beat around the bush” . . . but not actually kill anything.
  • Making the Grade.  It actually doesn’t have anything to do with school.  It’s an old 19th century railroad term, and “grade” is short for “gradient” . . . which means an incline…..Engineers had to make sure trains wouldn’t encounter any inclines that were too steep.  And if you “made the grade,” you were within the safety limits.
  • Getting Someone’s Goat.  It means you’re intentionally trying to irritate someone, but it’s originally a horseracing term.  Nervous horses sometimes calm down if you put a goat in their stall with them……but sometimes rival owners would STEAL the goat, so the horse would freak out overnight and lose the race.
  • Biting the Bullet.  Which means to face up to something.  But before anesthetics were around, injured soldiers would LITERALLY bite down on a bullet to help get through the pain of a surgery.







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