The Strange Origins of These Everyday Sayings

There are some sayings that we use every day, without any thought to w... Read more

To Butter Someone Up

To Butter Someone Up

This saying means to suck up to someone in order to cajole and manipulate them.
It is thought that butter is used because it will grease someone up and make them pliable.
Also, ancient Indians used to throw balls of butter at statues to win the favor of the gods.

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In One Fell Swoop

In One Fell Swoop

This is a saying that means to do everything at once, but it actually has some dark origins from Macbeth.
When Macduff hears about his wife and children being murdered he cries out, 'All my pretty ones? Did you say all? O hell-kite! All? What, all my pretty chickens and their dam/At one fell swoop?'

Getting Out of Hand

Getting Out of Hand

When something gets out of control, it is getting out of hand.
This might reference the days of horse and buggy, when you would lose control of your horse if you let go of the reins.

Break the Ice

Break the Ice

This phrase refers to breaking the tension of an awkward social situation or a first meeting.
Many historians believe that this phrase actually comes from the large ice breaker steam ships of the 1800s.
They would literally break the ice, leaving a clear path for the ships behind.

Bite the Bullet

Bite the Bullet

This phrase means to face up to something that is difficult to do, even if it hurts.
It is thought that the phrase originates in the old days when doctors would have you bite down on a bullet to deal with the pain because there was no anesthetic.

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