9 Fascinating Expressions and their Crazy Origins

Hello everybody and hello everyhead!

I was thinking the other day about where the phrase ‘train of thought’ comes from. So I asked one of my teachers, and they didn’t seem to be bothered by it, so I hope you are now bothered. I did some research so learn up.

“Beat around the bush”:

Meaning: To avoid the issue.

Okay if I’m honest this phrase has always struck me with an embarrassingly obvious sexual connotation. So, it made sense in my head that it maybe had something to do with the illegal treatment of gossipy women so that they’d tell you the truth about something or other… but seems I’m both wrong and horrible and that never happened.

This phrase came from a technique in hunting (are there such things as hunting techniques? I don’t know it sounds too girly). Apparently, it’s occasionally necessary to beat the under bush so that the animals will come out into the open. An unwilling hunter will ‘beat about the bush’, pretending to put effort into finding and killing the animal, but not actually doing so. Makes sense?

“Cat got your tongue”:

Meaning: What you say to a person who is at a loss for words.

My Nan used to say this to me a lot when I was little.

That and “If there’s a will, there’s a way”, “Curiosity killed that cat”, “She’s the cat’s mother” and the other weird sayings that were cat related.

If I’m honest, I always thought she said “If there’s a wheel, there’s a way”, but I got the point anyway.

I never got the cat ones. I’m here like, “WHAT DO YOU MEAN THE CAT DIED? WHAT CAT? We don’t even have a cat. WHOS THE CATS MOTHER? AREN’T YOU THE CATS MOTHER? Again, we don’t have a cat. IF THE CAT IS DEAD THEN HOW HAS IT GOT MY TONGUE? DID WE SWITCH TONGUES OR IS THE CAT JUST HOLDING IT? WHY ARE YOU EVEN LOOKING AT MY TONGUE? WE. DONT. HAVE. A. CAT. (and now I feel the need to inform everyone that Nan said that quite a lot probably because I was actually kind of a quiet kid, believe it or not.)

So really you could say that I’ve been writing this post my whole life.

I found two explanations. The first has to do with the ‘cat-o’-nine-tails’ whip. I think most people of English decent know what that is. If you don’t, it’s just another part of the caucasian culture that we don’t talk about while we are busy dodging racism due to our apparent ‘lack of culture’; when in reality we do have culture… taking land and destroying meaningful cultures and enslaving them using this whip.

Anyway, the pain from this whip was so severe that it sometimes caused the victim to stay quiet, unable to speak through the pain.

Another possible explanation comes from ancient Egypt, where liars’ and blasphemers’ tongues were cut out and fed to the cats.

“Apple of my eye”:

Meaning: Something (or usually someone) that one adores genuinely or pays loving attention to.

I don’t have a typical explanation for this, but here goes my twisted mind.

I was thinking maybe that in ancient Greece, there was a handsome philosopher who lived in a small village famous for its beautiful green apples and its vineyard. One day this philosopher was quietly contemplating the flat earth while on a stroll in the pretty orchard. He fell over, and his little smart-guy spectacle fell into his eye, gouging it out.

The philosopher rejects medical attention as he is arrogant about his knowledge of all things, so he treats himself. Picking himself up off the ground, he replaces his missing eye with a small unripened apple, which he later paints to match his dreamy eyes. He’s still handsome, no one knows and the young girls all still love him for his great talent and knowledge in art and poetry.

After a while, he dies from infection. The autopsy reveals his secret. One of the autopsy doctors is a female (that’s the twisted bit). The infection had taken the handsome philosopher’s body and was quite mangled, which meant that the young doctor failed to recognise him.

The philosopher had taught the girl about poetry and art, and they had become close as he had offered to give eight goats for her hand in marriage.

Except the girl didn’t want to marry the handsome philosopher and instead ran away to marry a doctor, who now stood beside her dissecting the body to find the source of the infection.

A week later, she receives a letter that informs her of his identity and an invite to his funeral.

At the funeral, she was asked about the tragedy, and her response is something like, “It’s a shame really, he was the apple of my eye.”, then she chuckles to herself because she sounds like a poet but she really just made a pun about her deceased philosophical poetry teacher who dies at the ripe old age of 33. Like Jesus. Yeah, apple eye guy was Jesus #2.

This Old English phrase was first attributed to King Alfred (the Great) of Wessex, AD 885, in Gregory’s Pastoral Care. May I just be the first to say that I have no idea who that is, but he sounds like the Michelle Williams of his time. The phrase also appears in Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream – which I studied in year 8, taught by my 2nd most favourite English teacher (lol if #1 or #2 are reading, wassup.)

“Cool as a cucumber”:

Meaning: Alternative Pronunciation of Tyneesha Williams.

I’ve never even thought about this one, but also cucumbers aren’t even that cold… but they help you chill out.

Anyway, my research told me that this phrase, despite sounding very Gen X, actually first appeared in the original breakup song, John Gay’s Poem, New Song on New Similies, in 1732:

“Round as a hoop the bumpers flow;
I drink, yet can’t forget her;
For, though as drunk as David’s sow,
I love her still the better.

Pert as a pear-monger I’d be,
If Molly were but kind;
Cool as a cucumber could see
The rest of womankind.”

Awe, John Gay got his heart broken because he knows nothing either.

Also thanks, John Gay for laying the foundations for every Taylor Swift song ever.

“Eat humble pie”:

Meaning: Making an apology and suffering humiliation along with it.

Okay honestly, I’ve never heard anyone say this. I came across it during my “research”, but if it’s good enough for BuzzFeed, it’s good enough for me.

This could also be two things; During the Middle Ages, the lord of a manor would hold a feast after hunting. He would receive the finest cut of meat at the feast, but those of a lower societal place were served up a pie filled with the entrails and innards, known as “umbles.” Therefore, receiving “umble pie” was considered humiliating because it informed others in attendance of the guest’s lower status.

Or alternatively, a quote from the great Kendrick Lamar.

“Kick the bucket”:

Meaning: To die.

I was actually thinking about this one the other day when I was preparing to be in a bit of trouble about a getting caught skipping class to get a KFC go-bucket incident, and my little friend Sasenie let a big evil pun grin spread across her face as she informed me I was “about to kick the bucket”.

It came from when a cow was slaughtered; a bucket was placed under it while it was positioned on a pulley. Sometimes the animal’s legs would kick during the adjustment of the rope, and it would kick the bucket before being killed.

“Get up on the wrong side of the bed”:

Meaning: Waking up in a bad mood.

I was thinking of some crazy story of a man stranded out at sea, and he fell off the side of his raft, and it didn’t end well for him if you catch my drift.

The left aspect of the body or anything having to do with the left was often associated and considered to be sinister (s/o to my left handers xo). To ward off evil; Innkeepers made sure the left side of the bed was pushed against a wall, so guests had no other option but to get up on the right side of the bed.

“Wear your heart on your sleeve”:

Meaning: Showing your intimate emotions honestly and openly.

I thought maybe there was a really gruesome rejection in the 1600’s or something Cleopatra did when she saw Mark Anthony cry like a baby over her. She was like “Nah this is shameful, kill him and stitch his ‘broken’ heart to his sleeve, so everyone knows he was wrong and stupid.”, “BTW Bartholemew, the world is a sphere, and I am a living God.” Jesus #3.

Also, question; the ancient Egyptians were recorded to have been around at the time of Jesus, right? Okay, and pharaohs were to become gods after their deaths right? So how come they didn’t tell they’re good friend Cesar before he got the sack to inform his Roman soldiers that if they killed the king of the Jews, the boy just becomes one with God?

But, back to the heart of the matter, “wear your heart on your sleeve” as an expression is first recorded as used in William Shakespeare’s Othello. Which I studied earlier THIS year (again, English teachers wassup).

It’s likely that the phrase comes from medieval jousts, where a ‘sleeve’ referred to a piece of armour which covered and protected the arm. Knights would often wear a lady’s token around their sleeve of armour.

However, In Shakespeare’s tragedy, it is the dishonest and villainous Iago who speaks these iconic words to his little mate Rodrigo:

Yeah, guess who memorised that quote ten million times. Thanks, “Willy Wobble sword”™ – my English teacher.

Train of thought”:

Meaning: “The interconnection in the sequence of ideas expressed during a connected discourse or thought, as well as the sequence itself, especially in discussion how this sequence leads from one idea to another.” – Thanks, Wikipedia.

Okay, back to the purpose of this post, The term ‘Train of thought’ was introduced and elaborated as early as in 1651 by Thomas Hobbes in his book Leviathan, which was written regarding societal structure and government, so the OG communist manifesto. The guy states;

Well, I think it’s safe to say Hobbes left his Marx on the world we see today, even only through this one idea and my unreasonably long contemplation/response to his phrase.