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History of Common Words and Phrases Part 1

When it comes to popular words and phrases, there is a history attached to each and every expression made in the English language. Have you ever stopped to wonder where some of these sayings and figures of speech came from and how old some of these phrases we use today may be? In this article, we will take a look at some of the infamous words and phrases that has become part of our usual vocabulary.

In England, the early years of feudal rule saw that each shire had a reeve who was in charge of making sure the law was upheld throughout the shire. Over time, these individuals were called shire reeve, but as the term made its way to America, it was shortened to sheriff.

An old English law is where the phrase “rule of thumb” originated. According to this rule, a man was not allowed to beat his wife with anything that was wider than his thumb.

Before little children ever heard the phrase, “sleep tight, don’t let the bed bugs bite,” the phrase “sleep tight” was quite popular. Before we were afforded the luxuries of today’s sleeptime environment, mattresses were set upon ropes that were woven through the bed frame. Sometimes, the ropes would sag and as a solution, people used bed keys to tighten the ropes.

When answering the telephone, people didn’t always say “hello” to whoever was on the other end. During the beginning of the first regular phone service that was established in 1878, people answered the phone with an “ahoy.”

During the late part of the 19th century and earlier in the 20th century, gramophones and phonographs were quite popular, as they were used to amplify sound with the help of a large horn. Sometimes, socks made out of wool were stuffed inside of the horn to decrease the sound, which led to the phrase , “put a sock in it.”

You’d probably have never guessed where the phrase, “son of a gun” came from in a million years. In the past, women were actually allowed to live on naval ships. When pregnant women gave birth on the ship, they were hidden behind a screen made of canvas that was often positioned near the middle of the ship gun. When the paternity of the child was of question, they were entered into the log as “son of a gun.”

Did you know that Shakespeare is responsible for inventing the words, “assassination” and “bump.”

Abracadabra is a word that is often associated with magic, but did you know that it was originally meant to help people cure their hay fever?

Amphibious is a word that comes from Greek words that refer to living a double life. The origin of these words pay homage to amphibians, who can thrive on land and in the water.

In Part 2 of ” History of Common Words and Phrases,” you will learn about the origins of a dreaded medical ailment, as well as the German legend that explains where a curious flower name comes from.