Where did these everyday sayings come from?

Well according to Business Insider UK…

If you are very drunk, you may be “three sheets to the wind.” The phrase comes from having a ship’s sails properly fastened.

According to researchers, “sheets” refer to the ropes that fasten a sail. If one of your sheets isn’t properly tied down, the ship would become difficult to control and would be “to the wind,” or moving erratically.

To “fly by the seats of your pants,” or improvise without a clear plan, was popularized after Douglas Corrigan’s 29-hour flight from Brooklyn to Dublin in 1938.

To "fly by the seats of your pants," or improvise without a clear plan, was popularized after Douglas Corrigan's 29-hour flight from Brooklyn to Dublin in 1938.

Wikimedia Commons

Corrigan’s plane returning to NYC.

The phrase was used in a 1938 headline in The Edwardsville Intelligencer to describe Corrigan’s off-book flight. He was meant to fly to California, but diverted his plane to Dublin instead.

One mechanic said Corrigan “flies by the seat of his pants,” which was said to be an old flying expression for going aloft without instruments or radio.

“Bite the bullet,” or doing something unpleasant, comes from when soldiers would bite a bullet when they were being operated on without anesthetic.

"Bite the bullet," or doing something unpleasant, comes from when soldiers would bite a bullet when they were being operated on without anesthetic.

Justin Sullivan / Getty

There is some debate over whether or not this is true. The phrase has been in use since 1796 and has always meant to have a “stiff upper lip” before doing something you don’t want to do.

It may have come from a belief that people can derive courage from biting a bullet, according to researchers.

A very close-up or right-on target is “point blank.” It comes from the French “point blanc,” and refers to the center of the target for shooting or archery practice.

“Point blanc” literally translates as a white point, and refers to the dead center of the target.

If you’re “separating the wheat from the chaff,” you’re distinguishing between quality and worthlessness. The phrase actually comes from the Bible.

If you're "separating the wheat from the chaff," you're distinguishing between quality and worthlessness. The phrase actually comes from the Bible.

Wikimedia Commons

In Matthew 3:12, John the Baptist says, “His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing floor, gathering his wheat into the barn and burning up the chaff with unquenchable fire.”

We can thank Shakespeare for committing the phrase “Carry your heart on your sleeve” — or being transparent — to paper. Iago famously says it in “Othello.”

In Othello Act 1 Scene 1, Iago says “But I will wear my heart upon my sleeve…” meaning he would be exposed.

If you do something by the “skin of your teeth,” you’re barely managing to do it. One of the first recordings of this phrase is from the Bible.

If you do something by the "skin of your teeth," you're barely managing to do it. One of the first recordings of this phrase is from the Bible.

Madison Malone Kircher/Tech Insider

In Job 19:20, Job says, “My bone clings to my skin and to my flesh, / And I have escaped by the skin of my teeth.”

“Bob’s your uncle” is a British exclamation that means you’ve achieved something simply. Although its origin is debated, many researchers believe it derives from the nepotism of Lord Salisbury.

In 1886, Prime Minister Robert Gascoyne-Cecil (Lord Salisbury) surprisingly made Arthur Balfour Chief Secretary of Ireland; Balfour was ‘Bob’s’ favorite nephew. 

A “kangaroo court” means that there has been a fast and unfair legal procedure. It likely comes from during the Gold Rush when American courts would skip procedures for quick sentencing.

A "kangaroo court" means that there has been a fast and unfair legal procedure. It likely comes from during the Gold Rush when American courts would skip procedures for quick sentencing.

REUTERS/Stefan Postles

Even though Kangaroos are native to Australia, this phrase dates back to the 19th century Gold Rush in America. 

The most likely origin of the phrase, according to researchers, is that people who saw the quick sentencing in American courts during this time likened it to kangaroos hopping or skipping.

If you “win hands down,” you’re winning without a great effort.

If you "win hands down," you're winning without a great effort.

Jamie Squire/Getty Images

In horse racing, a jockey who’s winning by a wide margin doesn’t need to whip his horse to go faster, and can win with his “hands down. “The phrase soon caught on outside the sporting world.

If you’re “eating humble pie,” you’re submitting to something below your dignity or admitting that you’re wrong. It refers to eating a meal for the poor.

If you're "eating humble pie," you're submitting to something below your dignity or admitting that you're wrong. It refers to eating a meal for the poor.

Shutterstock

If you do something impossible, it’s “through the eye of the needle.” In the Bible, Jesus said it was easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to get to heaven.

Whether you’re interested in History, or whether English is more your bag, take a look through the courses we have on offer here at The Sheffield College by giving the link a little click!

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