Funny Origins Behind Idioms You Use All the Time

Have you ever “let the cat out of the bag”? How about those times you “fly off the handle”? Some

mail carrier secrets, booksHave you ever “let the cat out of the bag”? How about those times you “fly off the handle”? Some old-school phrases are so deeply engrained in our vocabulary, we never take the time to think about what they really mean. After reading this list on Neatorama, I felt enlightened. Learn the origins of popular sayings:

 Fly off the handle: In the days before mass merchandising, poorly fastened axe heads would fly off while they were in use. The result was dangerous; hence why the phrase is used to describe risky behavior with unpredictable results.

Steal someone’s thunder: In the early 1700s, English dramatist John Dennis invented a device that imitated the sound of thunder for a play he was working on. The play flopped. Soon after, Dennis noted that another play in the same theater was using his sound-effects device. He angrily exclaimed, “That is my thunder, by God; the villains will play my thunder, but not my play.” The story got around London, and the phrase was born.

Chew the fat: Originally a sailor’s term this phrase refers to they days before refrigeration when ships carried food that wouldn’t spoil. One of them was salted pork skin, which consisted largely of fat. Sailors would only eat it if all other food was gone… and they often complained as they did. This idle chatter became known as “chewing the fat.”

More like this: Ye olde urban legends and their origins »

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Originally Published in Reader's Digest