9
votes
1answer
217 views

“… gets my goat”. What's my goat and why does it get it?

To get someone's goat is make them annoyed or irritated. But what is the goat and why does getting it annoy them? When and where does the phrase come from? What's the first known use?
22
votes
6answers
2k views

Phrase: “Colder than a witch’s kiss!”

The following was used in a radio broadcast (The Adventures of Harry Lime, 14th December 1951, episode 20 “An Old Moorish Custom”) as Harry was hit on the back of his head with a rifle butt by a giant ...
1
vote
1answer
146 views

Who translated “He's a muddled fool, full of lucid intervals.” [closed]

I have revised herein my question of Aug 18 and update my research based on the most helpful suggestions of Peter Schor and tchrist of Aug 18, 2013. I'm not a Cervantista and don't speak Spanish. ...
12
votes
4answers
1k views

Where did the adage, “Love the sinner, hate the sin,” come from?

In connection with my questions about the meaning of Pope Francis’s, remarks - 'Who am I to judge?' / 'You can add more water to the beans'. I found the following statement in a New York Times (July ...
11
votes
1answer
289 views

Meaning of “match Greek with Greek”

From Christmas Storms and Sunshine by Elizabeth Gaskell (4th paragraph): Jenkins had his wife too. Wives were wanting to finish the completeness of the quarrel, which existed one memorable ...
1
vote
1answer
512 views

Origin of the phrase “That is how it is” [closed]

Where does this come from? That is how it is.
3
votes
4answers
12k views

What is the origin of “wake up and smell the roses”

Where did this saying come from, and what is its true meaning?
15
votes
1answer
10k views

I'm British, so should I take a rain cheque?

I want to write the phrase "take a rain cheque" and am British. Should I therefore use the British spelling of the word cheque, or respect the baseball origin of the phrase "rain check" and use the ...
4
votes
4answers
14k views

What is the origin of the phrase “two nations divided by a common language”?

What is the origin of the phrase "two nations divided by a common language"? I have seen it attributed to Oscar Wilde, George Bernard Shaw and even Winston Churchill. The most likely looking source ...
12
votes
4answers
13k views

Is it “a tough row to hoe?”, or “a tough road to hold?”

Is it an old farming metaphor, or a military saying? Where did this(these) saying(s) originate?
5
votes
2answers
7k views

What is the origin of “A cat in hell's chance”

What is the origin of the phrase: "A cat in hell's chance"? I understand it to mean "not a chance", but it seems a very curious saying and I wonder how it originated. e.g. Bob: Do you ...
4
votes
2answers
7k views

Why is the term “double-edged sword” used for something that can be favorable and unfavorable?

When something can have both favorable and unfavorable consequences, the term double-edged sword is often used to describe it. Why? Does a double-edged sword have unfavorable consequences? Are ...
1
vote
2answers
2k views

“The crying baby gets the milk”

Where does the saying "The crying baby gets the milk" come from? I don't think it's from English.
8
votes
8answers
5k views

To “have someone's number”

Where does the saying I've got your number come from?
8
votes
2answers
8k views

What's the origin of the saying, “There's no accounting for taste”?

I hear it all the time in arguments over subjective judgements: There's no accounting for taste. Where does this saying come from? Is it a quote or old proverb?
6
votes
3answers
5k views

Origin of “spill the beans”

I believe this phrase means "to betray information". Could someone please explain its origin?
1
vote
2answers
2k views

Put two and two together…and got five?

I know the phrase "put two and two together", and in fact someone has already asked a question regarding its origin. However, I recently heard someone say the phrase with an addition of the humorous ...
11
votes
3answers
22k views

Origin of the phrase “Now we're cooking with _”

I have heard this phrase as: Now we're cooking with gas. Now we're cooking with grease. Now we're cooking with heat. Now we're cooking with fire. Which of these is the original version, and ...
5
votes
6answers
18k views

What is the origin of the saying, “faint heart never won fair lady”?

Having heard the phrase, "faint heart never won fair lady" for the third time in very short span, I'm determined to find out its origin. Unfortunately, when I Google, I'm getting a bunch of ...
2
votes
2answers
326 views

Ways to ruin a hobby

Variations The best way to ruin a hobby is to make it a career. The fastest way to ruin a hobby is to try to make money with it. The quickest way to ruin a hobby is to make it a job. What's the ...
18
votes
7answers
85k views

What is the meaning and origin of the common phrase “the world is your oyster”?

What does the world is your oyster mean, and where does it come from?
5
votes
2answers
12k views

“Tit for tat”—Where does this come from?

I always ask myself where this saying originates. I only know the individual words, tit and tat, but why is this a saying?
7
votes
9answers
26k views

Is it 'Close to the chest' or 'Close to the vest'?

Apologies if this is a duplicate, I am just curious. Are they both valid? Which originated first?
15
votes
4answers
444 views

“The whole nine yards”

What is the origin of the phrase "the whole nine yards"? Is it a reference to some game of sports I am not familiar with (as a continental European)?