45 Curious Facts About Common Idioms & Phrases That Will Leave You Amazed

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26You can run but you can't hide

You can run but you can't hide

The common phrase "You can run but you can't hide" dates back to a taunt made by boxer Joe Louis during his fight against Billy Conn in 1941.

27. The idiom "drinking the Kool-Aid" comes from the 1978 Jonestown mass suicide, where over 900 people (almost 300 of which were children) deliberately or forcibly drank a powdered soft drink flavoring agent (Flavor Aid) mixed with cyanide.

28. The phrase 'Knock on Wood' derives from the pagan belief that malevolent spirits inhabited wood and that if you expressed a hope for the future you should touch, or knock on, wood to prevent the spirits from hearing and presumably preventing your hopes from coming true.

29. The phrase "Until the bitter end" doesn't refer to feelings of bitterness, but instead is a Nautical term referring to the end of an Anchor, known as "The Bitter."

30. The phrase 'all the way to the bank' was popularized by Liberace. When a journalist implied Liberace was gay, he sent him a telegram saying "What you said hurt me very much. I cried all the way to the bank." It became his catchphrase after repeating it to reporters while suing the newspaper.

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31Long in the tooth

Long in the tooth

While getting "long in the tooth" was originally an idiom regarding horses having less gum/longer teeth in older age, it is now slang in the dental field for gingival (gum) recession, where people, usually men, literally become long in the tooth in old age.

32. The phrase “Cut to the chase” comes from silent movies which often ended with a chase scene. When the film had boring, or too much dialogue executives would say this phrase to the directors.

33. The phrase 'crocodile tears' refers to a medieval belief that crocodiles shed tears of sadness when killing and consuming their prey.

34. Prolonged exposure to felt containing high levels of mercury would cause mental dysfunction in 18th-century hat makers, ushering in the phrase “As mad as a hatter.”

35. "Ship coal to Newcastle" is a British idiom meaning to do a pointless action because Newcastle produces so much coal. Timothy Dexter shipped coal to Newcastle and made a huge profit.

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36To go the extra mile

To go the extra mile

The idiom "to go the extra mile" originates from a law that used to force Jewish natives to carry Roman soldier's equipment for 1 mile. The nice ones went 2.

37. "Losing my religion" is an old phrase from the Southern USA meaning someone's about to lose their temper or reach the end of their rope.

38. The idiom "Pipe Dream" refers to visions experienced as a result of taking opiates and not the vain hope of an impossible situation.

39. The phrase "as smooth as a milkmaid's skin" comes from the fact that milkmaids were often exposed to cowpox, giving them partial immunity to smallpox and leaving their skin free of pox scars.

40. The phrase "[murdered] in cold blood" doesn't refer to someone being cruel. It refers to the killer having had time to think over the crime and still do it in a calculated way. As opposed to doing it in the "heat of passion", their blood had time to cool before they committed the crime.

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41Crab mentality

Crab mentality

"Crab mentality" describes selfish, short-sighted thinking best described by the phrase "if I can't have it, neither can you."

42. The phrase "Die Hard" was coined in 1811 by an English officer during a battle in the Napoleonic Wars. He was wounded but refused to leave the field, telling his outnumbered regiment to "die-hard" against the French troops.

43. The phrase “balls to the wall” comes from aviation. Ball-shaped handles controlled the throttle and fuel and putting these handles closer to the wall resulted in the fastest possible speed.

44. The phrase 'It's raining cats and dogs' originated from the tendency of dead animals to be washed away following periods of heavy rain in the filthy streets of 17th century England.

45. The idiom “blue blood” which was used to describe those of noble birth, derives from their superficial veins appearing blue on untanned skin. Tanned skin was associated with the working class and peasantry who spent most of their time outdoors.

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