From everyday idioms to Shakespearian sayings
Many of the phrases we use everyday are so woven into our vocabulary that we never think to question their origin or meaning. How often we comfort the broken-hearted with the reassurance that there are ‘plenty more fish in the sea’, or ruin a surprise by ‘letting the cat out of the bag’. We don’t really mean our friend should consider dating a fish, nor do we keep cats in bags, but we use these phrases regardless. Did you know that telling someone to ‘get off their high horse’ comes from the 13th century? Or that ‘hair of the dog’ wasn’t originally a hangover cure, but a belief that applying a dog hair to a dog bite would cure the wound? In the times of Roman Baths, getting the ‘wrong end of the stick’ didn’t translate as a simple misunderstanding, it actually referred to a communal toilet where a stick was used to pass a cloth from person to person, unfortunately some would often receive the wrong end...
The Little Book of Clichés explores the history and meanings behind hundreds of phrases that we use, from everyday idioms to Shakespearian sayings.