common English phrases history - BMW S1000RR Riders Forum & Registry



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  1. #1
    Richard230's Avatar
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    Here is an interesting historical explanation of common English language phrases that a friend sent to me. I can't guarantee that they are correct, but they sound right to me:

    1 .. WHY?
    Do men's clothes have buttons on the right while women's clothes have buttons on the left?
    BECAUSE
    When buttons were invented, they were very expensive and worn primarily by the rich. Since most people are right-handed, it is easier to push buttons on the right through holes on the left. Because wealthy women were dressed by maids, dressmakers put the buttons on the maid's right! And that's where women's buttons have remained since.

    2 .. WHY?
    Why do ships and aircraft use 'mayday' as their call for help?
    BECAUSE
    This comes from the French word m'aidez - meaning 'help me' - and is pronounced, approximately, 'mayday.'

    3 .. WHY?
    Why are zero scores in tennis called 'love'?
    BECAUSE
    In France , where tennis became popular, the round zero on the scoreboard looked like an egg and was called 'l'oeuf,' which is French for 'the egg.' When tennis was introduced in the US, Americans (naturally), mispronounced it 'love.'

    4 .. WHY?
    Why do X's at the end of a letter signify kisses?
    BECAUSE
    In the Middle Ages, when many people were unable to read or write, documents were often signed using an X. Kissing the X represented an oath to fulfill obligations specified in the document. The X and the kiss eventually became synonymous.

    5 .. WHY?
    Why is shifting responsibility to someone else called passing the buck'?
    BECAUSE
    In card games, it was once customary to pass an item, called a buck, from player to player to indicate whose turn it was to deal. If a player did not wish to assume the responsibility of dealing, he would 'pass the buck' to the next player.

    6 .. WHY?
    Why do people clink their glasses before drinking a toast?
    BECAUSE
    In earlier times it used to be common for someone to try to kill an enemy by offering him a poisoned drink. To prove to a guest that a drink was safe, it became customary for a guest to pour a small amount of his drink into the glass of the host Both men would drink it simultaneously. When a guest trusted his host, he would only touch or clink the host's glass with his own.

    7.. WHY?
    Why are people in the public eye said to be 'in the limelight'?
    BECAUSE
    Invented in 1825, limelight was used in lighthouses and theatres by burning a cylinder of lime which produced a brilliant light. In the theatre, a performer 'in the limelight' was the Centre of attention.

    8 .. WHY?
    Why is someone who is feeling great 'on cloud nine'?
    BECAUSE
    Types of clouds are numbered according to the altitudes they attain, with nine being the highest cloud. If someone is said to be on cloud nine, that person is floating well above worldly cares.

    9 .. WHY?
    In golf, where did the term 'Caddie' come from?
    BECAUSE
    When Mary Queen of Scots went to France as a young girl, Louis, King of France, learned that she loved the Scots game 'golf.' He had the first course outside of Scotland built for her enjoyment. To make sure she was properly chaperoned (and guarded) while she played, Louis hired cadets from a military school to accompany her. Mary liked this a lot and when she returned to Scotland (not a very good idea in the long run), she took the practice with her. In French, the word cadet is pronounced 'ca-day' and the Scots changed it into caddie.

    10 ... WHY?
    Why are many coin collection jar banks shaped like pigs?
    BECAUSE
    Long ago, dishes and cookware in Europe were made of dense orange clay called 'pygg'. When people saved coins in jars made of this clay, the jars became known as 'pygg banks.' When an English potter misunderstood the word, he made a container that resembled a pig. And it caught on.
    Richard - Current bikes: 2016 BMW R1200RS, 2018 16.6 kWh Zero S, 2011 Royal Enfield Bullet 500 Classic, 2009 BMW F650GS, 2020 KTM 390 Duke, 2002 Yamaha FZ1 (FZS1000N) and a 1978 Honda Kick 'N Go Senior. 

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  4. #2
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    Richard, these do sound reasonable, but ... I will bet that there are equally reasonable sounding explanations/stories that are completely different. Other languages than English likely have similar sayings and the origins are probably very different.

    Neat thread topic. I hope it is popular.
    Royce
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  5. #3
    Richard230's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Royce View Post
    Richard, these do sound reasonable, but ... I will bet that there are equally reasonable sounding explanations/stories that are completely different. Other languages than English likely have similar sayings and the origins are probably very different.

    Neat thread topic. I hope it is popular.
    I wouldn't be surprised if that was the case.
    Richard - Current bikes: 2016 BMW R1200RS, 2018 16.6 kWh Zero S, 2011 Royal Enfield Bullet 500 Classic, 2009 BMW F650GS, 2020 KTM 390 Duke, 2002 Yamaha FZ1 (FZS1000N) and a 1978 Honda Kick 'N Go Senior. 

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