In a recent Skout blog, we looked at the origins of some of our favourite everyday phrases and sayings. In B2B PR, we obviously use a lot of words so this subject fascinates me, so here are some others I’ve come across, taken from a new book out entitled ‘As Right as Rain.’
Caught between a rock and a hard place
When first used in the US in the 20s, this expression referred specifically to mine workers in Arizona. A banking crisis had caused problems for mining companies that refused workers’ demands for better pay and conditions. The miners were therefore faced with the choice of putting up with the uncomfortable status quo or seeking work elsewhere and this expression was used by journalists writing about their plight.
As bald as a coot
This expression, meaning completely bald has its origins in the 15th century and is actually rather unfair to the bird it refers to. Coots have a white, featherless frontal plate and it gives the impression of receding hair. But from the crown of the head, all down the back to the tail, they are black and no balder than the average bird.
To go berserk
The Berserkers were wild Norse warriors of great strength and courage who fought with a frenzied fury known as ‘the berserkers rage.’
Goody two shoes
Miss Goody two shoes began as a tale in 1765 of an orphan called Margery Meanwell who was so poor she had only one pair of shoes. When a kind gent gave her a new pair she was so excited she ran around pointing out to everyone she met that she had two shoes. Using the expression to refer to a smug goody goody came along in the 19th century and in 1922 it appeared in James Joyce’s Ulysses.