Origins of Idioms and Catch Phrases


There are plenty of twists and turns of phrase that we use each and every day that have lost their definition or have come to mean different things than originally intended. Did you know the following idioms and catch phrases had quite different origins?

Break A Leg

Commonly known in theatre to mean “good luck,” but did you know this phrase originated from famous actor and infamous assassin John Wilkes Booth? When he blasted Abraham Lincoln in the head as he sat in his second floor balcony seat, Booth jumped from the balcony onto the stage and promptly broke his leg… after the performance of a lifetime.

Easy Does It

See: Whore.

Cold Shoulder

Jameson Schindrake inspired this phrase in the 1600’s after his wife sat in his study chair for three days straight with her back to him and said not a single word. Schindrake naturally assumed he was being shunned for considering her emotions to be crap or ogling the breasts of others. In actuality she wasn’t ignoring Jameson but had swallowed an excess of sandstone rocks.; her shoulders were simply ice-cold every time he touched her because she was dead.

New York Minute

2004 American teen comedy film starring the Olsen Twins.

Stealing Someone’s Thunder

Based on a childhood prank by Poseidon in which he literally stole his brother  Zeus’ thunderbolts.

Bond, James Bond

Unbeknownst to most, Ian Fleming started his career as a failed commercial writer for popular products of his day. This phrase originated from a dismissed advertising campaign: “Bond, Gold Bond medicated powder.” With all the free time he got after being fired, Fleming created the now infamous character and phrase.

Ditch Class

Originates from the turn of the 20th century  irrigation classes on ditch digging.

State Of The Art

The presidential speech about painting, sculpture, printmaking, photography and other visual media that used to immediately precede the State of the Union.

Get Lost!

Common phrase  in which fans of ABC’s LOST tried to expose the popular drama to their friends. Though it usually made people hate LOST even more than the series finale did.

Beat A Dead Horse

This relatively new idiom made its debut at the 1973 Kentucky Derby when forerunner and odds-favored Attention, All Shoppers collapsed in the final stretch of a heart attack which allowed Dick Face to pull ahead for the win. Ultimately it was considered to be a worthless win since Dick Face technically beat a dead horse.

Can’t Make Heads or Tails Of

Common state of confusion in regards to identifying which part of Nickelodeon’s CatDog is the front or back.

It’s Morphin’ Time!

Popularized by the beloved children’s show Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers, but originally introduced by those goddamn shape-shifting reptilians as a battle-cry prior to body snatching.

Low Blow

Cheap cocaine.

I Know Kung-Fu

Often misconstrued as Keanu Reeves knowing the art of Kung-Fu, when really he merely stated that he knew the WORD “kung-fu” as well as many other Chinese words such as “Bok Choy,” “Mahjong” and “Gojira.”

Know Something Backwards and Forward

A very “wordy” way, or layman’s term, to refer to palindromes.

Go With The Flow

Comforting advice for all young women on their menstrual cycle.

A Blessing in Disguise

The fake mustache was a dead giveaway though.

Suicide Watch

The original suicide watch was a group of schadenfreudes who took pleasure in watching the self-murder of others.

Curiosity Killed The Cat

This phrase originated from Victorian-era nobility. The royal dog’s name was “Curiosity.”

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