3 Very Common English Idioms And Its Surprising Origins

You have been using these idioms every day with no idea about its origins, until today.

3 Very Common English Idioms And Its Surprising Origins
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Idioms are very interesting and important part of the English language. Idioms, essentially, help us say A LOT in a very few words. Idioms are fun to use and interesting to read, thus making the language more exciting. The unique aspect of an idiom is that it is common to a certain population (mostly native) and thus, a prior understanding of its usage is usually necessary. But, have you ever wondered where these ever-present idioms actually originated from? Almost every idiom has a story, let us explore a few of these-

“Pull Someone’s Leg”

Now, we don't literally PULL someone's leg. Do we?
Now, we don’t literally PULL someone’s leg. Do we?

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In the English language, the idiom “to pull someone’s leg” means joking or fooling with someone. While the idiom is used with a very casual and light overtone now, its origin is anything but funny. Originally, it was a method used by thieves to capture the pedestrians and subsequently rob them. During the theft, one thief would be assigned ‘tripper up’ duty. The job of thief would be to make the pedestrian fall on the ground. Hence the “Pull someone’s leg” connotation! Thank God, the context is SO DIFFERENT today.

“Spill The Beans”

In the English language, the idiom “Spill the beans” means to leak a secret. Now if you think about it, how on earth can spilling beans be related to leaking secrets? Apparently, it is. According to an ancient Greek voting process involving beans, people would vote by placing one of two colored beans in a vase. Get it? Let me explain. This meant, that if someone spilled the beans, the secret results of the election would be out. Hence, spilling the beans eventually started meaning “leaking a secret”.

“Meeting A Deadline”

Do you meet your deadlines? At least you don't get shot if you don't :P
Do you meet your deadlines? At least you don’t get shot if you don’t 😛

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In the English language, the idiom “Meeting a deadline” means to finish something by a predetermined time. Now this one’s just as interesting as it sounds. The origin of this idiom goes back to the prison camps during the Civil War, where a line was drawn to demarcate the boundaries for the prisoners. But why call it deadline and not just a line? Well because, any prisoner who tried to cross it was shot. Oops.

There are many more interesting idioms and their even more interesting origins. We shall take them up in another article!