Sayings and meanings

Let the cat out of the bag

Meaning to reveal a secret, “letting the cat out of the bag” finds its roots in 18th-century street fraud. Suckling pigs were often sold in bags, and a popular scheme was to replace the pig with a cat and sell it to an unwitting victim.

Don’t look a gift horse in the mouth

Horses’ gums recede with age, leading to longer teeth. A common way to inspect a horse’s “worth” is to check its mouth, hence the phrase. Receiving a horse as a gift and immediately inspecting its value was considered offensive, much like inquiring about the worth of a present today is rude.

You’re pulling my leg

Meaning to tease someone or jokingly lie to them, “pulling one’s leg” actually has sinister origins, rooted in the criminal world of the 18th century. Street thieves would literally pull victims down by their leg in order to more easily rob them.

Eating crow

To eat crow means to admit fault or be proved wrong after taking a strong position. The Bible lists crow as unfit for eating, and along with buzzards and rats, it was actually illegal to eat crow in the Middle Ages. As such, it was notably humiliating to consume.

Break a leg

The term “break a leg” originates in theatre. Since superstitions run rampant in the theatre, it’s not surprising to learn that wishing someone good luck outright is actually considered bad luck. Instead, it was more suitable to wish ill will on someone before a performance, since the opposite was supposed to occur.

*Courtesy BuzzFeed

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Sayings and meanings

Sayings and meanings

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  AUTHOR
Julie Maule
News Editor

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