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Where Does It Come From? (Part 2)

crocodile tears

Going to pot – A reference dating back to the 16th century shows that in pre – fridge times when meat was hardening and no longer edible, it would be chopped into small pieces and cooked in a stew – pot. Thus, someone or something past its best would be described as having “gone to pot”.

To knock the daylights out of someone – In olden times “daylights” was slang for a person’s eyes. In these times, bare – knuckle boxing was popular, so to beat the daylights out of a person meant that both his eyes were so badly swollen he could no longer see.

To make a pig’s ear out of something – This dates back to the middle ages when the only part of a pig which would not be used or eaten was the ear. Thus, if someone makes a mess of carrying out a task they would have made a “pig’s ear” of it.

To be thrown in the clink – Meaning to be put in jail. The clink was one of England’s oldest prisons, located in Southwark, London, since the 13th Century. Southwark was a borough and was exempt from the jurisdiction of the City of London. Thus, it could make its own rules and doled out extreme punishments. It was destroyed by rioters in 1780.

Crocodile Tears – A term showing insincerity in sorrow, crocodiles after eating shed excess salt from glands, located beneath each eye, giving the impression of crying. The ancient Egyptians believed that the crocodile was remorseful after devouring its victim and would appear to cry. They then applied these tears to insincere people.

To tie the knot – Means getting married. In Sikh weddings, both bride and groom wear a silk scarf and the bride’s father knots these scarves together, uniting with the couple with an unbreakable knot symbolising their commitment for life.

A laughing Stock – In Medieval England, a petty criminal would have their hands and feet secured in a wooden frame or stock. The village folk would laugh and pelt these people with the rotten vegetables. Thus, the expression “to be made a laughing stock”.

All in the same boat – This saying comes from a nautical origin. In times of danger, should a ship, everyone from the lowly deck hand to the captain, would gone down with the ship, all suffering the same fate. Thus “all in the same boat”.

Fountain News DigitalThis article was originally published in:
Fountain News Digital – December 2010 (Issue 2)

We are re-publishing all articles from our past newsletter, Fountain News Digital, and you can view all completed newsletters here. There were nine issues published in total between 2010 and 2012.

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