Origins of Common Phrases: Dear All, In... - Positive Wellbein...

Positive Wellbeing During Self-Isolation

9,815 members9,932 posts

Origins of Common Phrases

AndrewT profile image

Dear All,

In another context, a few of us 'Talked' about the Origins of Common phases. I do know, a number, of these Origins and thought I might share some.

I'll start with 'The Graveyard Shift' and 'A Dead Ringer', which are related. Years ago, and this is a horrible thought, when Bodies had to be Exhumed- for any reason- Scratch Marks, were often found on the coffin lids. The Horrible Truth was 'they' had been burying people ALIVE! Clearly there needed to be a way, that people thought to be dead, could communicate that this Wasn't the case. To this ends a rope was run, out of the coffin, to a bell, above ground. Anyone ringing this bell was a 'Dead Ringer'. Since many of these 'Dead Ringers' happened at night, the burials having happened earlier in the day, the Cemeteries needed to be checked throughout the night- hence 'Grave Yard Shift'. I'll bet many Dead Ringers, were glad of the Graveyard Shift!

Many people think that Hunt Saboteurs are a, fairly new, phenomenon.....NOT so, at all. In Days gone by people, who opposed the Hunts, would Smoke a Herring- or other fish- until it was Red and therefore Highly Pungent. This 'Red Herring' was then pulled behind a horse, to leave a False Trail, for the dogs to follow.

Finally, for now anyway, the word 'Cheerio'. In Olden Times, before drains, sewers and so forth, people simply threw 'Everything' (yes even That) into the streets. Clearly the Local Dignitaries didn't want to get themselves, how can I put this, 'Shitted Up'. To this ends, they were carried in a kind of Sudan Chair- have you ever noticed the raised Pavements outside Civic Buildings, in some of the older Villages? At the end of the evening, when 'these days' cabs would be called, 'Chair Ho' would be called out to summon the Chairs. By the time, this call, had reached to Bottom of the Stairs, it had become 'Chair- ere- oh' which was Misheard, by the Dignitaries as 'Cheerio'. Hence 'Cheerio Old Bean...…

To not 'Give a Monkeys', it's a Monkeys Luck actually. A Berk is a Berk-shire Hunt, originally quite an insult. A 'Gussunder', or 'Gus Under', is a Chamber Pot that 'Goes Under' the bed.

I do know a number more but would be, very interested, to hear from others- especially if you know some Regional Phrases.

Look forward to hearing, from you all, 'Muckers'.