Phrases we Use and Their Origins #4 – The D’s

This has taken me a loooooong time to write. Namely, because I have had literally no spare time within which to do it. However, I’ve finally got around to it.

1. Daft as a Brush

This is a phrase which has its origins lie where one would least expect. Many would assume that the type of brush being referred to here would be a hair brush, or at the very least a brush with which to do sweeping. However, it actually concerns a fox’s brush – that is, its tail, chimney sweeps, and Northerners.

Let’s start with the first definition of ‘brush’. Fox tails and stoles were increasingly popular with ladies who could afford to purchase them in the Victorian era and early 20th century. Largely because they are very soft to the touch, despite the fact that these animals were considered vermin and lived in wild conditions which would lead to the pelts of most animals becoming matted. Also,whereas many animal furs would be coarse and uncomfortable to the wearer (although necessary for the purpose of making fashionable and social statements), fox tails did not itch or irritate the skin when worn.

The second definition concerns the young boys who would be employed as chimney sweeps, and encouraged to scurry up and down chimneys all day in order to earn a few pence with which to help support their families. It goes without saying that this job was a dangerous one; the inhalation of the coal dust alone would have been enough to send one into coughing fits. However, one of the greatest dangers was presented by the threat of being dropped. On many occasions, those who would be charged with ensuring the boys did not fall down the structures would be overcome by weight and let go of the ropes which were attached to the waists of the boys. Due to the positions that they were often lowered in this would mean that when they eventually landed, they would more than likely land on their heads. In a number of cases, this would cause severe brain damage which would lead to the common societal misconception that these chimney sweeps were stupid. Or, by the Northern definition, ‘soft’.

Therefore, it could be reasonably ascertained that this phrase originated in the Victorian era, although it does not appear to have been used in print until 1956 in William Morgan Williams’s The Sociology of an English Villiage: Gosforth in which he wrote “The wives of two members of a kin-group locally thought to be eccentric and extremely unsociable were pointed out by several people as ‘gay queer’ and ‘daft as a brush’.” By this time, however, the use of young boys in chimney sweeping practices had all but died out, and the wearing of furs beginning to be considered morally reprehensible.

2. Dark Horse

This is a racing parlance, and one which was – and still is – used to describe an unexpected horse winning a race. These horses would not be previously known to those who wished to place bets, and as such they would often be ruled out as potential winning candidates. It is also possible (but wildly speculative and there is not much credibility in this theory) that, due to lighter coloured horses being considered superior (grays and bays), punters would not ‘waste’ bets on the darker coloured horses which would be raced as these were identified with working horses. As such, if one of these horses won, there would be much surprise on the faces of the spectators.

This phrase would seem to first appear in Benjamin Disraeli’s The Young Duke, which was first published in 1931. I’ve always been a fan of Disraeli’s writings, and believe that this description of a race from the novel is just superb: “A dark horse, which had never been thought of … rushed past the grand stand in sweeping triumph.”

3. Dock your pay

This is a phrase which I don’t think anyone would be particularly pleased to hear. Nobody wants to think that their performance has been sub-par, or that someone would try to swindle them out of their earnings. Unfortunately, this used to be common-place until laws were brought into play to protect the rights of employees.

Most people would associate the word ‘dock’ with shipyards or marinas, as it is a term which is most commonly used in association with all things nautical. However, in this case, it has a much more unusual association; animals. The Old English term ‘dock’ means “to cut short, particularly of the hair or tail of an animal”. In Britain, this was a practice which usually extended to shortening the tails of dogs – particularly breeds such as Dobermans and Boxers. Nowadays, it is very uncommon and very few people are willing to practice it due to restrictions and animal rights.

I bring you back to one of my favourite books again for this one, which I’ve mentioned previously: The Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer. This time, the phrase relevant to the trimming of the fur and appendages of animals can be found in The Reeve’s Tale. Chaucer wrote that “His heer was by his erys ful round yshorn; His top was dokked lyk a preest biforn”. It isn’t until 1783-7 though that the phrase appears in print to have been attributed to the practice of docking wages. Interestingly, this appears in the writings of James Madison, and individual who is recognised as one of the Founding Fathers. In The Writings of James Madison he writes “They…will not only be docked of their half-pay, but will run great hazard of being put off with regard to a great share of their other pay.” (Getty Images) (Getty Images)

4. Don’t throw the baby out with the bath water

This is an expression I absolutely love, but one which actually has some quite horrific history attached. It is well known that our ancestors weren’t the cleanest of people, as many references are made even in Victorian times to ‘yearly baths’. In these instances, a family would have one bath tub, the same water of which every individual in a family would be expected to bathe in.

As the head of the household, the father would bath first, followed by any grown or working sons. The next turn would be that of his wife, and then any younger sons and daughters would follow her according to their age. Naturally, the last to bathe would be the baby. By this point, due to the amount of dirt which would already have washed off the bath’s previous occupants, the water would be horrifically filthy. So filthy, in fact, that any objects which were dropped or lost in the bath would not be found by merely looking at the water. They would usually only be found when the tub was emptied. There are some who dismiss this theory as complete nonsense, however it is a proverb which has been in existence in Germany since the 1500’s and indeed appears in Thomas Wurners Narrenbeschworung in 1512, as “Schuttet das Kind mit dem Bade aus”. It was also a phrase which found itself being used in joke form among the mining families of Wales and the Northern England.

The alternative theory, is that of being an analogy to slavery which derives from Thomas Carlyle’s Occasional Discourse on the Nigger Question which was published in 1843. In it, he writes “And if true, it is important for us, in reference to this Negro Question and some others. The Germans say, “you must empty-out the bathing-tub, but not the baby along with it.” Fling-out your dirty water with all zeal, and set it careering down the kennels; but try if you can to keep the little child!” Many have wrongfully thought that here Carlyle has been advocating the abolishment of slavery, but instead merely means that he approved of the hiring of servants for life as long as they were paid.

Both arguments to have some credibility, however it is up to the individual to decide whether this expression relates merely to dirty bathing water or the more awful topic of slavery.


Phrases we Use and Their Origins #3 – The C’s

Apologies for this post taking so long to get written and published. I’ve had a rather tough week, with my younger sister being hospitalised, and starting my postgrad. As such I will be having to write this particular article once a week instead of every day (let’s be honest, it was a little ambitious!).

Anyway, A large number of the phrases that we use begin with the letter ‘C’. Literally hundreds of them. So many, in fact, that it has been incredibly difficult to whittle them down to a list of just five.

1. Caught red-handed

My parents use this phrase a lot, usually when they catch my sister and I dipping into the biscuit tin when we’re supposed to be on diets. Due to the fact that we’re almost constantly on diets, you can imagine that this is uttered quite a lot in our household.

Despite being used by my family to out biscuit stealers, the origin of the expression has nothing to do with them. Instead, it’s a straightforward reference to an individual carrying out a murder or being involved in poaching and being caught out so soon after the act that they hadn’t had time to wash the blood off their hands. Due to the simplicity of the legal system at the time of origin, it was not possible to prosecute someone for murder unless they were caught in the act or with damning evidence on their person.

It’s derived from the phrase ‘red hand’ which was coined in Scotland and dates back to 1432, where it was used in the Scottish Acts of Parliament of James I. As a result of this, the expression was extremely popular in Scottish legal proceedings and appears heavily in the print transcripts/minutes from the 15th century onwards. Sir George Mackenzie’s A Discourse Upon the Laws and Customs of Scotland in Matters Criminal he demonstrates that it was still in use in 1674, writing that “if he be not taken red-hand the sheriff cannot proceed against him.” This also alludes to the fact that the legal system was still extremely basic.

It wasn’t until 1819, when Sir Walter Scott published Ivanhoe, however, that we see the modern version of this saying appear in print, when Front-de-Boeuf brings it up in conversation. He states that he “did but tie one fellow, who was taken redhanded and in the fact, to the horns of a wild stag.” It is disputed, but widely accepted, however, that this is one of a numerous number of phrases coined by Walter Scott, although due to the fact he would have most likely been aware of the expression ‘red-hand’ before penning his novel. Regardless, due to the wide readership of his texts and their popular reception, it is likely that the expression could have found itself obsolete had he not included it in his writing.


2. Clod-Hopper

I’m not sure how often this phrase is used in households outside my own, but this is a word that my father uses to describe me on an almost daily basis. This is due to the fact that whilst I like to consider myself quite refined, I am awfully clumsy – especially when I find myself incredibly busy. As you can imagine, this is not helpful when it comes to completing tasks!

It is not known for sure where this word derives from, however logic dictates that it would be apt to attribute it to a grasshopper or a cricket. A clod is a lump of earth, exactly like the ones you find along country paths or in areas of London like Richmond Park, and these insects can quite often be found near these mounds.

Due to the word being linked to dirt and insects, it became synonymous with the countryside and those living there. Over time, it became a derogatory term to describe country folk who had stereotypically been termed unrefined and oafish by the time the of 1690 publication of A new dictionary of the terms ancient and modern of the canting crew. A clod-hopper is cited as being “a Ploughman.”


3. Come up trumps

‘Come up trumps’ is a modernised version of the 17th century phrase ‘to turn up trumps’. The word ‘trump’ is a variation of ‘triumph’, which was the name of a popular card game from the 1600s which is not dissimilar to Whist. In God-fearing times, playing card games was considered to be a sin (to be honest, this isn’t a shock as pretty much everything except going to church constituted a sin), however that didn’t prevent the preacher Hugh Latimer from one of his sermons from 1529. He preached that “the game that wee wyll playe at, shall bee called the triumphe… Lette therefore euery Christian manne and woman playe at these cardes.” For encouraging sinful activities, however, Latimer was punished, being burned at the stake.

In triumph, the trump suit is selected randomly by one the dealer ‘cutting’ the deck of cards. For the round, the trump cards would outrank other cards, regardless of their value, until a new suit was chosen. As a result, the expression quickly found itself becoming synonymous with success and soon was used in scenarios which had nothing to do with cards.

The 18th century saw the literal turn of the phrase being phased out, and the figurative becoming increasingly popular. It was eventually recorded in its figurative sense in Grose’s Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue, 1785, being defined as “Something may turn up trumps, something lucky may happen”. As time as worn on, the ‘turn’ part of the phrase has been faded out of use through the introduction of more modern language, the word ‘come’ being used in its favour.


4. Cost an arm and a leg.

This is one of those phrases which really does prove that teachers are not always right and,quite often, make stuff up to either entertain or shock their classes. Or, because they don’t really have much of a clue about the subject which they are teaching. I remember studying the Tudors at my English school, particularly how portraits would be altered to reflect what the monarch wished people to think about themselves and past kings (poor Richard III). Half way through the discussion, my teacher threw out this gem: “the reason you don’t see full length images of the poor is because they would cost an arm and a leg. Artists would charge by limb, because they were very difficult to draw, and only royalty could afford it.” This is something which I have believed for a long time as a result and, looking back on it, it’s a load of rubbish.The phrase is actually one which is more modern, coming into play after WWII and makes far more sense.

Following WWII, many soldiers who had fought in battle – and indeed many civilians who had found themselves in the middle of the bombings of their cities – were struggling to come to terms with their new lives, particularly those having lost limbs in combat. The newspapers played on the atrocities of the war for a long time, publishing interviews with individuals who had left parts of themselves on French, Japanese and Eastern European soil. It was accepted by the public that these individuals had paid the ultimate price for their freedom, as am arm or a leg isn’t something you would just trivially give away! Eventually, the phrase would find itself being used trivially in print, the symbolic weight of it being almost entirely lost. For example, The Long Beach Independent from December 1949 contains an article which states that “Food Editor Beulah Karney has more than 10 ideas for the homemaker who wants to say “Merry Christmas” and not have it cost her an arm and a leg.”

Despite the fact that many individuals have accepted this as the origin, I find it incredibly hard to believe that this is the case. This is largely due to the fact that there are many references to giving limbs being thrown about in literature from the 19th century. Indeed, an 1849 edition of Sharpe’s London Journal refers to it, stating that “he could gladly give his right arm to be cut off if it would make him, at once, old enough to go and earn money instead of Lizzy.” And the American publication, the Burlington Daily Hawk-Eye from July 1875 records that a “man who owes five years subscription to the Gazette is trying to stop his paper without paying up, and the editor is going to grab that back pay if it takes a leg.” It would appear that these came into being after the Napoleonic wars and the American Civil War respectively, which both have horror stories concerning butchered and unnecessary amputations attached to their names.

I am inclined to believe that the earlier turns of the phrase are where the origins of the saying lie. However, they did go out of use during WWII – most likely due to the sensitivities attached to the fact that soldiers were coming home having literally given their limbs for their country and the realities attached to the phrase. It was only when the public had begun to get more comfortable in post-war Britain and America that the expression was reintroduced, but in a modified way. Therefore, it could be an argument for postwar America coining the phrase as we recognise it.


5. Cut off your nose to spite your face.

This saying is one which I have been on the receiving end of many a time, usually when I was younger as I used to sulk a fair bit. It’s an old proverb which dates back to the reign of the Tudors and, although it doesn’t appear entirely in the form we use it currently, John Heywood’s A Dialogue Conteynyng Prouerbes and Epigrammes from 1562 does have an entry which is directly linked to it. It falls under the category “Of Spite”. Instead of referring to the nose, however, it refers to the eyes and is as follows:
“If there be any, as I hope there be none,
That would lese both his eyes to lese his foe one.
Then fear I there be many, as the world go’th,
That would lese one eye to lese their foes both.”

It wasn’t until the publication of The Classical Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue by John Grose (1796) that the expression was recorded in a manner which better represents the expression as we are familiar with it today. In the text, he refers to one individual who “cut off his nose to be revenged of his face. Said of one who, to be revenged on his neighbour, has materially injured himself.” As the language has evolved and become ‘less proper’ (as my grandmother has said many a time) the word ‘spite’ was adopted instead of revenge.


Again, I’m so sorry this has taken a long time to get up!

Phrases we Use and Their Origins #2 – The B’s

As with my post from the 13th September 2014, this post concerns itself with the phrases that we commonly use in our every day lives and their origins. The only exception is that I have moved on to the letter ‘B’.

1. Back to the Drawing Board

Unlike many of the phrases that I mentioned in yesterday’s post, the expression ‘back to the drawing board’ wasn’t coined until World War 2′, in a way to try and distract from the disappointment of many design failures during the period. After all, since these failures could have such grave consequences, the only way to keep from succumbing to stress and responsibility of a large number of lives lost was to keep humour going, as is the British fashion. Peter Arno, a much celebrated comic artist from the period, used the phrase in an image he created for the New Yorker in 1941, which shows military personnel and hangar crew hurriedly making their way towards a crashed plane. Meanwhile, the plane’s architect is walking away from the wreck with the plans rolled up under his arm, saying “Well, back to the old drawing board!”

It was also the Americans who first began widely using the phrase in popular publications such as the Walla Walla Union-Bulletin from December 1947. The paper stated that “Grid injuries for the season now closing suggest anew that nature get back to the drawing board, as the human knee is not only nothing to look at but also a piece of bum engineering.” Apparently, the most popular injury for sports stars of the period were knee injuries.

Despite appearance in numerous publications in the English speaking Western World, it wasn’t until the 1960’s that the phrase was wholeheartedly accepted as an expression to be used in every day life. By 1966, it had become so popular that it was used to name an episode of a TV series called ‘Get Smart’, and also used to title many books which were being published. Nowadays, we still use the phrase often. I know that I often used it with exasperation when essays at University weren’t turning out the way I wanted them to. In fact, I must have gone back to the drawing several times whilst writing them!


Peter Arno for the New Yorker

2. Ball and Chain

This expression is fantastic, and I won’t deny that I absolutely love it. Nowadays, it’s used affectionately (and sometimes not so affectionately) to refer to one’s spouse. Initially, it was used with reference to simply the wife, however as society has developed into a promoter of equal opportunities, it has now fondly been adopted to also refer to husbands and male partners. Men have quite often joked that women can be very restricting, often preventing their partners from engaging in activities as freely as they did before they found themselves in a relationship. They also joke that being married is similar to serving a life sentence in prison. It is hardly surprising, then, that they would be referred to as an instrument of punishment.

The phrase directly refers to the ball and chain which were worn by prisoners in both Britain and America in the late 18th and 19th centuries. They were heavy, movement restricting objects which prevented individuals contained in them from escaping. Often, they caused injury and were extremely cumbersome. The earliest citation in print which documents their use comes from the still popular British Newspaper The Times, which claimed in 1819 that the judges would “sentence the prisoner to receive 50 stripes on his bare back, and be confined with a ball and chain to hard labour for 12 calendar months”.


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3. Bee in your bonnet

Bee keepers have not always worn protective clothing which has been effective when dealing with their unusual choice of pets. Quite often, they’d find that a number would manage to infiltrate their clothing, particularly in the flap which would appear between the neck and the head. As a result, the keeper would become preoccupied with getting the insects out of his clothing as opposed to harvesting honey. Thus, the expression ‘to have a bee in one’s head’ was born. The first reference of this version of the expression being used in print form is recorded in Alexander Douglas’s Aeneis from 1513, where it is written that “Quhat Bren be thou in bed with heid full of beis”.

Eventually, the phrase became modernised as the fashions changed and men found themselves adopting the bonnet (a type of cap) as opposed to a formal hat as they went about their daily lives. The trend didn’t last too long in England, and they were obsolete by the time the modulated phrase was in use, but they were still incredibly popular in Scotland. Philip Doddrige refers to the expression being of Scottish origin in his Letters from 1790, writing “I suppose you have heard of Mr. Coward’s pranks. He has, as the Scotch call it, a Bee in his Bonnet.” I would assume the this Mr. Coward that is mentioned had a reputation as a prankster.


4. Blood, sweat and tears

This is a phrase which has been adapted from the title of a rather famous speech made by Winston Churchill in 1940, in which he warned the Brutish people of the significant hardships and losses they could expect to encounter throughout the course of the Second World War. His “I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears and sweat” speech was incredibly popular with the citizens of Britain, and brought the phrase into popular use. However, despite this, he was not the individual to coin the phrase despite claims to the contrary.

Its origins actually lie in the Bible, in Luke 22:44 from the first edition of The King James Bible. The verse reads “and being in agony, he prayed more earnestly: and his sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground”. A Welsh minister, known as Christmas Evans was extremely familiar with this verse, and in his Sermons on Various Subjects , translated from Welsh to English by J. Davis in 1837. He wrote that “Christ the High a Priest of our profession, when he laid down his life for us on Calvary, was bathed in his own blood, sweat and tears.” Although we can’t be sure that it was the translator or the minister who coined the phrase, it is definitely certain that Churchill was not the creator. Not unless he was in possession of a time machine.


Tyler Bramer

5. Bury the hatchet

This is an expression which, as many most likely do, associate with the Hollywood interpretation of the way in which the Red Indians used to speak to each other. Phrases such as ‘kemp sabe’ we’re never used by tribes people, and thus the Hollywood association of expressions such as these with the Indian people is one which I actually find to be quite an insulting slur on their heritage. I was surprised, then, to learn that ‘bury the hatchet’ is one which is Indian in origin.

When warring tribes were lucky enough to find themselves making peace with their enemies, it was common practice that the leaders of both tribes would bury their hatchets in the same hole to symbolically symbolise that their people would never find themselves in conflict against each other again. As history dictates, though, we know that these periods of peace did not always last. There are many references to this practice in literature, the New England Historical & Genealogical Register for the year 1870 chronicles Samuel Sewall’s account which describes such a practice : “Meeting with ye Sachem they came to an agreemt and buried two axes in ye Ground; which ceremony to them is more significant & binding than all Articles of Peace the Hatchet being a principal weapon with ym.” Although the excerpt is difficult to read, the process is pretty clear.

The expression in its current form didn’t come into being in print until 1747, where the American author Cadwallader Golden ESQ (isn’t that name amazing?!) used it in his historical text The History of the Five Indian Nations of Canada. In fact, it could well be the case that he is the individual with which it originated. It reads “The great Matter under Consideration with the Brethren is, how to strengthen themselves, and weaken their Enemy. My Opinion is, that the Brethren should send Messengers to the Utawawas, Twibtwies, and the farther Indians, and to send back likewise some of the Prisoners of these Nations, if you have any left to bury the Hatchet, and to make a Covenant-chain, that they may put away all the French that are among them.”


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So, here are the B’s for the day.

*Please note that all images used are taken from Pinterest unless otherwise specified. If any of these images are yours and you wish for them to be removed/credited to you, please get in touch so that I can give credit where credit is due*

Phrases we Use and Their Origins #1 – The A’s

Scrolling through my news feed on Facebook on a Sunday back in August, I came across a really interesting post via one of my friends (sorry, I can’t remember who) which concerned a selection of phrases and idioms we use and where they came from. As an English graduate with a huge love of everything that makes up the way we speak and write, I was excited. Although it had only covered 11 phrases which we use today, I couldn’t stop thinking about it, and was thus inspired to start doing research of my own. I found myself being drawn in to far too many interesting examples to write about in just one post, and so for this month I’m hopefully going to get round to writing about a select few each day. So that I don’t end up repeating myself, it’s going to be a lot easier for me to do this alphabetically than randomly. So, without further adieu, here is my selection for today:

1. “A Fate Worse than Death”
This is an expression which my parents have used many times throughout my childhood as a threat to prevent me from causing mischief. In fact, I think the parents of most of my friends probably used that threat as well! However (and this is probably where a majority of parents will feel quite ill at the though of ever aiming this phrase at their children), traditionally this was used as a euphemism to describe situations which would make life unliveable, most commonly made in reference to loss of virginity or rape. The Georgian and Victorian public reacted strongly to a woman who’d had a fall from sexual grace, and attested to the general public belief that a woman who had found herself in a state of dishonour would be better off dead. Quite often they would suffer quite dearly, being outcast from society and finding themselves being under serious threat of suffering serious abuse at the hands of the authorities as well as their peers.

Jane Porter’s novel The Scottish Chiefs: A Romance (vol. 3), which was first published in 1810, is the earliest written reference to this phrase being used in the chapter where Helen is scouring the guests at a banquet of the man she had fallen in love with. She is looking for “he who had delivered her from a fate worse than death”. It would appear that Jane Porter is a popular name when used to reference the phrase, as Edgar Rice wrote that “[the ape] threw her roughly across his broad, hairy shoulders, and leaped back into the trees, bearing Jane Porter away toward a fate a thousand times worse than death.” This line appeared in his 1914 published novel Tarzan of the Apes, which has now been thoroughly ruined for me now that I have been made aware of the history of the phrase.


2. Above Board

This is a term which I had always assumed had nautical origins, referring to the relationships between deck-hands and officers. However, I was entirely wrong. In fact, it is associated with gambling. Specifically, card games. When playing a game such as poker, if a punter kept his arms and hands above the table top (known as the board) it was widely accepted that he would not be engaging in any kind of trickery or foul play.

Although this term was apparently coined in 1594, I have not been able to find any concrete evidence of this. The earliest reference that I have been able to find in literature dates back to 1664, where H. More wrote “They would have dealt above-board, and like honest men” in A Modest Enquiry into the Mystery of Iniquity .


3. A Turn-up for the Books

The phrase ‘turn-up’ is one which has been in use since at least 1820 and was used to reference cards or numbers on dice which were ‘turned up’ by chance. As a result, it would become associated with an unexpected stroke of luck or a surprise. It was officially defined in 1859, in John Camden’s A Dictionary of Modern Slang, Can’t and Vulgar Words as “an unexpected slice of luck”. This is all very well and good, but how did a phrase which found its origins in cards become associated with books?

It is unclear quite how this happened, but the phrase ‘turn-up’ found itself becoming associated with horse racing. Since the 18th century, bets placed on horses at race meets required the punter’s name, stake, the name of the horse and the odds to be recorded in a notebook in order to try and eliminate foul play. This process was commonly referred to as ‘making a book’. Often, a bookmaker would find that the name of the horse who had the race would not appear among the list of horses wagered against, and so would be considered to have had a ‘turn-up’ by not having to pay out. The earliest use of this phrase being used in print form appears in the Leeds Intelligencer from August 1863, where it was a “rare turn-up for the book-makers, the majority of whom had never written Blackdown’s name in their books.”


Nottingham University

4. As Brown as a Berry

‘As brown as a berry’ is an expression which we often use to describe someone who has just come back from holiday, and is sporting a rather lovely, dark tan. It was often used to describe the colours of horses which, apparently, we’re considered to be of superior quality if they shared their colouring with that of a rotting berry. Due to the fact that very little was written down during the Middle Ages, it is unknown exactly when the phrase first came into being.

The first reference of this ever being used in print form, however, is from one of my favourite books, The Canterbury Tales, by Geoffrey Chaucer. It’s unclear when exactly this was written, as Chaucer dropped off the face of the earth and the original manuscript went missing. However, it is widely accepted that it was written between 1386 and 1400. The passage of ‘The Monk’s Tale’ that this comes from is absolutely fantastic:

“He was a lord full fat and in good point;
His eyen stepe and rolling in his head
That stemed as a fornice of a led;
His botes souple, his hors in gret estat,
Now certainly he was a sayre prelat.
He was not pale as a forpined gost;
A fat swan loved he best of any rost;
His palfrey was as broune as is a bery.”


5. At Loggerheads

William Shakespeare is one of the greatest contributors to the English a dictionary, each and every one of his plays containing line upon line consisting of previously unrecognisable words. One of these words, ‘loggerhead’, was used to describe an individual which is dim-witted and stupid, debuting it in his 1588 play Love’s Labours Lost. Berowne, in the play, is exasperated with Costard, and exclaims “Ah you whoreson logger-head, you were borne to doe me shame.”

It is believed that this expression, used to describe people stubbornly locked in a ridiculous argument, was inspired by the logger. This was a thick piece of wood which was attached to the legs of a horse in order to prevent it escaping. The first print use of this expression being used to describe an argument, however, doesn’t originate in any of Shakespeare’s plays (although he set the premise), but instead in 1680, in Francis Kirkman’s The English Rogue. He wrote that they “frequently quarrell’d about their Sicilian wenches, and indeed… they seem… to be worth the going to Logger-heads for.”


Image by Barbara Jones

So there you have it. Five commonly used expressions from the English language which, to me, have very unexpected origins.

*Unless otherwise specified, all images used are taken from Pinterest. If any of these images are yours and you want accreditation, please contact me so that I can give credit where credit is due.*

18 Pictures Which Can go a Long Way to Lightening Your Mood

Everyone has the odd day where they feel a bit down because life isn’t actually going to plan. For me, if all else fails, these pictures are guaranteed to make me forget about how crap my day has been. 

1. This Pug who uses the Internet to look up pictures of other pugs.


2. This tunnel of lavender


3. This cake which makes me wish it was my birthday every single day.


4. This cake that makes me want to stick my face in it and forget that I have ever heard of the word ‘diet’


5. THAT picture of a possum that ate too many pastries


6. This family of giraffes that make you want to cuddle EVERYONE


7. These two pigs who are clearly loving life


8. This treehouse with a pool


9. These shoes which I would take out a loan to own


10. This puppy who loves his teddy


11. These holiday huts that make me want to live on an island.


12. That bookcase that, if I had it, would absolutely make my life


13. This dog who thinks he’s the owner


14. These balloons which are so pretty I could die


15. The bathroom that’s so cosy you couldn’t possibly EVER be stressed.


16. This little girl who’s holding hands with a penguin, holding hands with a penguin.


17. The wine cellar of Kings


18. This wedding dress which makes me want to get married. NOW.


*All pictures are taken from Pinterest. If you recognise any and want removal/wish to be credited, please contact me.

Why Women Feel the Need to Tell White Lies


"I'll be there in five minutes" by Daily Dishonesty

We have all been brought up in a society which dictates that lying is bad and that the truth, no matter how awful, will always result in lesser punishment than dishonesty. After all, lies are very hard to keep track of. Before you know it, you’re stuck in the middle of a web of lies and deceit which has so many holes and inaccuracies in it that you’re on the verge of being found out. The punishment you face is now at least 646728 times more severe than it would have been had you just been honest to begin with.

Women, however, are notorious liars despite being the sex which is most offended when it comes to being lied to. So why do we do it? The answer is very simple. We’re emotional beings with hormones as unstable as dynamite. When we lie to our partners/parents/friends, it’s not because we actually enjoy it. We’d rather avoid a confrontation which could escalate into a heated argument or a breakup. So which lies are my most common, what do I really mean and why?

1. “I am not jealous at all.”
Men are going to stare at other women. That’s a fact. I don’t say this because some survey has been conducted which says 82% of men admitted to staring at other women whilst with their partner (18% clearly lied), I say this because I do it. There’s nothing wrong with appreciating a beautiful person, and it shouldn’t be an issue. People should be comfortable enough in themselves to say “you know what? She is attractive. Congratulations for noticing.” However, I’m chubby, and the fear of every chubby girl is that their partner doesn’t find them attractive enough and wants to trade them in. So whenever my partner catches me giving him a ‘look’ because I’ve caught him staring, the “don’t worry, I don’t mind. I’m not jealous at all” line avoids a massive conflict over something unimportant and trivial. After all, why should he have to pay for my insecurities?

2. “I’m fine.”

This is a statement that all men will hear about 382995 times within their lifetimes. Why? Because it’s easier than having to tell them that actually, when they chose to go for a drink with their pals when you had an evening off, it hurt a little bit. You might have had dinner planned or some grand gesture to show them how much they mean to you because actually, they’re bloody amazing. Or maybe, it’s easier to say I’m fine than get upset because they told you your arse looks huge in that dress you like, or that your diet isn’t working. You want them to know you’re upset, but not chew them to bits. It’s conflict avoidance because usually in that scenario, they’re right.

3. “It doesn’t matter”

“It doesn’t matter” is a hugely versatile statement when it comes to interpretation. Sometimes, ‘it’ actually doesn’t matter. Most of the time however, for me, it does. Usually, it follows me asking someone to do something, them staring blankly back, and then me deciding to just do it myself because I can’t be bothered to explain it again. Or, it follows the age old unintentional insult; something like “you’re filling your jeans out nicely.” Basically, I’ve just been called fat. Rather than explain to the individual who threw the insult at me that I’m upset, I’d rather just go with “it doesn’t matter.” That way, I avoid the blank stares and having to repeat “it doesn’t matter.” I also avoid the “you’re being too sensitive,” “you’re over emotional” or “you’re being such a girl” insults which usually follow. Congratulations, you’re aware of my gender. Perhaps you’ll now start noticing when I get a haircut.

4. “It doesn’t matter how much you earn”

If any girl says this, she is most definitely lying. I’m not a materialistic person at all, but how much my boyfriend earns does matter to me. It’s not initially important, but when the relationship starts to get serious it starts to become important. I’m definitely not saying to ask “how much money do you earn each month before and after tax” on a first date – or at all. I don’t need to know how much, but as a woman who’s considering potentially having babies later on in life I need to know the person I’m choosing to spend my life with is financially secure enough to be able to look after my future family. Someone who sponges off his mother – or worse, me – is definitely not someone I’d want to date. I’ve been asked this question a few times on dates, however, and felt the need to lie every time. I don’t want someone to think I’m a gold digger just because I want to have a secure future.

5. “I’m nearly ready. I’ll be five minutes.”

If I’ve felt the need to say “I’m almost ready,” chances are I’m stood in my underwear with no make up on, wearing a turban, and trying to figure out what to wear. Saying this buys me more time, whilst providing my friend/parent/partner with a definitive time scale which puts them at ease. Unfortunately, it ceases to work after the third or fourth time in one hour.

6. “I was only kidding”

I like to think of myself as a bit of a joker, although sometimes I tend to think the world laughs at me far more often than it laughs with me. However, because of this I can get away with saying “just kidding” after dropping a very serious bombshell, making a comment about someone’s behaviour or expressing dissatisfaction with someone/something. Sometimes I am just kidding, but most of the time I am deadly serious. I’m just trying to soften the blow and push the offender to rectify the situation before I get cross.

7. “I don’t know what you’re talking about”

This one is pretty self explanatory. I do know what you’re talking about, I just think it’s stupid and can’t be bothered listening to it any more.

From my own personal experiences, I think it’s pretty clear that in a nutshell, women feel the need to lie because it makes life easier. We don’t want to have confrontations, we don’t want to get dragged into emotional warfare and we don’t want to risk jeopardising our relationships with anyone.

If you like the image I’ve used, you can find it here

15 Signs That Work is Taking Over Your Life


"I am not a Workaholic" by Daily Dishonesty

Ahead of going to back to University in September to voluntarily test my stress levels with a postgrad degree, I’ve found myself spending the past 7 months working full time in a bar in Wandsworth. Initially I accepted the job there because I’d hated my city job, and knew I could continue to work there whilst studying in order to fund my education. However, this has now become more than just a bar job. It’s become my baby. There’s nothing I wouldn’t do for the place. That’s when it hit me; I’m a workaholic.

1. You take every single phone call you get from your workplace, regardless of whether you’re in the shower, or eating a romantic dinner with your partner. Why? Because you’re convinced that something awful will have happened to in your absence. Like your cleaner has managed to burn it down, or someone’s forgotten to turn the gas off when changing the Fosters.

2. You call your boss. A lot. Not always with an agenda. Sometimes, you just want to see how they’re surviving without you and whether or not you can do anything for them.

3. You find yourself playing middle man between the other staff and your boss, because they’re convinced he likes you more than them. To be fair, he probably does.

4. You make your boyfriend go out and play football on date night so that you can pick up an extra shift guilt free. You don’t even feel guilty when he says his legs hurt, because you got paper.

5. You end up staying an hour past your shift’s end time, because you have more things to do and you’re convinced that nobody else can do them like you can. In fact, you know they can’t.

6. The advertising blackboards are your babies, and if anyone smudges them or attempts to write on them you hulk out. In your head you’re an artist. They’re not.

7. Lunch becomes a thing of legend. You’ve heard people speak of it. Hell you’ve seen people eating it! But lunch? For you? Don’t be ridiculous. There’s no time. Anyway, who’s going to look after the bar if you take a break? The chef?

8. You find yourself talking about work. A lot. You’ve got nothing else to talk about, because you do nothing else with your life except spend time with your partner. And as flattering as it might be in the beginning, they’ll soon tire of hearing about themselves.

9. You complain that you could do better at X, Y and Z with other members of staff and your family, but as soon as a customer points out the same thing you immediately tell them to shut up because they are completely and utterly wrong. Your bar is perfect.

10. The number of hobbies you have equals zero. You have literally none. Besides, you don’t have time. What if work needs you?

11. You say you’ll be home in twenty minutes, but you find yourself getting so immersed in the job that before you know it you’ve drawn an accurate picture of the globe on your FIFA World Cup score board complete with shading, you’ve made 437828 posters and hung them everywhere, and you’ve spent time designing and laminating 636253 specials menus because the world will end if they’re left until tomorrow.

12. It doesn’t matter how busy the previous day may have been; if someone’s forgotten to take the filter out of the dishwasher and there are still glasses to wash, you’re going to rage. You mention it to the person the shift belonged to, gauge their reaction, then tell them you were joking. But you weren’t. You definitely were not joking. In fact, they made your hit list,

13. You cannot justify missing work. It doesn’t matter if you’re due a holiday, you’ve got a broken elbow or if you’re dying; you will be there. Unless you have the Nora Virus. But only for health and safety reasons.

14. The word ‘no’ is no longer a feature of your vocabulary. No matter how many times you try to use it, you still end up on your hands and knees designing blackboards for the next three weeks when in fact you should be at home, eating pasta and watching rubbish on TV.


Rushed 30 minute board, as I was informed of the performer last minute. Plus, dinner was calling.

15. You deny that you’re a workaholic because you aren’t. You really aren’t. You just like your job. A lot.

On the off chance that you like the image I’ve used, it’s available in print form from society6