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Everyday phrases with dark origins

There are some everyday sayings we say all the time, but never thought too much about its meaning. 

Here’s a few that might make you think twice before using them next time. Warning – some of these are a bit gruesome:

  • Meet a deadline: You hear this phrase as a student and as an employee, but hopefully you won’t “die” if you don’t meet these deadlines.
  •  Diehard: This word used to not mean a huge fan of something. Instead, it was attributed to those who struggled the longest when hanged.
  • Bite the bullet: this phrase means to do something difficult that you’ve been hesitant about. But, the history behind this phrase goes back to the battlefield when soldiers had to undergo emergency operations and literally bite a bullet without anesthesia to numb the pain.
  • God bless you: this is a phrase we usually hear when people sneeze. Nowadays, many of us just say “bless you,” but did you know this phrase used to express a desire for your soul to remain in your body when those died from the plague. 
  • Crocodile tears: a popular phrase used to describe false sorrow or fake emotional response. This phrase came about from the popular belief that crocodiles actually cried when they killed and ate their prey.
  • Mad as a hatter: this one is associated with Lewis Carroll’s book ‘Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.’ The character, Mad Matter, is quite dark since it referred to men who suffered from mental health problems caused by mercury exposure that was used to make felt hats more flexible.
  • Pulling my leg: a phrase used when someone is trying to fool someone. In the past, dragging a person by the leg was a common way robbers get their hands on one’s possessions.

Do you know of any common sayings with an interesting backstory?

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