“Why Do We Say That?” Origins of Common Expressions

“Why Do We Say That?” Origins of Common Expressions

We’ve all used common expressions without knowing their origins. Some are steeped in history, others in mere legend. If you ever wondered “Why do people say that?” this article is for you. Here are some origins for some common expressions.

“Butter Someone Up”

If you’ve ever heard or used the expression “butter someone up” to gain favor, the expression comes from the ancient Indian custom of throwing butter balls at the feet of the statues of their gods.  It was a small form of sacrifice so it has been said that you “butter someone up” to gain approval or favor.

Giving Someone the Cold Shoulder

In medieval England, the way to let a guest know it was time to leave was by giving them a cold piece of meat from the shoulder of lamb, beef or pork. Providing a guest the “cold shoulder” was thought to be a polite way to say “It’s time for you to go.”

Let Your Hair Down

Most aristocratic women of medieval times kept their hair elegantly piled upon their heads. The only time it was acceptable to “Let their hair down” was when they were home among family. The term became to be associated with relaxing and being yourself.

Roll Up the Window

One of the newer common expressions is telling someone in a car to “roll up” or “roll down” a window. This comes from the old way in which car windows were propelled up and down through a rolling motion from a mechanical handle. Today, windows are moved up and down at the push of a button, and rarely rolled up and down. The expression, however, continues.

Living “High on the Hog”

The best cuts of pork are believed to be those “high on the hog”, or on the top portions of a pig. Those who could afford these prime cuts were considered well off and could live “high on the hog”.

Crocodile Tears

This originates from the belief that crocodiles tear up even when eating their prey. Thus the phrase “crocodile tears” means an insincere form of sorrow.

It can take generations to grow away from old expressions. Their meaning may be obscured by new technology or other advances, but It still can be interesting to look back to discover why we say the things we do.


Do you have questions about your insurance? Find an insurance agent near you with our Agent Finder

Buzz Your
Insurance Agent

Search for a local agent with our agent finder map.

Agent Finder

Search All Blogs

Search
Generic filters
Exact matches only
Search in title
Search in content
Search in excerpt

Buzz Your
Insurance Agent

Search for a local agent with our agent finder map.

Agent Finder

Want to learn more about our blog writer?

Read more about KayLynn's background.

Click Here

Search All Blogs

Search
Generic filters
Exact matches only
Search in title
Search in content
Search in excerpt

Things Your Kids Don’t Want to Inherit From You

Downsizing is Tough, But an Important Step to Take…For Your Adult Children

Buying a Car? Look at the Big Picture

If You Are Just Buying a Car Based on Price, You may Be Overpaying

Protect Your Home with These 6 Items

It Doesn’t Take a Major Investment to Make Your Home More Secure

Little Known Facts of Our Favorite Games

Some of the Family Games We Play Have Interesting Origins

Some Common Mistakes of Small At-Home Businesses

Is Your Small Home-Based Business Guilty?

The Right Recipe For Your Life Insurance Program

What Are the Ingredients for Your Life Insurance Program?

Car Production Facts Which You May Not Know

Ford’s invention of the assembly line made cars affordable for millions of Americans. Read some interesting car production facts you may not have known.

When Pizza and Beer Isn’t Enough

Moving used to just take a pickup truck, some friends and pizza and beer. That may just not be enough anymore.

Saints, Forts and Presidents, Why Our Cities are Named What They Are.

Many US City Names Have their Origins in Common

The Business Plan Debate

Are Traditional Business Plans Still Viable?