An idiomatic expression is a group of words which when taken together
gives a different, figurative meaning than that of the individual words which make it up.
Using idiomatic expressions in our sentences tends to make them sound nicer.
But have you ever wondered how such phrases came into being?
Here are some expressions, their meaning and how they came into existence.
1. To get one’s goat.
Meaning: To bother or annoy someone
Origin: This idiom is speculated to come from horse racing.
Jockeys placed goats in the stables with their horses since it was believed to relax the horses. However competitors would remove the goats of their rivals to scare their opponent’s horses hoping it would cause them to eventually lose the race.
2. Armed to the teeth
Meaning: fully prepared or equipped (with weapons, arguments and so on)
Origin: The phrase originated in the 14th century and referred to
knights who were dressed head to foot in armour. Later on the idiom was thought
to have generated in Port Jamaica in the 1600’s which was related to the pirates of the time.
They were believed to have a maximum number of weapons with which they would
fight and defeat their enemies. They also kept a small knife in their teeth to enable them fight.
3. To turn a blind eye
Meaning: To deliberately overlook something
Origin: It was used in the battle of Copenhagen by Admiral Horatio Nelson in 1801.
He had been blinded in his right eye during the war with France When signalled by his commanding officer that he should withdraw, he raised the telescope to his blind eye which would not enable him see the flags signalling the order. It is rumoured he said, “I have only one eye, I have the right to be blind sometimes.”
4. Don’t look a gift horse in the mouth
Meaning: do not try to evaluate a gift
Origin: It is believed to have originated in the 1900s.
Buyers could determine a horse’s age by examining its teeth before
purchasing it. Horses were also given as gifts as at then.
If a person tried to check the teeth of the horse which was received as a gift, it meant that instead of being grateful the person was trying to find the value of the present. Hence showing ingratitude which was considered as bad etiquette.
By Paula Manye Herzuahf