Interesting origins of words or phrases

Just found out that to “butter someone up” comes from India. Way back, deeply religious people would throw balls of butter at statues of their gods to seek favour and forgiveness.

Also find it really interesting that the phrase used now (mainly on Twitter) to “Stan” a famous person comes from the Eminem song. I always assumed it was short for something but no, it just comes from the 22 year old song.


‘Honeymoon’ comes from the old tradition of a bride’s father supplying the groom with a month’s worth of mead after the wedding. Always liked that fact but I’m not 100% sure it’s true.


It is now!


Oooh. Another interesting one is the phrase (and it’s not very okay to say now) “mad as a hatter” doesn’t come from Alice in Wonderland;

“In 17th century France, poisoning occurred among hat makers who used mercury for the hat felt. The “Mad Hatter Disease” was marked by shyness, irritability, and tremors that would make the person appear “mad.””


‘Turn a blind eye’ to something is a Nelson reference.

… Ricky?


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Absolutely loads of this sort of explanation are made up, including your one it looks like, unfortunately.


From earlier hony moone, originally denoting the period of time following a wedding, equivalent to honey +‎ moon. The original reference was to affection waning like the moon, but later the sense became “the first month, or moon after marriage”, which tends to be the sweetest.

Compare Middle Low German suckermânt (“honeymoon”, literally “sugar-month”), German Low German Hönnigweken (“honeymoon”, literally “honey-weeks”). The German Honigmond (literally “honey-moon”) is a calque of the English term.

I had a cursory look online and couldn’t find anything particularly reliable-looking about the origins of butter up, so I’m a bit suspicious of that one too


Could you please be on hand to fact-check all my posts from now on?

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A great philosopher of our times :smiley:

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that’s what he says you see.

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I’ll do my best

With apologies


This one of kermit’s however

True that it doesn’t come from Alice in Wonderland, as the character is a reference to the phrase, but also POSSIBLY TRUE


Please delete my account. How embarrassing.


The phrase head over heels started out as heels over head, but got swapped round at some point in the 1800s and now makes no bloody sense whatsoever.


I like the origin of the word ‘clue’

from the word ‘clew’ meaning a ball of yarn, specifically referencing the ball of yarn that Ariadne gave to Theseus that he used to navigate his path through the Minotaur’s labyrinth


That’s a great one!

Once they have found a safe route, miners and cavers will often leave brightly coloured nylon thread for other people to use as a guide later on. These are known as Ariadne’s Lines for the same reason.


“Son of a gun” used to be a pejorative statement, similar to being called a son of a bitch. But it’s now usually used encouragingly as a reference to someone who is very lucky.

This has led to weird origin stories for the phrase itself.

The origin is likely to be someone who was born out of wedlock by a visiting soldier. But that doesn’t work with the modern “lucky” meaning. At some point, a story went around that the phrase came about because a soldier was shot in in the testicles, the bullet travelled out and into the uterus of a nearby woman, and someone was conceived as a result - a truly lucky, one-in-a-billion likelihood. However there’s no evidence that this ever happened.


It hasn’t been proven, but one theory about the origin of “big cheese” is that it is related to the Urdu word “chiz”, which is the Urdu word meaning “the thing” or “the real thing.”


Goodbye = god be with you


the pale in beyond the pale refers to a staked fence around a settlement (like what you could be impaled on) like don’t go outside the fence, there’s mad shit happening out there

thought it meant something so bad that itd knock you sick and make you go pale in the face