3 Common Sayings & Their Surprising Origins

Break The Ice

This commonly used saying is a figure of speech for an old marine practice still used in parts of the world today. During shipping voyages in the 18 – 1600s, ships would sometimes get stuck in ice when approaching their destination (out of the ocean and into calmer waters), usually a different country. The foreign port would send out small vessels to help clear a path (or break the ice) for the ship, to show acknowledgement of their welcomeness. Today, ice breaking ships are still used, but are not the first point of contact between ships.

The Whole Nine Yards

During World War II, fighter jets were most commonly loaded with nine yards of ammo. If they used ‘the whole nine yards’, it meant they did their absolutely everything they could during combat.

Caught Red Handed

Perhaps one of the oldest expressions still in modern use, this expression originated from the Anglo-Saxon settlement of Britain sometime between the 5th and 11th century. During this period, Old English Law ordered that in order to be punished for stealing and butchering an animal, the thief had to be caught with the animal’s blood still on his hands, which would mean they would have a red hue to them.

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