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Old sayings and their meanings

 

Most people got married in June because they took their yearly bath in May and still smelt pretty good in June. However, if it became extreme warm they were starting to smell, so brides “carried a bouquet of flowers” to hide the body odour.

 

Baths consisted of a large tub filled with hot water placed in front of a fire.  The man of the house had the privilege of the nice clean water, followed by the sons, the women, children and last of all the babies.  By then the water was so dirty you could actually lose a baby in it.  Hence the saying, "Don't throw the baby out with the bath water."

 

Houses had thatched roofs and it was the only place for animals to get warm, so the dogs, cats and other small animals lived in the roof.  When it rained it became slippery and sometimes the animals would slip and fall off the roof hence the saying "It's raining cats and dogs."

 

The wealthy had slab floors that would get slippery in the winter when wet, so they spread thresh (straw) on the floor to help keep their footing.  As the winter wore on, they kept adding more thresh, when you opened the door it would all start slipping outside.  A piece of wood was placed across the door entrance, hence, a "threshold."

 

They would hang up their bacon to show off when visitors came.  It was a sign of wealth that a man "could bring home the bacon."  They would cut off a little to share with guests and would all sit around and "chew the fat."

 

Bread was divided according to status.  Workers got the burnt bottom of the loaf, the family got the middle, and guests got the top, or "upper crust."

 

Mattresses were secured on bed frames by ropes.  When you pulled on the ropes the mattress tightened, making the bed firmer to sleep on.  Hence "Goodnight, sleep tight".

 

Years gone by in ale houses, the local brew was ordered in pints and quarts.  When customers got unruly, the Inn keeper would yell at them "Mind your pints and quarts, and settle down.”  It's where we get the phrase "mind your P's and Q's".

 

In the 1400's a law was set forth that a man was not allowed to beat his wife with a stick no thicker than his thumb. Hence we have "the rule of thumb”.

 

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Last updated : 16 January 2017