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Funny Idioms With Unknown Origins

Always A Bridesmaid, But Never A Bride

There's a claim that "Always a bridesmaid, but never a bride" originated with an advertising campaign for mouthwash. But according to lore, being a bridesmaid too often is unlucky for the marital prospects of that bridal helper. Superstition has i...

Cat Got Your Tongue

The phrase evokes a strange image, and you wouldn’t be blamed for thinking its origin is equally bizarre. Some have suggested that ancient kings would punish those who displeased them by cutting out their tongues and feeding them to their pet cats...

When Pigs Fly

No one is certain exactly who developed the phrase “when pigs fly." An old reference to pigs flying appears in Lewis Carroll's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. However, scholars believe Carroll may have picked up the phrase from the Scottish, who...

With Egg On One’S Face

With egg on one’s face means means appearing ridiculous or foolish because of one’s actions. The phrase with egg on one’s face is an American idiom, though the origins are murky. One possible origin stems from the farmyard. Farm dogs sometimes dev...

Bob's Your Uncle

'Bob's your uncle' is one of those phrases that keep etymologists off the street corners. Despite its having been the subject of considerable research, no one is sure of its origin. As with all such mysteries, there are plenty of suggestions, but ...

In A Pickle

English idioms are funny things, pulled out of the wordy hodgepodge of history, and “in a pickle” is one of the more obscure of the bunch. The Oxford English Dictionary, the scholarly authority on all things English, says that the first written us...

The Pot Calling The Kettle Black

The term “the pot calling the kettle black” is usually used in the sense of accusing someone of hypocrisy. The origins of the phrase date back to at least the 1600s, when several writers published books or plays which included wordplays on this th...

Let The Cat Out Of The Bag

There are two commonly heard suggested origins of this phrase. One relates to the fraud of substituting a cat for a piglet at markets. If you let the cat out of the bag, you disclosed the trick - and avoided buying a pig in a poke (bag). This form...

Lions Led By Donkeys

The British politician Alan Clark alluded to this when he wrote a history of the war titled 'The Donkeys'. In that he attributed coinage of the phrase to the German soldier Max Hoffmann. The source hasn't been confirmed by others and, in any case,...

Hold Your Horses

“Hold your horses” is a very popular English idiomatic expression. It has nothing to do with horses, even though it’s related to its origin. It means “hold on” or wait, which is believed to have originated in the United States in the XIX century a...

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Learning - Language Skills | 5-18y

Funny Idioms With Unknown Origins

John PaulJohn Paul
Here are some funny idioms in the English language that has no clear origin history...