Interesting Idioms

The other day, Huff the Hubs was lamenting that he had to clean the bathroom. I told him to “just bite the bullet and do it.”

“Ugh, what does that even mean…?” he wailed, trying to think of ways to prolong his procrastination.

But I starting to wonder: What does that mean? 

There are so many phrases I use all the time that I honestly have NO idea what they mean or where they came from. So I decided to do some research!


“Bite the Bullet”


Meaning: accept something difficult or unpleasant

This saying actually comes from the Civil War days. When emergency surgery was needed for soldiers on the battlefield and there was no anesthesia, the surgeon would have his patient bite down on a bullet to distract him from the pain of surgery.


“More Than You Can Shake a Stick At”


Meaning: have more than you need

Shepherds used to guide their animals with a stick as they herded them. When there were too many animals for a shepherd to control, there was said to be “more animals than you can shake a stick at”.


Butter them Up” 


Meaning: to flatter someone

In ancient India, there was a custom practiced that involved throwing balls of clarified butter at statues of the gods to seek favor.


“Caught Red-Handed”


Meaning: caught doing something wrong

This saying actually came about because of a particular law. If someone killed an animal that didn’t belong to him (like a cow or chicken) the perpetrator had to be caught with the animal’s blood on his hands to be convicted.


“Go the Whole 9 Yards”


Meaning: try your hardest

During WWII, fighter pilots were given a 9-yard chain of ammunition. If a pilot were to use all of the ammunition, he gave it “the whole nine yards.”


Feel smarter? I know I do!

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