The Origins of 15 Common Words & Phrases Anything

The Origins of 15 Common Words & Phrases

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Many of the words and phrases we use every day are things we take for granted in terms of what they mean now. But what did they originally mean? What is the origin of jibber jabber, origin of spill the beans, best man, or loophole? What are the origins of these everyday phrases and terms? Some of these might surprise you.

If you are looking for the origin of jibber jabber, or other common phrases, read up! You never know the next time someone may ask you where does the phrase jibber jabber come from. And when that happens, you, my friend, will be ready.
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  1. 1

    Best Man

    In feudal days, weddings were rife with the possibility that a rival lord would try to break up the ceremony and steal the bride for political reasons. To prepare for a possible battle, a groom would ask a friend with fighting skills to stand with him during his marriage and act as his Best Man, helping to defend his bride from possible kidnapping. Often, grooms would convince multiple friends and relatives to stand with him, and several peasant "maids" would be persuaded to stand with the bride, in the hope that if invaders came to disrupt the ceremony, they would be confused by the number of girls in party clothes, and possibly kidnap the wrong one.

  2. 2

    Stool Pigeon

    The origin of this phrase goes back to when pigeons were considered a good food source. Hunters would take a tame pigeon and tie it to a stool in order to attract its wild bretheren. Because the pigeon that was tied to the stool was used to trap others of its kind, the name "stool pigeon" became used to describe anyone who is used to sell his friends out.

  3. 3

    Spill The Beans

    In ancient Greece, some voting was done with beans. White and black beans were used to determine the nature of your vote. One would vote with the bean color for their choice and drop it in a jar to be counted by the officials later. one might expect... on a few occasions a clumsy voter would knock over the jar and reveal the beans and the outcome of the vote.

    This is how the phrase came to refer to someone who reveals the truth or hidden secrets.

  4. 4


    Today this word implies a way to get out of a contract. The origin goes all the way back to the Middle Ages and, believe it or not, a defensive architectural feature of castles. Up at the top of the fortifications, designers put in small, oval windows that were tapered to be wider inside and narrower from the outside (also called a "murder-hole"). This made the window difficult to hit from the outside by the enemies, but a good spot to fire arrows out of.

    This opening was called the loophole and later the term came to represent any opening that gave an advantage to one side in an argument or contract.

  5. 5

    Get The Sack

    Sacked! In today's parlance, it means to get fired. The origin, however, is from the 17th century. Artisans used to come to work with their own tools for the job (usually in a sack). When an employer wanted to fire someone, all he did was hand him his sack and tell him to take his tools and leave. It still has the same meaning, only now the sack has been replaced by a cardboard box to take home our little cactus and nameplate.

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