Common Phrases That Are Completely Antiquated

It turns out that we still use quite a few outdated phrases, many of them commonplace. Ever found yourself saying, "Take it with a grain of salt" when warning someone to be discerning about information they've heard from a questionable source? How about accusing someone of "jumping on the bandwagon" when you find out they like something just because it's popular? Or telling someone to "get off their high horse," because you feel like they're being condescending?

Ever wonder where those phrases came from? All the common expressions on this list are literally antiquated expressions stemming from times long past: when a horse's mouth could tell you how much that horse was actually worth, or when soldiers had to literally bite down on a bullet in lieu of painkillers when being treated for an injury.

Read on to discover the true origins of your favorite outdated phrases still in use, and discover their earliest meanings. The oldest one here even dates back to 77 A.D.!

  • "Close, but no cigar"

    During carnivals in the 1800s, cigars were rewarded as prizes for winning carnival games. The updated saying would be, "Close, but no stuffed teddy bear."
  • "Burning the midnight oil"

    Working extra hard or late into the night - in a time before electricity, candlelight or lamp oil was used for lighting. When you stayed up late to work, you literally burned the lamp oil at midnight.
  • "Jumping on the bandwagon"

    In the mid-1800s, circuses would parade around town before setting up, with bandwagons leading the parade. They drew large crowds, and politicians started renting space on the bandwagons to get face time with an audience. Over time, politicians would make calls of action not to "jump on the opponent's bandwagon," and the phrase took on a negative connotation, meaning to mindlessly go along with whatever became flashy or popular.
  • "Roll up the window"

    When passengers or drivers in cars need to adjust a window, they commonly refer to it as "rolling" the window up or down. This comes from the days before power windows performed the act at the push of a button, back when someone had to physically move the window themselves by physically cranking or "rolling" a lever in their car door.