We have all heard those sayings that seem cute, often pointed, and more and more appropriate. If you are like me, then sometimes you wonder just who made up those sayings in the first place and what were the circumstances around them. I have a few here that I thought would interest you.
Don't count your chickens before they are hatched. Don't count on profits before you earn them or have them in hand. Aesop once wrote about a woman carrying a basket of eggs. In her mind she figured how much she would get for the chickens when the eggs hatched and exactly how she would spend the money. She got so excited, she dropped her basket and every egg was smashed. Today we use this fable to warn people not to be too confident of getting a result, realizing an ambition, or making a profit before it actually happens.
Don't throw the baby out with the bath water. Don't throw away good, tried methods (which have worked for a long time) when you come up with doing something in a new way. In the 1500s, most people got married in June because they took their yearly bath in May and still smelled pretty good by June. However, they were starting to smell so brides carried a bouquet of flowers to hide the body odor. Baths consisted of a big tub filled with hot water. The man of the house had the privilege of the nice clean water, then all the other sons and men, then the women and finally the children - last of all the babies. By then the water was so dirty you could actually lose someone in it. Hence the saying, "Don't throw the baby out with the bath water."
I'm trying to get my ducks in a row. To have things in order. Baby ducklings swim in a straight line behind the mother duck. If the ducklings stray to far, the mother duck will get them back in line, that is get her ducks in a row. Contrary to popular belief this phrase has nothing to do with little yellow ducklings following their Mother duck all in a straight line. Landlubbers use the phrase to mean "get your business organized", but sailors know that this expression comes from the boatbuilding trade. Unbeknownst to a lot of people, a "duck" is a great big thing, bigger than your car that is so heavy that it has to be moved with a crane, and has jaws that open to make it a giant vise. The U.S. Navy (when building a new ship) lines up a number of ducks with a laser beam so that they are absolutely straight in a line; then the beginning piece of the new boat (the keel) is clamped in. The ducks hold the keel perfectly straight so the ship will be absolutely square athwart and fore-an-aft when it is being constructed. And so the first thing that is done in shipbuilding is to "get your ducks in a row".
Dressed to the nines. Common lore has it that a tailor making a high quality suit uses more fabric. The best suits are made from nine yards of fabric.
This may seem like a lot but a proper suit does indeed take nine yards of fabric. This is because a good suit has all the fabric cut in the same direction with the warp, or long strands of thread, parallel with the vertical line of the suit. This causes a great amount of waste in suit making, but if you want to go "dressed to the nines," you must pay for such waste. This saying originated in Shakespeare's time and is connected with the price a person had to pay for theater tickets depending on where their seats were located. The farthest seats were one pence and the ones closest to the stage were nine pence. If you sat in the expensive seats you would feel obliged to dress up so as not to look out of place with the other wealthy patrons.
Well, there are just a few of these old sayings and their origins. Now when you use them, you will know where they came from. Remember, everything has an origin. Find out where you began.