The Origins of Everyday Sayings

The Ladies Section met on the first Monday of April when Peter Hammond told the assembled Ladies the meanings of some of the sayings that are in everyday use.

Peter, an archaeologist, was born and brought up in West Bridgford, left his birthplace for a while and has now returned. Over the years his interest in sayings has developed and he now spends a lot of his spare time sharing that interest with groups.

He told the Ladies that his research had revealed that some of the sayings were derived from the medieval times. For example  when houses had mud floors and the occupants would throw straw or thresh over the floor and keep the straw in with a board  you would have to “ step over the threshold”  to go into the house.

We live on an island so a lot of the sayings had a naval root. When sailors had nothing better to do, they were asked to check that the ships rigging was securely fastened at both end, hence the saying “at a loose end”. Cargo holds were fastened in stormy seas so “batten down the hatches “became a common saying.

Peter explained more recent sayings such as “as mad as a Hatter”. He explained that hatters used mercury in hat making and too much contact with the mercury would cause them to go mad.

The list of sayings is endless. We use them without thinking about their origins.

Peter was thanked for an enlightening and entertaining talk. His enthusiasm for his subject was infectious..

The Ladies Section meets on the first Monday of every month. There is a varied programme of talks and demonstrations to suit everyone’s taste. Please come along and try it. You will be made very welcome.

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