Have you ever wondered where some of the things you regularly say originated?
Interestingly, there are many words, phrases, and exclamations that have been around “forever,” but some actually originated hundreds of years ago!
One example is “Mayday,” the distress signal that calls for help when ships or planes are in trouble. The answer is it’s a French word, “m’aider,” which translates to English as, “help me.” Interestingly, the correct French pronunciation is, “mayday.”
The phrase, “the Good Lord willing and the creek don’t rise,” is one mostly found in the southern part of the U.S. It comes from the early pioneering settlers in Georgia, and was used referring to a desired future action or thing. Today, most people who’ve used or heard it don’t realize its origin.
Mistakenly, many think it means something will come to pass “with the will of God and without natural problems creating any precluding hazard(s).” The reference to a higher being is correct.
However, “the creek don’t rise,” doesn’t refer to a water tributary. Instead, it’s about the local Creek Indians. The original expression meant they expected something positive with “the will of God and without a Creek Indian uprising.”
Honey is the only food on earth that doesn’t spoil or rot. The ancient Babylonians believed it held many medicinal powers. One of particular importance was it greatly improved fertility.
As early as four thousand years ago, every bride’s father in Babylon gave his new son-in-law all the mead (beer made from honey) he could drink. It was accepted practice this would take place continuously for as long as one month after the wedding. This period of time became known as the “honey month.”
Today, plying the groom with beer is no longer practiced. However, the phase after the nuptials lives on under the new name, “honeymoon.”
The phrase, “passing the buck,” means shifting responsibility to someone else. Its origin is based on card game practices. Once it was customary to move a piece of buckshot from one player to the following, showing it was their turn to deal. If someone didn’t want the accountability, he “passed the buck” to the next player.
Learning about our own language’s phrases and idioms is fun. There are so many more interesting ones, more articles about this subject are necessary and are sure to come. Don’t be surprised if you see one soon.