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Where did that come from? Volume #4

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How many times have you learned something new and thought, “Wow! How interesting! I didn’t know that!” Wasn’t it fun to add fascinating bits of knowledge to your memory bank? There are many examples of these tidbits to complement your repertoire.

Sweetheart” is a term of endearment for someone who causes your heart to pound. It originated when doctors knew very little about the human circulatory system. These medical professionals drew analogies between the physical organ and the patient’s personality. That fostered terms like “soft-hearted” and “cold-hearted.”

Likewise, the term “sweetheart” came from a word describing a fast beating heart, “swete hert.” When we’re in love our hearts beat faster, thereby establishing the word “sweetheart” for one who elevates your heart rhythm.

Breaking the ice” means initiating something new. It comes from the days when rivers froze over prohibiting people on opposite sides from doing trade or commerce outside their side’s boundaries. It caused huge business losses. Once small, sturdy ships (specifically made for the purpose of breaking the ice) were introduced, larger ships could navigate through the obstacles and carry on business. The problem-solving vessels were called “icebreakers.”

Although hotly contested, yet much more entertaining, there are three popular phrases used today that come from one central origin. Years ago, personal hygiene was grossly undeveloped. Consequently, many women (and men) had severe pock marks (from small pox) and acne scars by the time they reached adulthood.

In an effort to smooth out their complexions, it was a common practice for ladies to spread bee’s wax over their faces. When speaking to each other, if one woman stared at the other’s face, she was told, “mind your own bee's wax.” Even with modern-day hygienic improvements, that phrase is still used. Many people think it’s a slang expression derived from the word “business.”

If a woman smiled, the bee’s wax would crack. That’s how we got the expression, “crack a smile.” Additionally, if the woman sat too close to the fire, the wax melted. That is how “losing face” became part of everyday speech.

In today’s culture, you need to know something about almost everything to stay relevant and current. In a world of instant gratification, knowing about words and phrases origins is a wonderful way for seniors to achieve that goal. Those who can help keep methods of communication interesting and lively are the ones who are the happiest.

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