One of the many cool things about being a writer is the luxury of playing around with words and phrases. Every once in awhile I'll look at a word or phrase and wonder where in the world it came from.
Did you ever wonder about the origin of the saying, Tied to her apron strings? You're in luck. I looked it up. According to the website, wordorigins.org, the term has been in use since the mid-17th century: "An apron string hold or apron string tenure referred to property of one’s wife, which was controlled by the husband during her life but which afterwards would revert to her original family."
The term bigwig originated back in the 1700s, when men wore powdered wigs. Those who had more money could afford bigger and more expensive wigs.
Did you know that grandfather clause has its origins in the late 19th century deep south? Residents had to pass a literacy test or pay a poll tax in order to vote, but if their grandfather had been eligible to vote, they were automatically eligible.
The phrase head over heels was originally heels over head, which makes a lot more sense since the head is usually over the heels to begin with. The real McCoy should actually be the real MacKay (after a brand of Scotch whiskey)?
One that really surprised me was rule of thumb. I'd heard that it came from an old law that stated a man could beat his wife with a stick as long as it was narrower than his thumb. Apparently this is a myth. That meaning for rule of thumb has only been around since the 1970s. It's really just a term of measurement, since many thumbs are about an inch wide.
So, how about you? Have any unique words or phrases to share?