Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Origin of Phrases, 1

I really enjoy words and learning the history behind them (etymology). Consequently, I was delighted when I received an email with the origin of several phrases. Here are some.

1.      Hot off the press: As the paper goes through the rotary printing press friction causes it to heat up. Therefore, if you grab the paper right off the press, it's hot. The expression means to get immediate information.

2.      Curfew: The word comes from the French phrase ‘couvre-feu’ that means ‘cover the fire.’ It was used to describe the time of blowing out all lamps and candles. It was later adopted into Middle English as ‘curfeu’ that later became the modern ‘curfew.’ In the early American colonies homes had no real fireplaces so a fire was built in the center of the room. In order to make sure a fire did not get out of control during the night it was required that, by an agreed upon time, all fires would be covered with a clay pot called a curfew.

3.      Ironclad: This came about from the ironclad ships of the Civil War. It meant something so strong it could not be broken.

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