Origins of Some Everyday Things

This of you that have been following a while may remember this post. That’s because you will – in order to refresh some of my past work and make it fresh I’m reposting it and maybe a dding a bit or two. Starting here :

I’m surprised about how much of our modern life and what we say is based in on life many years old. Some of it over 100 years old. It’s logical that this is the case – but how much do you realise comes from long forgotten traditions or crafts? Here’s a few examples:

Long Summer Holidays:


Enjoying the long summer holiday kids? This long summer break was originally meant so the kids could help bring in the harvest. So come on… get out there and work!



Fed up with being labelled a bodger? The origin of this word denoted a skilled craftsman that made wooden legs and spars, it nothing to do with being sloppy.

Upper / Lower Case:


In this modern world of computing we can easily make letters in CAPITALS or not. In Victorian times when printing was carried out there would be two cases of letters used at the printers. The capitals would be in the upper case and the small letters would be in the lower case. Now where have I heard that term before?

The Whole Nine Yards:

9 yard ammuniation

The whole nine yards refers to the Spitfire pilots firing off all their ammunition at once. There was 9 yards of this ammunition and it would last for only 14 seconds. I’ve also heard this saying has come from the American bomber gunners and other similar sources. But you get the point.

I’m hoping a few people will read this and have some suggestions or other things they’re heard of which could form another post on this (if you can tolerate it) I think it’s interesting where many of our terms come from and they’re not as modern as we would like to think.

Simon 🙂


18 thoughts on “Origins of Some Everyday Things

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  1. I knew the Nine Yards, but the others were new. It’s always interesting to find out these origins.
    “Hoisted on your/ his own petard”- Being caught out by or having your own argument/scheme used against you (Hello there Mr Gove!)
    A petard was a 16/17th century bomb, to be attached to an obstruction hopefully removing the obstruction and allowing the attacker in.
    If the men doing the attaching actually survived the foe’s attempts to stop them, they lit a fuse. If the fuse was too short, or the bomb objected to the way it was being attached then the said bombers were soon to find out if their ideas about what an afterlife was were correct.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Indeed.
        A few years of reading military history will have you wondering….’How did they get men (and) women to do that?’.
        War has a grim logic all of its own. And once it starts that logic sucks everyone in.
        (I sometimes like to think of a world where military disputes are settled by pillow fights, who can pull the ugliest faces, and of course flatulence…..We can dream if we want to)

        Liked by 1 person

      2. This is the thing, this is where the power of rulers was in people’s honour. It worries you though, because in more recent times like Nazi Germany and today with other factions this mentality seems to remain – people buy into the philosophy.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. True Simon.
        In one current school of political thought; there are two terms; (the words are not used in the literal sense more as a way to describe the mindset)
        The ‘realist’- someone who believes that war in locked into human nature and that is the way it is.
        The neorealist’- who subscribes to the view that it is the concept of nations which leads to war.
        Both are considered negative and limited in their outlook by those who subscribe to the view that war can be removed by removing the social and economic causes of war.

        Liked by 1 person

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