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Where'd that phrase come from? #45

Created date

June 14th, 2012


FLAK this acronym struck fear into the hearts of countless airmen during World War II and, ironically, its origin was in the enemy s language . . . German. FLAK actually stands for: FLugzeug (aircraft); Abwehr (defense); Kannonen (canon) Flugzeugabwehrkannonen. Used as a defense against aircraft, these artillery shells were designed to explode at high altitudes, peppering allied fighters and bombers with heavy blasts of shrapnel. Today, we use the word as a substitute for guff or abuse. I took a lot of FLAK for buying that stock. Within days, the price plummeted. Needless to say, we lost a good deal of money.

Bucket list

Simply put, a bucket list is a list of things that a person wants to do before he or she kicks the bucket (or dies). The phrase originates from the early ' 21st century, popularized by a 2007 film of the same title starring Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman.

I have a lot of things on my bucket list, but the number one item is a day of skydiving.

Sow your wild oats

This phrase dates back to 16th-century Europe and most likely refers to a form of weed or wild precursor to cultivated oats. Sowing such a seed easily translated to our modern conception of sowing your wild oats because it was a useless task that came to little good hence our usage of the phrase in connection with young men wasting their time and venting their wild sides before settling down. Before I left for college, my father made it clear that he wasn t paying $40,000 a year for me to sow my wild oats.

Down a peg

During the 18thcentury, when the British Navy was at its most powerful, a ship s importance was indicated by the height at which it flew its flag. These flags were raised (or lowered) using a system of pegs. When a ship flying its flag at the highest level was suddenly taken down a peg, it was knocked back a rank. Today, we use the saying to describe our typical response to arrogance. When we put a cocky person in his place, we take him down a peg. The intern was acting like a bit of a know-it-all, so I had to knock him down a peg.