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Potter's field, hell-bent for leather, rank, armageddon

Created date

May 10th, 2018

Potter’s field

A “potter’s field” is a cemetery for the poor and unknown. Especially common in urban areas, these burial grounds can be found in just about every major city.

But why do we call them potter’s fields?

It comes from the New Testament’s Matthew 27:3-8, in which the Jewish priests accept 30 pieces of silver from a repentant Judas:

…[T]he chief priests, having taken the pieces of silver, said: “It is not lawful to put them into the corbona, because it is the price of blood.” And after they had consulted together, they bought with them the potter’s field, to be a burying place for strangers...

Potters often owned fields heavy with clay soil, which they used as their medium. Because the ground wasn’t good for much else, such tracts were usually cheap and, therefore, ideal gravesites for the destitute.

“It’s a sad situation to be buried in a potter’s field.”

Hell-bent for leather

Someone who is “hell-bent for leather” is utterly determined, almost to the point of rampage. There is no convincing him of a different course of action.

The phrase dates to the mid-nineteenth century and refers to a person jumping on his horse and resolutely riding off to take care of business.

The leather, no doubt, alludes to the saddle. If one is “hell-bent for leather,” he is going to mount that horse and race to wherever he needs to be.

“When he found out it was going to snow, he took off hell-bent for leather to the grocery store.”


We all know the word “rank” refers to a status or level of power, particularly in the military. But the word also means smelly.

While etymologists are not completely certain, they believe the word—first used in this context around the mid-1500s—comes from rancid and rancorous, which respectively mean rotten or grating on the ears. In time, the “c” changed to a “k” to form a more solid consonant ending.

“A pile of rotten cabbage can get pretty rank.”


We frequently hear “Armageddon” mentioned in connection with total disaster, which is not exactly accurate. The term “Armageddon” is actually a biblical reference to the final battle between good and evil before Judgment Day.

It takes its name from a hill just south of Haifa, Israel, known as Megiddo, where this battle is to occur.

“According to the Bible, Armageddon will settle things once and for all.”