Off the charts, trousers, (raise the) red flag, keepsake

Created date

September 27th, 2019
a red flag waves in the wind before a grey sky.

To “raise the red flag” is to signal danger or perhaps the fact that something went wrong. 

Off the charts

When we say that something is “off the charts,” we mean it has exceeded all expectations—it is better or bigger than anyone could have imagined.

As far as “the charts” go, the reference could be a number of things: graphs, measurements, perhaps seismograph printings. But the meaning remains the same.

Something that is “off the charts” is immeasurably good or bad. 

“This meal was off the charts!”

Trousers

Most of us have donned these duds a time or two. Naturally, “trousers” are our pants, but where does the word come from?

Thankfully, we know the answer.

“Trousers” comes from several different sources: the Scottish Gaelic “triubhas,” the Old English “trouse,” and by the early seventeenth century, the modified “trousers.” Indeed, some etymologists believe this is based on derivations of the word “drawers.”

“Get dressed! Here’s a pair of trousers.”

(Raise the) red flag

To “raise the red flag” is to signal danger or perhaps the fact that something went wrong. The term itself comes from various uses throughout time. 

The earliest use of the idiom dates back to 1602 when military forces used the action as a signal they were preparing for battle. The oldest reference to a red flag as a sign of danger goes back to the late eighteenth century, when it was employed as a flood warning.

Armed forces around the world use the red flag to signal live fire, while railroads use it to signal an immediate stop to the train. 

Regardless of its purpose, the red flag has been a sign of danger or warning for hundreds of years.

“With the recent mass shootings, red flag laws for firearms sales have become a hot topic in Washington.”

Keepsake

This one takes us back to 1790. The term refers to a memento and, more specifically, one gifted to an individual by a friend.

In other words, a “keepsake” is something that is kept for the sake of the person who gifted the item in the first place. By the 1830s, the word had permanently entered the common English parlance.

“Years ago, people would often cut locks of hair as keepsakes.”

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