Ever wonder how expressions like “uncouth” and “ninth circle of hell” came about? Below are a few phrases like this and their original meanings. The Tribune will have more for you next month.



Toodle-oo (toodaloo)


When we say that someone is “uncouth,” it means they are rude, lewd, and generally inappropriate. The word comes from the Old English root “cuth,” which meant familiar. 


The musket played a significant role in history. A smoothbore firearm, this gun saw action in conflicts from the beginning of the 1700s into the first decade of the nineteenth century. 

But why do we call it a “musket”?

Ever wonder how expressions like “olive branch” and “bugger” came about? Below are a few phrases like this and their original meanings. The Tribune will have more for you next month.

Off his/her rails


When someone “browbeats” another person, they’ve effectively bullied or coerced them by way of a sharply furrowed brow, harsh words, and a lot of finger pointing. The term originated in the sixteenth century as a figurative reference and remains one today.


When we hear the word “explode,” booming, fiery scenes come to mind. But explode actually originated with ancient Roman theater audiences. If a performer didn’t meet their expectations, they would hiss and shout the errant thespian off the stage. 

Through thick and thin

When you say that you’ve been with someone “through thick and thin,” it means that you’ve been with them through it all—the good times and the bad, for richer or poorer, in sickness and in health. 

In the groove

Here’s a little bit of jazz slang for you. When we say that someone is really “in the groove,” we mean that they’re doing well with something (other variants include “on a roll” and “batting a thousand”).


In the Middle Ages, houses typically were made of mud, clay, or some other earthen material. Their roofs were either thatched or shingled and equipped, not with gutters but eaves that extended a foot or so from the building. These eaves dripped rainwater from the roof, keeping the moisture away from the walls and foundation. 

Juke box

Most of them are antiques, even relics in an age of mp3 players; however, you still see some in venues bent on creating an air of nostalgia. At one time, the juke box was the centerpiece of entertainment in bars, soda shops, and pizza parlors across the country.

Lie through one’s teeth

When it’s obvious that a person is lying, we say he is “lying through his teeth.” While no one knows for sure where this phrase came from, there are a few theories that are worth noting. Here are the two most prominent ones: