Ever wonder how expressions like “G-man” and “wound tight” came about? Below are a few phrases like this and their original meanings. The Tribune will have more for you next month.


Brouhaha

Ever wonder how expressions like “stick to your guns” and “all hell broke loose” came about? Below are a few phrases like this and their original meanings. The Tribune will have more for you next month.


Blurb

The term itself sounds like nonsense talk: blurb. Yet, we use it so much that we rarely pause to give it a second thought. 

Ever wonder how expressions like “fine fettle” and “chock-full” came about? Below are a few phrases like this and their original meanings. The Tribune will have more for you next month.


 

Stick to your guns

The phrase “stick to your guns” is an old one, dating back to the eighteenth-century British variant, “Stand to your guns.” 

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


John Hancock

Copacetic

For those familiar with it, the word “copacetic” is probably most closely associated with the 1950s Jazz and beatnik cultures. As it’s used in everyday language, “copacetic” refers to something being “in order”; in other words, everything is a-okay.

Hello/Hi

Of all the words in the English language, “hello” and “hi” are among the most inconspicuous simply because we use them so often. They are also among that small group of words that require no definition—no explanation. 

Toodle-oo (toodaloo)

The British and the French haven’t always had the best relationship. In fact, they’ve long shared a disdain for one another, which is probably why we have the phrase “toodle-oo.”

Uncouth

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. 

Musket

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”?

Off his/her rails

When we say that someone has gone “off his rails,” we mean that he’s lost control or, perhaps even, gone crazy. 

This idiom comes from railroading. 

Browbeat

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.

Explode

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.