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. 

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”).

Eavesdrop

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:

Third rail

When we talk about something being a “third rail,” we mean it’s controversial, touchy, or more to the point, shocking. For instance, a topic that is a “third rail of politics” is a sensitive matter—one likely to spark debate and perhaps even partisan rancor. 

Speakeasy

During the prohibition era, the U.S. government tried to deprive taxpayers of alcohol. Despite a valiant effort, the dry movement was a bad, even absurd, idea and a failure. The fact was that most Americans liked their booze too much to give it up, regardless of the law.