There are two possible origins for the phrase red cent, the first simply referring to the reddish hue of the copper used to mint the coin. The second possible meaning comes from the derogatory reference to Native Americans as Red Men, thus referring to the long-ago minted Indianhead penny.

While no one knows exactly where this phrase comes from, most people seem to think that its origin goes back to ancient times when people associated mythological spirits with trees. To tap the tree was to alert tree spirits to your presence, for example. More specifically, Irish tradition has it that you knock on the tree as way of expressing thanks to mythical creatures like leprechauns.

In the 18th and 19th centuries, a booby trap was not the sinister device that it is today. Instead, it was intended as a harmless practical joke consisting, for example, of a bucket of water carefully positioned above a partially opened door. But by the turn of the century--namely around World War I--booby traps referred to setups meant to kill rather than humiliate.

This phrase finds its origins with the ancient Romans. They observed that July and August the hottest months of the year happened to correspond with the appearance of Sirius the Dog Star. The Romans believed that this Dog Star was somehow responsible for the oppressive heat. Thus, we have the dog days of summer.

The origin of this phrase is rather straight forward and comes from the musician s world. Originally, it refers to playing compositions without the benefit of sheet music. Instead, the musician would simply use his/her ear to feel out the composition and follow the musical progressions.

This phrase is of British origin and began during World War I in reference to a soldier leaping from the safety of his trench and charging the enemy without cover. Facing lines of machine guns capable of filling the air with lead, this was often a suicidal decision--hence the phrase s modern reference to foolish or extreme behavior.

In the days of authors like William Shakespeare, when the meaning of words carried more poetic connotations, the term breast referred to one s heart or emotions. Simply put, to make a clean breast of things was to open up to another person and make known your inner-most feelings, thus giving one a clean slate--no secrets.

Centuries ago, when just about every farmer kept some sort of livestock both for sale and for their own sustenance, they identified ownership of each animal through one of two methods: branding or ear clipping. It's in the latter term that this phrase finds its origin.

Particularly for military units of the 19th century, a regiment s flag (or colors) was a symbol of pride and a sacred object to those who fought under it. Losing the flag to your enemy was a sign of defeat, but if you came off the battlefield with your colors still flying, you more than likely scored a victory.

In field events like the high jump and pole vaulting, an athlete s objective is to clear an elevated, horizontal bar without touching it. The higher the officials raise the bar, the more challenging the event becomes. The popular usage of the phrase raise the bar borrows from this idea of meeting a greater challenge and possibly setting a new standard in the process.

When Milton Bradley introduced the board game Chutes and Ladders to Americans in 1943, it was an instant classic. Based on a game played in ancient India, the version that most of us know today uses a game board on which is printed a checkered pattern of squares numbered one through 99. Throughout this pattern runs a series of winding chutes and ladders.

When the Catholic Church considers a person for sainthood, the first order of business is determining whether there is sufficient evidence to support the bestowal of this high honor (i.e. establishing whether the candidate is responsible for a miraculous event, such as a terminally ill cancer patient suddenly free of the disease).