In the days of the Wild West, cowboys drew many a Colt revolver over suspicions of cheating at the poker table. As a way to help minimize these suspicions and the number of bullets flying through the room, it became common practice to switch dealers.

To begin with, this phrase has nothing to do with the silky, white fibers that come from plants. In fact, going back as far as the 1500s, the word cotton meant to take a liking to or to get on well with, even to get to know. It is from this early usage that we derive the meaning of the phrase cotton to or cotton up to. "At first, I didn't like my neighbor.

Unlike most of the phrases covered throughout Where d it come from, Shiver me timbers isn t a saying used in ordinary conversation all that often. Still, Long John Silver has uttered the exclamation through snarled teeth enough times to warrant a brief mention.

The term "amok" actually derives from the Malaysian word amoq, which refers to a frenzied attack. In time, the word was adapted to amok, and to run amok is to engage in furious battle, to behave in a frenzied manner without restraint or control. "After they stormed the fortress, the soldiers ran amok."

There are two possible origins for this phrase. The first one uses the term jig as a dance and basically means that the dance is over, and it s time to pay the piper. The second possible origin points to a change in the use of the term jig around the 1600s, when it referred more to a joke and a scheme than it did a dance.

At one time, the term woolgathering actually referred to an occupation. The job of a woolgatherer was quite simply to follow a herd of sheep as it moved around the countryside, picking up tufts of wool that had fallen out or snagged on bushes as the animals moved past. The job didn t require much concentration, and the woolgatherer, himself, wandered wherever the sheep decided to go.

Today, when we use the term scot-free, we usually refer to someone who has gotten away with something off the hook, if you will. They may have gotten off for a crime, or they avoided payment of some kind.

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.