The origins of 8 common phrasesCare2common phrases
Though we might not wear togas, that doesn’t mean Ancient Rome has faded from our vocabulary and while the king or queen has long been without a head, the phrases their reigns spawned are still on our (thankfully still attached) tongues.
1. “Motley Crew.”
Meaning: A group of misbehaving ne’er-do-wells.
Background: Motley was once a type of fabric, and, eventually, the type of clothing made from the cloth. The most famous motley wearers in the 16th century were court jesters, and the multi-colored, patchwork fabric eventually became a go-to style for stage performers. Groups of these performers eventually became known as “motley crews.”
2. “Drawing a Blank.”
Meaning: Unable to recall something.
Background: The phrase “drawing a blank” refers to a lottery. In the 16th century, Queen Elizabeth I decided to raise money through a national lottery system. No scratch tickets or plastic balls with numbers on them were involved! Instead, there were two “lot pots” — one with tickets of players’ names, and the other with an equal number of tickets that had prizes written on them. Not all of them had a prize written on it, though, and the phrase “drawing a blank” was born.
Full story at Care2.
Language trivia.Posted by Kate Rinsema