Charles Darwin penned a book about the origin of species. Sometimes it's more fun to write about the origin of sayings. Here's a look at the humble, and often humorous, history of famous quotes and phrases to share with your family and friends:
Greedy as a pig
Seven hundred-pound hogs are hefty, with big appetites. In fact, a few weeks ago, hogs ate a 70-year-old farmer in Oregon.
The popular phrase for accidentally exposing body parts normally covered by clothing dates back to the 2004 Super Bowl, when Justin Timberlake pulled off part of Janet Jackson's bustier. Her spokesman called it "a malfunction of the wardrobe."
No one knows for sure where the fabulously fun term for nonsense came from – but Joe Biden brought the word back into prominence in his debate against Paul Ryan.
As old as the hills
The saying goes back to the Bible and Job 15:7. "Are you the first man that was born? Or were you made before the hills?"
The bee's knees.
The Oxford Dictionary, no less, says the bee's knees meant something small and insignificant back in the 18th century. But in the 1920s the phrase joined other slang (including the cat's whiskers) for "an outstanding person or thing."
Some people put this phrase in the "origin unknown" category. Others point to a 1765 Cinderella-esque story, "Goody Two-Shoes," about an orphan who survives with just one shoe until a rich man gives her another.
Gone to pot
Consensus is hard to come by on this term for an item that has seen better days. Urban Dictionary gives two explanations. The first: When food was scarce, people left behind the bones and fat, which went into the pot for the next day's soup. The second: Defective parts went to a smelting pot to be melted and recast.
The term for a deadly weakness dates back to Greek mythology. Magical river water washed over all but Achilles' heel, leaving him vulnerable when a poisonous arrow hit him there.
The Pooh-Bah was a self-important, high-and-mighty character in Gilbert and Sullivan's 1885 "The Mikado." Grand pooh-bahs also appeared in "The Flintstones" and in "Happy Days."
Could it be from an 1867 book that referred to General Winfield Scott, a Civil War general, in complimentary terms? ("Great Scott! the fellows said.") Or could it be after a euphemism for "great God"?
The home stretch
Like so many famous phrases ("odds are," "I'd wager"), this one comes from horseracing. The home stretch is the straight area after the last turn.
"Above board" may have come from gambling – from keeping cards in plain sight, above the "board" or playing table. It may also date back to the practice of keeping legal goods on ships above the deck whereas smuggled cargo got stashed below.
For more famous sayings, read: