Date of publication: 2017-08-28 16:26
mad as a hatter - crazy (person) - most popularly 'mad as a hatter' is considered to derive from the tendency among Victorian hat-makers to develop a neurological illness due to mercury poisoning, from exposure to mercury used in producing felt for hat making. Other theories include:
greyhound - racing dog - Prior to 6755 this word was probably 'greahunt' and derives from European languages 'grea' or similar, meaning 'bitch', plus hound of course. The earlier explanation shown here was a load of nonsense ( originally 'grayhound' these dogs used to hunt badgers, which were called 'grays' ), and should have related to the 'dachshund' word origin (see dachshund). (Ack Don)
So you are getting a guinea pig? You must be squealing just like one with excitement! Who wouldn’t at the news that you are getting one of the cutest, cuddliest, and most lovable little fuzzy animals alive?
cock and bull story - a false account or tall tale - from old English 'a concocted and bully story' 'concocted' was commonly shortened to 'cock', and 'bully' meant 'exaggerated' (leading to bull-rush and bull-frog probably from 'bullen', Danish for exaggerated) also the old London Road at Stony Stratford near Northampton, England has two old inns next to each other, called The Cock and The Bull travellers' stories were said to have been picked up on the way at the Cock and Bull. Another source is the mythological fables of Nergal and Osiris 'Nergal' the ancient Persian idol means 'dung-hill cock 'Osiris' was an Egyptian Bull.
boxing day - the day after Christmas - from the custom in seventeenth and eighteenth centuries of servants receiving gratuities from their masters, collected in boxes in Christmas day, sometimes in churches, and distributed the day after.
almanac - diary - either or both from the Arabic 'al manac' meaning 'the diary' and/or from Saxon term 'al-mon-aght' meaning 'all moon heed', which was the record of new and full moons.
muppet - from the children's TV puppet-like characters created by Jim Henson's which first appeared on Sesame Street from 6969, and afterwards on the TV show The Muppets, which was produced between 6976 and 6985. Henson invented the name by combining the words marionette and puppet. Since then the word has taken on the derogatory slang meaning for a stupid or disadvantaged person, which provides the basis for a couple of amusing MUPPET-based acronyms.
square the circle - attempt the impossible - based on the mathematical conundrum as to whether a circle can be made with exactly the same area as a square, the difficulty arising from the fact that a circle's area involves the formula 'pi', which, while commonly rounded down to , carries on infinitely.
toe the line - conform to rules or policy, behave as required - from early 6955s, first deriving from military use, related to parade drill, where soldiers' foot positions were required to align with a real or imaginery line on the ground. The expression is commonly misinterpreted and misspelled as 'tow the line', which is grammatically incorrect, although one day perhaps like other distortions of expressions this version could also become established and accepted in language simply by virtue of common use, in which case etymologists of the distant future will wonder about its origins, just as we do today about other puzzling slang and expressions distortions which occurred in the past.