10 BRITISH IDIOMS STRAIGHT FROM THE HORSE’S MOUTH

Best thing since sliced bread
(A brilliant new innovation, or invention)

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When the bread slicer was introduced in 1927, it was hailed the greatest step forward in the baking industry. Think about it, how many sad-looking sandwiches would’ve you made without it being sliced.

Bob’s your Uncle, Fanny’s your Aunt
(There you go, success)

It has been disputed that this stems from when Prime Minister Robert Cecil (Bob), appointed his nephew as Chief Secretary, evoking that it’s not what you know, it’s who. Originally used sarcastically, the term now expresses easy success.

Mad as a March hare
(To act completely crazy)

Coined by philosopher Erasmus in the 1400s, he describes the bonkers behaviour displayed by hares in their breeding month of March.

Don’t judge a book by its cover
(Do not prejudge something by its appearance)

This phrase has been used as far back as 1860, but the term was coined in 1946 when authors Rolfe and Fuller used it murder mystery Murder in the Glass Room using it to describe the situation which wasn’t what it seemed.

Cheap as chips
(A bargain, something inexpensive)

Remember the old geezer David Dickinson? BBC’s Bargain Hunt presenter introduced this phrase to the nation with his zest for low-priced furnishings.

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If you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours
(You do me a favour, I’ll do you one)

This stems from the English navy in the 1600s, for drunken behaviour the sailors would receive lashings. The crew made deals with each other to strike each other lightly, in return for the same treatment.

Set a cat amongst the pigeons
(To cause trouble)

This originates from when dovecotes were all the rage. If one found a cat inside the dove house, there would be utter pandemonium….same goes for the poor pigeons.

Speak of the devil
(To talk about someone and then they appear suddenly)

The first recorder version derives from Old English texts in the 1400s: “Talk of the devil, and he’s presently at your elbow”. This is a sinsiter belief that that it was superstitious to mention his name. Whereas today it’s used now to save yourself bitching about someone, or just to be a top dick.

Take it with a pinch of salt
(To accept something, but not trust it entirely)

This idiom is an oldie. The idea derives from 77A.D., where it was common knowledge that food and some forms of poison were more easily swallowed with a grain of salt. In reference to the phrase, it insinuates that the poison (the lies) should be swallowed with a pinch of salt to make it easier. Come on, we all have that one friend that’s full of bullshit.

To bite off more than one can chew
(To have been too greedy)

This came over from America with the discovery of tobacco in the 1800s. People would share their tobacco by offering their block to bite on (imagine saying that to someone today). However, people got greedy and chomped as much as they could, resulting in them not being able to chew it.

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