While some might find it difficult to keep up with the latest slang of the day, understanding phrases from the past can be the harder task. A lot of these confusing idioms are relics of history, so ingrained in everyday vernacular that we don’t even consider what a “rule of thumb” is or why we’re relating our happiness to a mollusk and a man named Larry.
Many English speakers use these sayings regularly without knowing where they come from or what they truly mean. Behind each saying’s etymology lies a mystery, some of which are still unsolved. Some have contentiously debated origins and countless plausible (and less plausible) theories. Either way, knowing the surprising backstories of these idioms will give you a leg up as a conversationalist, and basically makes you the bee’s knees.