is full of so many sayings that we use them without really thinking
about them. The words have meaning to us but, if you analyse the words
themselves, they often don't make sense. Why do we say that things go
"haywire" or that a situation is "touch and go"? Almost all of these
expressions have a basis in past custom or use - "haywire" to the US
and "touch and go" to ships and the sea. After I set up this site I
have had many compliments and queries. Click on the Responses link on
the left to view some.
Books are available on the subject, and an excellent Discussion Forum
exists at Gary Martin's site at Phrase Finder
World Wide Words
site explains the origin of words.
A comprehensive list of sites about the English language can be found
on Richard Lederer's
I have collected about 500 such sayings, and found the origin of most.
I produced an unpublished book about them. I called it 'The Bedtime
Browser', and this is the on-line version, with updates. I have
deliberately given a brief outline of what these expressions mean in
usage; this allows non-native English speakers to gain ideas about the
circumstances in which the phrases are used.
To access the page that you want, please click on the relevant section on the left