To be at loggerheads……

  People at “loggerheads” are considered to be confronting each other. In the 15th and 16th centuries a ‘logger’ was the name given to a heavy wooden block fastened to the legs of grazing horses, enabling them to move slowly around a field but not to jump fences or stray too …

Eavesdroppers…….

  Eavesdroppers are people who deliberately try to overhear another’s conversation without detection. Centuries ago houses in England had no gutters and drain pipes. Instead the roofs extended far past the walls of the house enabling rainwater to drip to the ground away from the building. The area between the dripping …

To thread your way….

  For example, to thread your way through a crowd. This a lovely old phrase dating back to the mid 16th century. Back then the good and the great would entertain themselves for hours in a new , rather modern puzzle called mazes. However, many people soon realised it was just …

The history of Vaseline in 817 words………..

  In its early days, Vaseline had a wide range of uses and abuses. The translucent jelly was gobbed onto fishermen’s hooks to lure trout. Stage actresses dabbed the glistening ointment down their cheeks to simulate tears. Because Vaseline resists freezing, Arctic explorer Robert Peary took the jelly with him …

What exactly is the ring finger?…..

  It appears that the early Hebrews placed the wedding ring on the index finger and in India, nuptial rings were worn on the thumb. The Western custom of placing a wedding ring on the “third” finger (not counting the thumb) began with the Greeks, through carelessness in cataloguing human …

Keep your fingers crossed……

  If you cross your fingers when making a wish, or if you tell a friend, “Keep your fingers crossed,” you’re partaking of an ancient custom that required the participation of two people, intersecting index fingers. The popular gesture grew out of the pagan belief that a cross was a …

Onion breath….

  The problem with onions, almost all agree, is that they smell. Onion breath has been bedeviling the socially sensitive since the first hunter-gatherer ate the first wild onion bulb. Once you’ve eaten an onion, everybody knows it, which is why Don Quixote cautioned Sancho Panza to “Eat not garlic …

The peculiar history of Ketchup…..

  It appears that the ubiquitous bottle of ketchup is not quite so modern as we thought. The word ketchup comes from the Chinese dialect Hokkien, Ke-tsiap, the name of a sauce derived from fermented fish. Now popularly known as “ketchup” or “catsup”. The sauce was appealing to the traders …

Why do we call a turkey, a turkey?….

  It seems that we can blame the Portuguese for this. Following Vasco da Gama`s voyage around Africa, by the 16th century they were without doubt one of the leading traders along the Americas. Anxious to preserve their monopoly on certain goods the Portuguese were somewhat vague as to where …

How decolletage morphed into cleavage….

  Let us look at cleavage first. The word itself is a worry – it can mean rending things into separate parts, and also exactly the opposite when referring to things which cling together. In terms of low-cut necklines it somehow covers both possibilities: garments cut to show objects that are actually separate but …