Lax From United States of America, joined Dec 2000, 2290 posts, RR: 3 Posted (14 years 5 months 3 weeks 2 days 17 hours ago) and read 4054 times:
Anybody know how certain phrases get started?
The one I had in mind is "Highway Robbery". What exactly is "highway robbery"? I mean what is its origin?
I was curious if anyone knew.
If you can think of other sayings like this [with seemingly meaningless scattershot words thrown together to form a phrase that we all use in our everyday lives] please let me see your list. And the origins of any such phrases, if you know. Maybe we can kill a few hours playing around with words in this "dog days" of summer post!!
Hey....How about that one...."Dog Days of Summer". Where did that one come from?
Matt D From United States of America, joined Nov 1999, 9502 posts, RR: 42
Reply 1, posted (14 years 5 months 3 weeks 2 days 17 hours ago) and read 4034 times:
Highway robbery probably originates to the Old Western days when (stagecoach) robbers were known as "highwaymen".
as for the "dog days", that one goes back many, many years. It is the time (of year) where Sirius (a.k.a. the Dog Star, also the brightest star in the night sky) rises in the low southeastern skies just before sunrise during the hottest part of the year.
Cfalk From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 4, posted (14 years 5 months 3 weeks 2 days 7 hours ago) and read 4009 times:
The term goes a lot further back than that, although you have the right idea.
Since the invention of roads between cities and towns (called highways, even if they were not much more than dirt roads), thieves (called highwaymen) staked themselves out along the road to rob lone travellers. Travelling between towns at the time (we are talking from 2000 years ago until the industrial revolution) was dangerous, and you were virtually guaranteed to be robbed if you travelled alone. The solution was to travel in large groups. Did you ever read Chaucer? The pilgrims travelled together for safety, not necessarily for the company.
JetService From United States of America, joined Feb 2000, 4798 posts, RR: 10
Reply 5, posted (14 years 5 months 3 weeks 2 days 7 hours ago) and read 4005 times:
I know the expression 'red herring' which refers to a side-issue to distract people from the main issue, supposedly came from fox hunting. An actual herring was dragged on a rope to distract the dogs from the foxes' scent-trails. Apparently, the red herring had a stronger odor and was the fish of choice.