Top 10 Sayings and Terms with the Strangest, Weirdest or Creepiest Origins

Top ten list about common expressions, saying or terms with strange, weird or creepy origins.
The Top Ten
1 Dead Ringer

The origin of this term is from back in the day when they would place a mirror under the nostrils of someone they thought was dead. If the mirror "fogged up," it meant they were still alive. If there was nothing, off to the grave you go. Because of this practice, some people were buried while still alive.

To be sure they weren't burying a live person, they would place a bell tied to a string and have the bell hanging over a branch of a tree, with the string going into the person's coffin. If the person was not dead and woke up buried, they would pull the string to ring the bell to be dug back up.

2 Rule of Thumb

On one of my earlier lists with decent quality, I spelled this one out. It's time to reiterate. Nowadays it means a basic concept, but it used to mean the rod that you can beat your wife with can't be wider than your thumb. Spousal abuse origin. Weird.

3 Diehard

In its earliest incarnation in the 1700s, the expression described condemned men who struggled the longest when they were executed by hanging.

4 Humble Pie

Eating the entrails and other undesirable organs, usually from a deer, which was usually made into a pie.

Sounds delicious. Where can I try some?

5 Kick the Bucket

There are two origin stories of this term, both coming from the 1700s.

#1: From people who commit suicide by hanging. They would tie a noose around their neck while standing on a bucket. Then, when ready, they would "kick the bucket" from under them.

#2: The wooden frame used to hang animals by their feet for slaughter was called a bucket. As the animals struggled and spasmed, they were said to "kick the bucket."

6 Run Amok

This comes from the Malaysian word amoq, which describes the behavior of tribesmen who, under the influence of opium, became wild, rampaging mobs that attacked anybody in their path.

7 Cat Got Your Tongue

This saying refers to the practice of cutting out the tongues of liars and blasphemers and feeding them to cats.

8 Bite the Bullet

There was no time to administer anesthesia before emergency surgery during battle. The surgeon made patients bite down on a bullet in an attempt to distract them from the pain.

9 Hijack

During the old Wild West times, robbers would wait on paths for stagecoaches to come by. When one would roll up, the robbers would greet the driver with a friendly "Hi Jack!" before showing their true intentions and robbing them.

Interesting how recent this term is, considering it's affiliated with pirates.

10 Saved by the Bell

I've always associated Saved by the Bell with that 80's sitcom. After knowing the dark origin of this saying, it kind of puts it in a different light.

I always thought it referred to being saved by the school bell that ends class.

The Contenders
11 Break a Leg
12 Lousy with Them

The term originates from describing someone infested with crabs (crab louse).

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