There are a few phrases in the English language, the meaning of which we’ve become so used to that we don’t think twice about them; we just use them. Every now and then I ponder about the history of such phrases. I actually own a really cool book called “How Did It Begin?: The Origin of Our Curious Customs and Superstitions” by DR R and L Brasch, which talks about the roots of certain sayings as well as that which is declared in the title. It’s a fun read, but at the end of the day there’s not one single right answer to any of those questions; there are a lot of variations, and people, myself included, basically tend to pick the one they like the most and adopt it as the truth, further sharing it with the world.

I feel like somewhere along the broken telephone line, something got mixed up because there are a few sayings out there that to me personally should mean something else entirely.

1. HAVING YOUR WORK CUT OUT FOR YOU – This is the oddest of phrases. If you have a lot of work to do and some of it has been cut out for you, shouldn’t that mean that you have less work to do therefore making your life easier? Apparently it means the exact opposite. It stems back to sewing or something where apparently one person would lay out all the work that had to be done by “cutting it out for you” so you’re left with the doing of all the actual work. So I guess it makes sense when you break it down. But then I’ll say the phrase again – You’ve got your work cut out for you – and it just seems like it should mean the other thing.

2. YOU’VE GOT BALLS – Somehow “having balls” puts you into the “brave” category these days. I mean if we’re traveling back to ancient history where men were on the battlefield, then yes I can understand how having the balls would qualify you as courageous. The phrase may or may not be referring to the testosterone factor which is directly derivative of manliness. We however live in a world men wear plaid shirts and worry about what gel to use to style their curvy mustaches. They too have balls and if you’re familiar with biology at all, the balls in question aren’t literally bursting at the seams with testosterone. Their balls are as relevant to bravery as their mustaches are relevant to their hunting skills. At this right we might as well start saying “You’ve got tits!” Why not? There are two of them and one hangs lower than the other.

3. GROW A PAIR – This goes hand in hand with having balls. Telling someone to grow a pair implies that they don’t have any balls, which again implies that said person is a wimp. Why is everything fixated on these balls? Not to get all feministic up in here or anything but I personally know women that are far braver than some men I know, and there are no testicles in sight. I’m gonna start telling people to grow a pair of tits. It’s bound to throw them off at first, but I think it’ll catch on eventually. Let’s say your friend is too scared to jump out of a plane. Let’s say your friend is a girl who happens to be flat chested. So you tell her to grow a pair of tits and push her off the plane. She’ll be all “What the…” and won’t even know that she’s in the air ‘til she’s half way down. Sure you could have just pushed her off without the pep talk, but what fun would that be?

Hey, the definition of “literally” changed to appease the public. I guess there’s no shame in pursuing the ultimate goal of changing the meaning of another phrase or two.

english phrases


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