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6 Surprising Origins For Popular Sayings

Do you use more idioms than you can “shake a stick at”? Well, here are the explanations behind a few of those everyday phrases.

1. “Go the whole nine yards.”

This saying is from 1920s America, when visitors were given nine yards of taffy, and if they could eat the entire thing in one sitting, the whole town would come out and cheer for them.

2. “Haste makes waste.”

This everyday expression comes from the old German folk tale “Der Müllhersteller,” or the “The Garbage-Maker.” It told the story of Martin Haste, a German peasant who mysteriously produced eight times more garbage than all his neighbors.

3. “Never look a gift horse in the mouth.”

In 1585, King Philip II of Spain received a horse as a gift from King Henry III of France. When Philip II looked into the horse’s mouth to inspect its teeth, the gift horse whispered, “Fuck you” right in his ear. While the horse was hanged for his crime, it is still considered common practice to stay away from the mouths of horses you receive as gifts.

4. “The customer is always right.”

Matthew 5:43-48

5. “Curiosity killed the cat.”

Cats are commonly known as curious creatures, but that’s not actually where this phrase comes from. Some phrases are without origin. Some stories are without authors. Some beginnings are without endings. Such is the mystery of life.

6. “That’s all she wrote.”

This phrase comes from the iconic last line of Leo Tolstoy’s War And Peace.