Skip To Content

    20 Surprising Origins Of Popular Sayings

    The cat's out of the bag on these idioms.

    1. "Let the cat out of the bag."

    2. "Don't look a gift horse in the mouth."

    Horses' gums recede with age, leading to longer teeth. A common way to inspect a horse's "worth" is to check it's mouth, hence the phrase. Receiving a horse as a gift and immediately inspecting its value was considered offensive, much like inquiring about the worth of a present today is rude.

    3. "You're pulling my leg."

    4. "Eating crow."

    5. "Break a leg."

    6. "Can't hold a candle to..."

    7. "Dressed to the nines."

    8. "Don't count your chickens before they're hatched."

    9. "Crocodile tears."

    10. "Close, but no cigar."

    11. "Once in a blue moon."

    12. "Mind your p's and q's."

    13. "The kiss of death."

    14. "Rule of thumb."

    15. "Sleep tight!"

    16. "A square meal."

    17. "Stay on the straight and narrow."

    18. "Three sheets to the wind."

    19. "White Elephant."

    20. "Hocus Pocus!"