Jump to Main ContentJump to Primary Navigation
Top

Everyday sayings explained

Ever wondered why the "hair of the dog" is a hangover cure, why a bird in the hand is worth "two in the bush" and who decided "an apple a day keeps the doctor away"? Some sayings are now so commonplace, we'll utter them with no idea of where they came from. But every phrase, saying or proverb starts somewhere, and thanks to the Phrase Finder, we've uncovered the (often disputed) authors, meanings and stories behind some of the most commonplace sayings. The results are surprising, and prove it wasn't just Shakespeare changing our language...

Picture credits: Rex Features

Related

banned.jpg

50 books that were banned

vintage-books.jpg

The Brontë sisters' words of wisdom

wordsthatwere.jpg

Wonderful words of old

Comments

More

The most unusual words in the English dictionary

Do you know what a quincunx is? by Amy Lewis

25 Aug 2016

Guess which word is currently the most hated in the English language

It might be a winner on Great British Bake Off, but it's disliked across the world by Amy Swales

25 Aug 2016

Helen Fielding reveals the cover for the fourth Bridget Jones book

But the plot of Bridget Jones’s Baby: The Diaries is brewing a whole load of confusion too by Amy Lewis

25 Aug 2016

Netflix to adapt beloved children's book into TV series

Are you ready for this literary Netflix series? by Kayleigh Dray

23 Aug 2016

Take a literary road trip with seven novels set in England

Author Emma Claire Sweeney's pick of summer reads set right here in the UK

17 Aug 2016

Iconic crime writer Val McDermid schools a sexist on Twitter

The Scottish author had a perfect response to a men's rights activist – and J. K. Rowling piled in, too by Moya Crockett

17 Aug 2016

Takeaway tips from smart self-help books

Bite-size wisdom for speedy self-improvement by Scarlett Cayford

11 Aug 2016

Book lovers, rejoice: the best news ever for reading addicts

One more reason to feel smug about your reading habit by Moya Crockett

09 Aug 2016

Bridget Jones’s Baby: Helen Fielding reveals major news

Hold on to your control pants... by Amy Lewis

04 Aug 2016

2016’s highest paid authors have been revealed

From J.K Rowling to Paula Hawkins by Amy Lewis

04 Aug 2016