The Surprising Origins of Everyday Expressions

Monday, January 10, 2011

Why do we say we’re "flying by the seat of our pants?" Or that someone’s "got our goat?" Harry Oliver has researched hundreds of the quirky phrases we use in everyday life, and found out the history and stories behind each one. His new book is called “Flying by the Seat of Your Pants: Surprising Origins of Everyday Expressions.


Harry Oliver

Produced by:

Kristen Meinzer

Comments [3]

Randall Merriott from Texas

"Making a Killing" - a few years ago I read the memoirs of John R. Cook, an old time bison hunter in the American West, and was surprised to see this phrase used throughout the book to describe killing a large stand of buffalo all at one time. Other hunters in that period of the late 1800s also used the phrase that way. It appears that only later did the term begin to be used in connection with making a lot of money, but it is easy to see how the transition took place.

Jan. 10 2011 09:52 AM
Ed from Red Bank, NJ from Red Bank, NJ

After a meal my grandfather would sometimes lean back in his chair and put his hands on his stomach and say, "Genteel sufficiency, if I ate anymore I'd be hognoxious." I know that hognoxious is not a word, but I think that it should be.

Jan. 10 2011 09:43 AM
L. Soyars from South Carolina

What is the origin of the expression "to be at someone's beck and call"? Could it be related to "beckon"....gesturing to someone to come closer?

Jan. 10 2011 09:39 AM

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