Dictionary of Idioms and Their Origins Paperback – Mar 1 2006
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"This sort of book has two purposes. The first is to be a work of reference ... The second is to entertain ... Linda and Roger Flavell are discerning in their choice of phrase and assiduous in uncovering their origins." -- Times Literary Supplement
About the Author
Linda and Roger Flavell (U.K.) have also published A Dictionary of Word Origins and Dictionary of Proverbs.
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* "The Midas Touch" means the ability to make money, to have continuous good fortune, it comes from the story of - Midas the legendary king of Phrygia, was granted a wish by Bacchus in return for a helping hand extended to one of his followers. Midas wished that everything he touched would turn to gold. The wish dissolved when he washed his hands to eat.
* "Pandora's Box" means a seemingly harmless situation fraught with hidden difficulties, it comes from - Zeus giving Pandora a beautiful box that she was told never to open. One day she turned the key and peeped inside. At that moment all the problems of wickedness were loosened upon mankind ever since.
* "Three Sheets To The Wind" means very drunk, it comes from - The more sails there are in the wind, the more unstable the ship, like a drunken sailor.
* "A thorn in my side" means a person or thing which causes persistent pain or annoyance and it comes from- The Bible book of Numbers 33:55, God commands them to drive out all the inhabitants and if they do not, those who remain will be "barbs in your eyes and thorns in your sides".
Some idioms have more than one theory of how they originated, and all theories are listed.
There is an index and bibliography.
It is fun to read the origin and usage example of each idiom; I memorize idiom better this way.
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