Modern English speakers use the phrase “crocodile tears” to describe a display of superficial or false sorrow, but the saying actually derives from a medieval belief that crocodiles shed tears of sadness while they killed and consumed their prey.
In the midst of the fight, a wounded British officer named William Inglis supposedly urged his unit forward by bellowing “Stand your ground and die hard … ” Inglis’ 57th Regiment suffered 75 percent casualties during the battle, and went on to earn the nickname “the Die Hards.” The idea of resting on your laurels dates back to leaders and athletic stars of ancient Greece.
In Hellenic times, laurel leaves were closely tied to Apollo, the god of music, prophecy and poetry.
This summer, journalist Matthew Engel took to the BBC website to bemoan the corrupting influence of U. So it may shock you to learn that British words and expressions have, of late, been worming their way into the American lexicon as much as the other way around.
Readers were invited to weigh in with their picks for the worst of the worst, and within a day, that Brits have been whining about "Americanisms" at least since 1781, when John Witherspoon coined the term.
Although you might not know it, you probably quote history on a daily basis.
The English language is filled with idioms, sayings and bits of slang that are derived from historical events and legends.
You can still place a hold on the title, and your hold will be automatically filled as soon as the title is available again.
The most complete and authoritative idioms dictionary available, the Cambridge Dictionary of American Idioms gives you the tools to understand contemporary American English.
Among its many fabrications, the book includes a description of crocodiles that notes, “These serpents sley men, and eate them weeping, and they have no tongue.” While factually inaccurate, Mandeville’s account of weeping reptiles later found its way into the works of Shakespeare, and “crocodile tears” became an idiom as early as the 16th century.
While it typically refers to someone with a strong dedication to a particular set of beliefs, the term “diehard” originally had a series of much more literal meanings.
Apollo was usually depicted with a crown of laurel leaves, and the plant eventually became a symbol of status and achievement.