Where words and phrases come from is a fascinating subject, full of
folklore and historical lessons (continuing phrases beginning with E)
Eagle-eyed - very keen
Origin -Legend has it that the eagle has the sharpest eyesight of all
birds. The term eagle eye, is used to mean (keeping) a sharp watch on
Ear to the ground - aware of what is going on; alive to speculation,
rumour, etc. Origin -This phrase is originated from the American Indian
practice of putting one's ear to the ground in order to detect the
vibration of approaching hooves before they can actually be heard.
Eat humble pie- to apologize and face humiliation for a serious error
Origin -The expression derives from umble pie, which was a pie filled
with liver, heart and other offal, of cow, deer or boar.
Umble evolved from numble, (after the French nomble) meaning 'deer's
innards'. Umbles were considered inferior food; in medieval times the
pie was often served to lower-class people
Eat your heart out -
to worry or pine
Origin -The ancients in Greece believed that feeling of sorrow was
bad for the heart, and would eat away at it, each sigh draining blood
from the organ. By 18th century the idea had made its way to England.
Shakespeare refers to it, as 'Might liquid tears, of heart-offending
groans ...Look pale as primrose with blood-drinking sighs' (Henry VI).
Economical with the
truth - deceitful
Origin -The phrase derives from a famous statement made by Edmund
Burke, Anglo-Irish Statesman and philosopher (1729 - 1797) : "Falsehood
and delusion are allowed in no case whatever: but, as in the exercise of
all the virtues, there is an economy of truth. It is a sort of
temperance, by which a man speaks truth with measure that he may speak
it the longer."
Eleventh hour - Late;
shortly before an anticipated event.
Origin -Matthew's Bible parable of the labourers in the vineyard has
the men hired at the eleventh hour being paid as much as the ones hired
early in the morning, even though the eleventh-hour people only worked
for an hour. From this sense of being barely in time to receive some
benefit comes the concept of time running out."
Every jot and tittle -
every tiny detail
Origin -Jot is from the Latin iota, meaning the Greek letter i, the
smallest in the alphabet. A jot is therefore a little bit, as is an
iota. Tittle is a rare word meaning a small mark used in printing or
writing; in jot or tittle it means the dot on the letter i and therefore
merely reinforces the smallness implicit in jot.
Every man Jack -
everyone without exception
Origin - Jack is a familiar, affectionate or diminutive version of
John, perhaps the commonest British name, and occurs in numerous
expressions to mean an ordinary man, fellow, chap, etc. Thus jack of all
trades (person who does a variety of work), jack-in-the-box and cheap
jack (man who travels about offering bargains for sale, now usually
applied to person who sells goods which are cheap, shoddy or inferior),
steeplejack (a labouring man), jackass (fool) and Jack Tar (sailor)