Old Phrases

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I was thinking about old sayings people used and wondering where they originated.

FIT AS A FIDDLE:  Being in good health.  In sound condition.   Fiddles like most musical instruments require cleaning and maintenance to remain in good condition.  It was a common instrument when this phrase originated.  In 1616 William Haughton wrote – “This is excellent ynfayth (means – faith), as fit as a fiddle.”

FIGHT FIRE WITH FIRE:  To retaliate with a similar form of attack that has been used against you.  Originated with firefighters.  This was mentioned in the Rock County Recorder news in the 1870s, “Someone has suggested that it might be proper to fight fire with fire on the prairies, but it would hardly answer to attempt this in an oil refinery.”

FISH OUT OF WATER:  Someone being in a situation that they are unfamiliar or unsuited for.  In 1483 English poet Geoffrey Chaucer compared this to a seaman trying to look like he belonged on a horse.  Seaman were more at home on a boat than on a horse.

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FOOL’S GOLD:  Iron pyrite resembles Gold.  Thus it was given the nickname – Fool’s Gold. English seaman Martin Frobisher during the latter part of the 16th century made 3 trips to Canada.  On his 2nd trip he found pyrite and thought it was gold.  He carried tons of this pyrite to his home, in 3 ships, and he made a fine profit.  He returned and mined more until everyone finally realized it was not gold.  Frobisher and everyone were fooled.

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