04/20/2022 “Cliches”   Leave a comment

Who doesn’t use cliches? You probably use one or two every day and don’t even realize it. I once wrote a four-minute speech using nothing but dozens of cliches strung together. I loved the challenge but the thirty people I read it to weren’t the least bit impressed. I really dislike people who can’t take a joke. Anyway, one other thing I love to do is to trace back into history to discover who originally came up with the cliche. Here are a couple just for you.

“By the skin of one’s teeth.”

“By the skin of one’s teeth” specifically is a (slightly misquoted) biblical phrase that means to have suffered “a close shave”.

My bone cleaveth to my skin, and to my flesh, and I am escaped with the skin of my teeth. Job 19:20


“A chip on one shoulder.”

There is an ancient proverb, “Hew not too high less chips fall in thine eye.” By the late 16th century, this health and safety warning had become something of a challenge, a dare to a fearless woodcutter to look high up without regard to any falling chips of wood.


“The hair of the dog that bit you.”

The phrase likely originated in the 16th century. Back then, if one was bitten by a mad dog (which was likely to be suffering from rabies), It was accepted medical practice to dress the wound with a burnt hair of the dog, as an antidote. Amazingly, this cure was recommended for dog bites for about 200 years before its efficacy was finally brought into question.


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