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【Review】2011/6/29 (Wed)
The origin of some English epressions and words

In George Washington's days, there were no cameras. One's image was either sculpted or painted. Some paintings of George Washington showed him standing behind a desk with one arm behind his back while others showed both legs and both arms. Prices charged by painters were not based on how many people were to be painted, but by how many limbs were to be painted. Arms and legs are "limbs", therefore painting them would cost the buyer more. Hence the expression, "Okay, but it'll cost you an arm and a leg."

In the late 1700s, many houses consisted of a large room with only one chair. Commonly, a long wide board folded down from the wall, and was used for dining. The "head of the household" always sat in the chair while everyone else ate sitting on the floor. Ocasionally a guest, who was usually a man, would be invited to sit in this chair during a meal. To sit in the chair meant you were important and in charge. They called the one sitting in the chair the "chair man". Today in business, we use the expression or title "Chairman" or "Chairman of the Board".

Personal hygiene left much room for improvement. As a result, many women and men had developed acne scars by adulthhood. The women would spread bee's wax over their facial skin to smooth out their complexions. When they were speaking to each other, if a woman began to stare at another woman's face she was told, "mind your own bee's wax". Should the woman smile, the wax would crack, hence the term "crack a smile". In addition, when they sat too close to the fire, the wax would melt... therefore, the expression "losing face".

Early politicians required feedback from the public to determine what the people considered important. Since there were no telephones, TVs or radios the politicians sent their assistants to local taverns, pubs and bars. They were told to "go sip some ale" and listen to people's conversations and political concerns. Many assistants were dispatched at diggerent times. "You go sip here." and "You go sip there." The two words "go sip" were eventually combined when referring to the local opinion and, thus we have the term "gossip".
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