Sunday, 14 February 2010

Why Do We Say That?

Originally a pale was an area under the authority of a certain official. In the 14th and 15th centuries the English king ruled Dublin and the surrounding area known as the pale. Anyone 'beyond the pale' was seen as savage and dangerous.

When pulleys or blocks on sailing ships were pulled so tightly together that they could not be moved any closer together they were said to be chock-a-block.

This is a corruption of Magdalene. Mary Magdalene was a prostitute who became a follower of Jesus. In paintings she was often shown weeping tears of repentance. So she became associated with sentimentality.

In Celtic times people believed that benevolent spirits livid in trees. When in trouble people knocked on the tree and asked the spirits for help.

In the Middle Ages freelances were soldiers who fought for anyone who would hire them. They were literally free lances.