We all know most of them, but how many of us know their origins? Delight your clients with this list! This is a great activity to reminisce about what our grandparents used to say to us.
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We all know most of them, but how many of us know their origins? Delight your clients with this list!

This is a great activity to reminisce about what our grandparents used to say to us. Ask the group if they know anymore and make a list. Designate two high functioning clients to investigate their origins in dictionaries or on the computer for the next session.


1 - An apple a day keeps the doctor away

The earliest known version of this saying dates back to the 1860s: "Eat an apple on going to bed, and you'll keep the doctor from earning his bread". The current version appeared in 1913.


2 - Absence makes the heart grow fonder

This sweet saying originated from a line written by the Roman poet Sextus Propertius: "Always toward absent lovers, love's tide stronger flows". In 1832 the 'Pocket magazine of Classic & Polite Literature posted a version of this line coined by a 'Miss Strickland.'


3 - A Baker's dozen

From medieval times, when English bakers gave an extra loaf away when selling a dozen, just in case. Short weighing bread in those days could have baker, fined, flogged or placed on a pillory (a wooden framework with holes for the head and hands, where the offender was tied and exposed to public abuse).


4 - Flogging a dead horse

Dating from the 17 century. A 'dead-horse' was a term for work where a person had been paid for in advance (and already spent).


5 - In the limelight

Limelight is an intense white light widely used in the early movie theatres to illuminate the stage. Actors who were the centre of attention were said to be 'in the limelight'.


6 - Keeping up with the Joneses

This is an American term that emerged in 1913, as a comic strip in the New York Globe by Arthur (Pop) Momand. The sentence refers to neighbours/friends comparing and competing with each other as a benchmark for social class.


7 - Mad as a hatter

This expression is linked to the hat-making industry and mercury poisoning. In the olden days, mercury (quicksilver) was used to cure felt from which hats were made. Prolonged exposure to it affected the nervous systems and resulted in hatters really going mad.


8 - Turn a blind eye

Referring to a willful refusal to acknowledge a particular reality. During the Battle of Copenhagen in 1801, British naval hero Horatio Nelson found his ships pitted against a mighty Danish-Norwegian fleet. His superior commander flagged him to withdraw, but the one-eyed Nelson placed the telescope on his blind eye and declared; "I did not see the signal!". Going ahead he scored a decisive victory!


9 - Raining cats and dogs

This saying originated in seventeenth-century England. During heavy storms, many homeless animals would drown and float down the streets, giving the appearance that is had actually rained cats and dog.


10 - White elephant

Refers to any burdensome, useless, possession. When the King of Siam (Thailand) was angered, he would give the offender a white elephant as a present to care for. White elephants were sacred and caring for one often led to financial ruin.


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