"Saved by the bell"
In England during the 17th-century, a guard at a castle was accused of falling asleep. He claimed he didn't fall asleep and could prove it; for, he had heard the church bell chime 13 times instead of 12 times at midnight. Other people in town heard the same thing, and he was not executed.
This idiom also means being rescued from a situation at the
last possible moment. The most common analogy is a fighter being saved from defeat by the bell at the end of a round of boxing.
"Bury the hatchet"
Native Americans used to bury weapons to show that fighting had ended and enemies were now at peace.
This idiom means to make up after an argument or fight.
"Climb on the bandwagon"
Some time ago, people would climb onto the platform of a traveling wagon that had musicians playing music. They did this to join in the support of a political stance. This idiom refers to someone caught up in the moment and joining the crowd in hopes of somehow benefitting from supporting someone else's idea.
"A close shave"
If a student barber shaved too close, their customers might be cut or even barely escape
This idiom is used when a person narrowly escapes danger.
"Have a chip on one's shoulder"
In America during the 19th-century, there is a story of a boy who thought he was tough
and would put a wood chip on his shoulder and dare anyone to knock it off.
This idiom refers to anyone who is eager to engage in an argument or takes offense
"Dot the i's and cross the t's"
In the past, before typewriters and computers, documents were handwritten. Therefore, it was very important to write with care, especially letters like
i and t, which could easily be confused.
This idiom means to pay close attention to every little detail.
"Pay the piper"
In medieval times, people were entertained by strolling musicians. To choose the music
resulted in paying the musicians.
This idiom means that to make a choice results in some price to pay.
"Raining cats and dogs"
In Norse mythology, the dog is associated with wind and the cat with storms.
This idiom means it's raining very hard.
"The pot calling the kettle black"
In the seventeenth century, both pots and kettles turned black with use.
This idiom means criticizing someone else when you yourself have the same fault.
"Shed crocodile tears"
Crocodiles have a reflex that causes their eyes to tear when they open their mouths. This
makes it look as though they are crying while devouring their prey.
This idiom means someone is weeping, but the tears are false.
"Clean bill of health"
In the past, when a ship left a port, it was given a Bill of Health if there were no epidemics
in the area from which it left.
This idiom means the doctor says you are perfectly healthy.
"Close but no cigar"
In the past, cigars were given as prizes in contests at fairs. When a contestant almost won,
the person running the contest would say, "Close but no cigar."
This means coming close but not winning the prize.
"Cut from the same cloth"
When making suits, tailors use fabric from the same piece of cloth to make sure the pieces match.
This idiom means that a person is very similar to another.
"Strike while the iron is hot"
Blacksmiths must shape iron into objects during the brief time it is red-hot.
This means to take advantage of a good opportunity while you can.
"The pen is mightier than the sword."
There were illegal pamphlets distributed to the public in 17th-century England which
expressed disagreement with the government.
The proverb means that the written expression of ideas cannot be stopped by force of law.
Also, what is written can influence the population more than the use of power in an
attempt to control it.