Thought I might share these with you. There taken from the above book i have called "Now You Know" a great book of answers to the origin of sayings and such like. Why does â€œjury-riggedâ€ mean a temporary repair with whatever is at hand? In the seventeenth century, when a shipâ€™s mast was damaged at sea, a â€œjury mastâ€ was rigged to hold the sail until the replacement could be found. Because this was a critical situation the repairs had to be done within a day, or in French un jour, which in this case is the origin of jury. Something jury-rigged is a temporary repair and has nothing to do with â€œjerry-built,â€ which means permanent bad work. Why would you give a â€œswashbucklerâ€ or a bully a â€œwide berthâ€? Swashbuckler, a word we use for a pirate, was created from the archaic words swash, meaning â€œto make noise by striking,â€ and buckler, meaning â€œshield.â€ A swaggering brute yelling and banging his sword on his shield was called a swashbuckler. These bullies were given a â€œwide berth,â€ which in nautical lingo means to anchor or berth a ship a safe distance away from another that might cause trouble. Why do we say that someone is â€œon the spotâ€ when theyâ€™re facing big trouble? To be â€œon the spotâ€ means youâ€™re in serious difficulty, and it comes from the pirates of the Caribbean. The â€œspotâ€ is the ace of spades, a card that pirates ceremoniously showed to a condemned person indicating that he was about to be executed as a traitor. To be put on the spot has become much less dire, and instead of being a signal that youâ€™re being put to death, it has evolved into meaning, â€œExplain yourself or youâ€™re out of here.â€ Why do we say that someone arrogant needs to be â€œtaken down a pegâ€? A shipâ€™s colours are raised or lowered to signal the shipâ€™s status. â€œAll flags flyingâ€ signals great pride, but flags could also indicate degrees between failure and conquest. These flags were once held in place by a system of pegs, so lowering them was done by taking down a peg. This was a shame to the ship and its crew and gave us the expression for humiliation: to be taken down a peg. Whatâ€™s the origin of the expression â€œson of a gunâ€? Early in the eighteenth century, wives and girlfriends (as well as the occasional prostitute) were allowed to go to sea with the sailors during long voyages. When one of them became pregnant and was about to give birth at sea, a canvas curtain was placed near the midship gun where the birth would take place. If the newbornâ€™s father was in doubt, and it often was, the birth was registered in the log as the â€œson of a gun.â€ How did â€œspick and spanâ€ come to mean very clean? Today, Spick and Span is a trade name for a well-known cleanser, but the expression began in the fourteenth century as the nautical term â€œspick and span new,â€ to describe a freshly built or refurbished ship. A spick was a spike, while span was a Viking reference to new wood, but also means any distance between two extremities (such as the bow and stern of a ship). The wooden ship was so clean that even the spikes looked new. Why does â€œchewing the fatâ€ mean gossip or casual conversation? During the twentieth century, â€œchewing the fatâ€ came to mean passing time with informal small talk. The phrase originated with the grumbling of nineteenth-century British sailors whose lean diet was often nothing more than the fat from barrels of salt pork. Their whining while chewing the tough meat would expand to include complaints about every other hardship at sea and became known as â€œchewing the fat.â€ Why do we say that someone who has overcome an obstacle with ease has passed with â€œflying coloursâ€? Since the eighteenth century, ships of the navy have used flags to communicate their status or well-being. The most prominent flag, of course, is that of the shipâ€™s country, but there are dozens of other banners, which are called â€œcolours.â€ The most elaborate use of this bunting is after a victory at sea, when a triumphant ship returns to its home port with a proud and full display of flying colours. Why do we describe something approximate as â€œby and largeâ€? In early sailing jargon, by was â€œby the wind,â€ and when a helmsman was ordered to fill the sails he was told to steer â€œfull and by.â€ This required great skill and was called steering small. A less experienced helmsman might have been told to steer large with the order â€œby and large,â€ which meant use the wind but donâ€™t fill the sails. This is how â€œby and largeâ€ came to mean not quite true, but close enough. If youâ€™re short of cash why might you ask for a loan to â€œtide you overâ€? If you ask for money to tide you over, you are using a nautical term to reassure the lender that repayment is inevitable. When a boat or ship wants to enter a river from the ocean at low tide, its way will be blocked by the accumulation of mud or sand that has been swept downstream and collected at the mouth of the river. When the predictable tide rises and the obstacle is â€œtided overâ€ the boat, like a borrower, can continue its progress. Why do we say that something lost has â€œgone by the boardâ€? During the time of wooden ships, sailors often referred to their sailing vessel as â€œthe Boards.â€ We still use their language when we board a ship or are on board as part of a crew. Outboard is outside the boat, while inboard is inside. When a sailing shipâ€™s mast was broken by enemy cannon or in a storm and couldnâ€™t be salvaged, the captain would order the ropes holding it to be cut, letting it drift away or â€œgo by the board.â€ Why is a severe labour dispute called a â€œstrikeâ€? Conditions on board commercial sailing ships were miserable. On long voyages, food and water went bad and hygienic conditions were lower than for animals in a stable. If they suspected that a ship was poorly prepared, it wasnâ€™t uncommon for the crew to strike the main sail, making it impossible to go to sea until conditions improved. This gave us the word strike to describe any extreme action by labour against management.