Some common phrases with their meanings and origins
"There’s more than one way to skin a cat."
Okay so this one sounds really messed up if you don’t know the origin. This phrase just means there’s more than one way to do something, and it comes from skinning catfish. Catfish are notoriously hard to scale, and everybody has a different way of doing it, all of which are arguably equally effective in getting the job done. So there’s that phrase.
"You’re going to have to bite the bullet."
It means that you’re going to have to accept something crappy that’s coming your way.This comes from war, and the very common necessity for emergency surgery during war. When there was no anesthetic on hand for pulling shrapnel out of a wound or something, the person performing the procedure would have to just put something in the soldier’s mouth to stop them from biting their tongue off. And yeah, a belt or something could be used and would probably be better, but biting a bullet while having someone dig around inside you looks way more tough.
Painting the town red.”
Meaning to go out and have a wild night of fun, and probably debauchery. The phrase is most likely from this crazy drunken night the Marquis of Waterford had in 1837. This guy and some friends went all across an English town, knocking over flowerpots, breaking windows, and finally the mob literally painted a tollgate, the doors of several homes and a swan statue with red paint. I mean, they literally painted the town red, because who knows why.
Another theory is that the phrase came out of the brothels of the American West, and referred to guys going around acting like their whole town were a red-light district. But I’m sticking with a member of the English aristocracy going around painting crap.
"A pipe dream"
So this phrase is less cool than going nuts on an English village with a bucket of red paint. It means that a wish is entirely unattainable, and it most likely stems from opium addictions, and the wild hallucinations people would get after smoking opium from a pipe.
"The Dog Days of Summer"
Contrary to how it may feel, the Dog Days aren’t just called that because it’s stupid freaking hot out during those weeks and it makes us pant like dogs; it actually comes from Roman astronomers. During the days between July 3rd and August 11th, they noticed that Sirius, or “the dog star” was still chilling in the sky (though not literally because that thing runs at about 9,940˚K), so they thought that because Sirius was in the sky too that’s what made those days of the year so hot.