A few days ago I posted a piece which gave the backgound to some of our everyday sayings. Many of the common statements we use have interesting origins which reach back many years. Today they are commonly used and make our language expressive and interesting. They rock our speech up a bit!
If you ever watched television programs on the "dirtiest" jobs you will know that in order to tan animal skins it was necessary to collect large amounts of human urine. In order to collect the urine families would all pee in a pot and then once a day the urine was taken and sold to the tannery . If that was the only money they had on which to survive they were called "piss poor." The people who could not even afford to buy a pot in which to collect urine were the lowest of the low and "did not have a pot to piss in."
The floors of the houses of the poor were often dirt. Only the wealthy had something other than dirt. So the phrase "dirt poor" indicated the status of the family. The wealthy, on the other hand , had slate floors that would get slippery in the winter when wet, so they would spread thresh (straw) on the floor to help keep their footing. As the winter wore on , more and more thresh was added until when the door was opened the thresh would start slipping out. A piece of wood was then placed across the entrance to prevent the loss of the thresh and became the "threshold."
When a family could obtain some bacon they felt quite special. When visitors came over they would hang the flitch of bacon. It was a sign of wealth that the man could "bring home the bacon." The family would cut off a little of the flitch and share it with their guests and then they would all sit around and "chew the fat."
Bread wa divided according to status. Workers were given the burnt bottom of the loaf, the family received the middle and the guests received the top , or "the upper crust."
You can probably think of many other day to day sayings we use and may wonder where they came from.