20. Caught Red-Handed
Meaning:To be caught doing something wrong
History:This saying originated because of a law. If someone butchered an animal that didn’t belong to him, he had to be caught with the animal’s blood on his hands to be convicted. Being caught with freshly cut meat did not make the person guilty.
15. Go the Whole 9 Yards
Meaning:To try one’s best
History:World War II Fighter pilots received a 9-yard chain of ammunition. Therefore, when a pilot used all of his ammunition on one target, he gave it “the whole 9 yards.”
10. No Spring Chicken
Meaning:Someone who is past his prime
History:New England chicken farmers generally sold chickens in the spring, so the chickens born in the springtime yielded better earnings than the chickens that survived the winter. Sometimes, farmers tried to sell old birds for the price of a new spring chicken. Clever buyers complained that the fowl was “no spring chicken,” and the term came to represent anyone past their prime.
5. Saved by the Bell
Meaning:Rescued from an unwanted situation
History:As scary as it sounds, being buried alive was once a common occurrence. People who feared succumbing to such a fate were buried in special coffins that connected to a bell above ground. At night, guards listened for any bells in case they had to dig up a living person and save them “by the bell.”