Today I would like to write about the origin of some common English idioms and
where they come from. Add them to your English conversations as different and
interesting ways to express yourself.
1) Turn a blind eye.
Meaning : To deliberately ignore or overlook something.
Example : "I'll turn a blind eye this once, but next time, there will be
Origins : The origins of this idiom are disputed, however, the most commonly
agreed upon theory is that it comes from an incident involving Admiral Horatio
Nelson. During a battle at sea in 1801, he was ordered by another ship to retreat.
Not agreeing with the order himself and thinking that he could win the battle if
he continued, he decided to ignore the signal of a flag waving on another ship.
To signal to his crew that he was knowingly ignoring the signal, he lifted a
telescope to his eye, in which he was blind.
"I have a right to be blind sometimes. I really do not see the signal" He said.
2) Feeling under the weather.
Meaning: To feel ill.
Example: I wont make it to the party today, I'm feeling a little under the weather.
The origin of this idiom is believed to have come from precautions that sailors used to
take if they were feeling ill. If they felt sick, the sailor would go to
the front part of the boat, beneath the bow. Literally, in this position they would
be out of the way of crew and "under the weather" would likely be less affected by the
rocking motions of the ship.
3) Spill the beans.
Meaning: To reveal a secret
Example: The police have been trying to get him to spill the beans for a while.
Again, we cannot be sure of the precise origins of this idiom, however, the overall
view is that it is derived from Ancient Greece. The voting process they used was
a method in which people would vote by placing beans into a vase. This meant that should
someone knock it over before the votes had been counted they would literally
"spill the beans" and reveal the secret information.
I hope now if you come across one of these idioms, you will have a better idea of its meaning!