Ever wonder where phrases like “cool as a cucumber” and “piece of cake” came from? Well, wonder no more! Here’s a quick history lesson in language:
Let’s start with: Cool as a cucumber, meaning, cool, calm and collected. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the phrase has been used since the 1600's, and scientists have proven that, even on a hot day, the inside of a cucumber is about 20 degrees cooler than the air temperature outside.
So, where did this phrase come from: Wake up and smell the coffee, meaning, to face the facts. It started as an advertising slogan for Nescafé. But it was advice columnist, Ann Landers, who made the phrase part of our everyday speech, because she began to incorporate it into her no-nonsense advice.
Another tasty phrase: Spill the beans. The phrase came to mean “give away a secret” in ancient Greece. Because when local political leaders voted on an issue, they put a black bean in the voting urn for “No,” and a white one for “Yes.” And if the person collecting the votes dropped the jar, the results were revealed prematurely.
What about the term: Going bananas? It means to “go crazy.” And it makes sense, because it describes how excited apes and monkeys get when zookeepers feed them bananas.
And the final odd phrase we all know: Chew the fat, which means to pass the time with meaningless chit-chat. The phrase is said to have come from the habit of sailors, who survived long voyages when supplies ran low by gnawing on salt pork, and literally chewing the fat while they chatted.