A rolling stone gathers no moss*; WE ALL SAY THEM, BUT WHAT DO THEY REALLY MEAN? *A WASTREL OR VAGABOND CANNOT BE CAUGHT IF THEY ARE ALWAYS ON THE MOVE.
WE all know there's no point crying over spilt milk, every dog has its day and a cat may look at a king.
But why? These sayings seem to have been with us forever, but where do they come from? Now these mysteries of the English language - and the origins of many other traditional sayings, proverbs and superstitions - are revealed in new boo?One for Sorrow: A Book of Old-Fashioned Lore.
Don't worry that curiosity killed the cat, strike while the iron's hot and read on... Bless you..
HEAR someone sneeze, and it's an automatic reaction to say: "Bless you."
Originally it was believed a sneeze caused your soul to leave your body for a moment, when the Devil might snatch it.
Or in Ireland, it was the Little People.
Too One for sorrow.. THE magpie was long considered to be a bird of ill-omen because, so the story goes, it was the only bird not to comfort Jesus on the cross. And a Scottish tradition holds the bird has a drop of the Devil's blood under its tongue.
Might as well be hanged for a sheep as a lamb IN the 17th century the harsh penal system attached the death penalty (or deportation to Australia) to a list of crimes which today would be seen as minor. Theft of goods worth more than a shilling carried the ultimate penalty as did sheep rustling. The phrase points out that rather than being deterred, it simply encouraged hungry thieves to set their sights on the largest sheep they could find.
An apple a day.. The Welsh people held the apple in high regard well before its health benefits were properly understood.
In fact, an early Welsh poetry book, The Red Book of hergest, says it will 'combat all sorts of agues'.
Nowadays, doctors confirm that they are very rich in vitamin C, and contain antioxidants which help fight cancer and can reduce the risk of suffering a stroke.
Too many cooks spoil the broth ORIGINALLY this saying went "the more cooks, the worse the potage" - potage being a sort of thick stew-like soup made from scraps. It needed seasoning, but if too many cooks had a go it would taste horrible.
Every dog has his day ThIS may sound harmless, but its origins in Ancient Greece are very grisly. It was coined following the death of the playwright euripides, who was mauled by a pack of dogs set on him by a rival.
Cold hands, warm heart TAKeN from the French "froides main, chaudes amours", it's a playful way to check if someone is in love. Lack of blood i n the hands shows it is all is in the heart, the site of passion.
Still waters run deep FIRST seen in a biography of Alexander the Great in AD50, it's a reminder of the dangers of crossing rivers.
For the Macedonian leader and his armies, deep water was a threat.
Don't look a gift horse in the mouth A YOUNG horse is worth more than an old one and examining a horse's teeth is the best way to assess its age. But looking in the mouth of a nag given to you is rude as you're trying to put a value on a present.
First used 400AD by St Jerome.
Don't buy a pig in a poke IN the medieval marketplace a "poke" was a bag.
Unscrupu-lous traders would claim their bag held a fresh suckling pig, when in reality it was well past its best - or not even a pig at all.
?One for Sorrow: A Book of Old-Fashioned Lore by Chloe Rhodes (Michael O'Mara Books)