Month: December 2019

bum’s rush

When you get the “bum’s rush,” you’re hustled out the way a bum would be hurried out of a bar or restaurant for begging from the customers. A bum is a down-and-outer trying to cadge money or drinks. Today, we would probably call him a “street person.” The way it’s done is to grab the bum/hobo/tramp/homeless person by the back…

an eye for an eye

This phrase describes the law of retaliation (lex talionis) in that the person who causes another person to suffer should suffer in an equal amount. It originated in the Code of Hammurabi, King of Babylon, 1792-1750 BCE. The code survives today in the Akkadian language, and the phrase was used in the King James Bible: “…it hath been said, An…

salt of the earth

This phrase is used to describe people considered to be of great worth and reliability. It originates from the King James Bible, in Matthew 5:13, where Jesus said to his disciples, “Ye are the salt of the earth,” meaning, so it is said, that they were more valuable than gold. These words are still used to praise the finest common…

busman’s holiday

If you’re taking a “busman’s holiday,” you’re spending your free time doing the same thing you do during work. For example, a carpenter who spends a weekend repairing a friend’s house is taking a busman’s holiday. “Busman” refers to the driver of early buses, which were powered by horses. The phrase is originally British, dating from the end of the…