1. Brownie points.
The phrase “brownie points” indeed did derive from The Brownies. So essentially, we should be capitalizing the “B” in brownie, but eh, let’s live a little.
2. Caught between a rock and a hard place.
In 1917 in the town of Bisbee, Arizona, a labor union of mineworkers approached management with a list of demands (including better pay and working conditions). They were refused and many were deported to New Mexico. Those that were left were forced to work at the mine (a.k.a. the rock) or be unemployed (a.k.a. a hard place).
3. Break a leg.
There are a lot of theories for this cliche, yet my favorite has nothing to do with that whole “don’t wish an actor/dancer good luck or it’s bad luck” theory. In the early 20’s the word “break” was often used interchangeably with the word “bend.” Thus, “break a leg” simply meant to put on a performance worthy of “bending a leg”, or taking a bow.
4. Close, but no cigar.
In the mid-20th century, fairgrounds often handed out cigars as prizes. Essentially, “close, but no cigar” means you almost won, but won’t be taking home the ultimate prize of the coveted cigar.
5. Spill the beans.
In ancient Greece, the voting system remained anonymous by placing white (for a positive vote) or black (for a negative vote) beans into a vessel. Because the votes had to be unanimous, if the beans were spilled, the jig was up and voting halted.
Don’t you feel way smarter now? Go forth and share your newfound knowledge!
All info courtesy of Phrases.org.