The origins of sayings – why do we say that…?
Have your ever been so impressed that you’ve had socks knocked off? Did you pull your socks up and get on with it? And why has someone been blessing your cotton socks anyway?? When you use a phrase in every day chit-chat you don’t stop to question where it came from, do you? Well, seeing as we regularly talk about sock-related phrases, we thought it would be a fun idea to check out some of the most common sayings we use in everyday conversation and find out just where they originated from.
"Knock your socks off"
Similar to ‘blow your socks off’ or ‘knock you off your feet’, this saying can be traced back to the mid-1800s. An early example was found as far back as 1856 when a newspaper described a flu remedy as defeating the common cold virus by ‘knocking its socks off’. The phrase was used in a similar way in the 1940s in America when it referred to beating an opponent in a fight and quite literally knocking them off their feet. In more recent years, it became a positive phrase, meaning that you were impressed or delightfully surprised by something. We hope to continue to knock your socks off with our new designs, but that doesn’t mean we want to fight you!
"Bless your cotton socks"
In the middle of the 19th century a bishop established schools in Calcutta and ordered crates full of socks for the children to wear. The bishop’s surname was Cotton and he established a rule that all the socks were to be blessed before being handed out to the kids. The fact that the socks were worn by children is why the phrase is used today to mean innocence or that someone is being adorable and childlike. We always think ‘bless their cotton socks’ whenever we see a photo of a tiny foot in our baby-size socks because they just look so cute.
"Pull your socks up"
This phrase has origins in a fairy tale, can you believe it? In the 1893 version of Jack & Beanstalk, the author H. F. McLelland uses the saying ‘pull your socks up’ to mean ‘don’t be afraid’. In the early 20th century the phrase was used in the same way that ‘pull yourself together’ is used today.
A possible source of the saying could be that socks didn’t always have that elasticated band around the top - yes, our great-grandparents used to wear garters to keep their socks up! In days gone by, schoolboys in shorts could regularly be seen with socks drooping around their ankles and were told to smarten themselves by pulling their socks up. At least with our elastane content, there’s no chance of a ChattyFeet character being told to pull their socks up!
"Put a sock in it"
Sometimes we’d like to tell our characters to ‘put a sock in it’ when they’re being particularly chatty (especially La Diva – she’s loud!) but where does this phrase come from? It seems to originate from 1919 when the expression is documented to mean ‘leave off talking, singing or shouting’. It’s thought that the saying comes from literally putting a sock in the horn of a gramophone to quieten the sound, but soon conjured up the image of putting a sock in a loud person’s mouth to shut them up!
Can you think of more silly sayings about socks? Or ANY other funny phrases, for that matter? Do you know of a different origin for these sentences, or reasons why they are used in everyday conversation? Send your crazy quotes and ideas to us via Twitter @ChattyFeet and get involved in the conversation!