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What is the origin of the idiom 'to hold thumbs'?
- My parents are British/South Africans and still use this today
with my siblings and me - and even with their American grandkids. I
always confuse my American friends when I use the expression.
My understanding is that it's a British version of America's "Cross your fingers," which basically means, "Hope that this happens."
I also assume that the origin comes from the physical act of taking your thumb and placing it in the palm of your hand with the tip of the thumb pointing out from between your middle finger and your index finger (as your fingers are wrapped down in a fist gesture). Since usually this is done in both hands while giving the gesture of "Holding thumbs," the plural is used since you're doing it with both thumbs.
- A German expression indicating that you are wishing someone
well or luck in something is to say you will "press your thumb" for
them. It is done with the thumb of one hand only, bending it inside
the index finger and pressing on the outer joint of the thumb with
the fingers curled around it.
This expression may also be used in the Netherlands, leading to the South African use of it as discussed above. The expression to "Cross your fingers" is common in the UK and parts of Europe and has been used there for centuries.
- Both the above contain correct elements: in South Africa, with Afrikaans and English being spoken alongside, one gets many Germanic expression taken into South African English. Thus, the Afrikaans expression "Duim vashou" has been directly translated and you find English-speaking South Africans using "Hold thumbs" instead of "Crossing fingers."
- "Holding thumbs" must not be confused with the physical act of taking your thumb and placing it in the palm of your hand with the tip of the thumb pointing out from between your middle finger and your index finger. It is known in many countries as the"fig sign" and means very different things in different cultures. It is a very rude gesture in South Africa, Indonesia, Japan, Russia, Serbia and many other countries, similar to raising your middle finger to someone. In some countries it is regarded as a good-luck gesture, but it's best to avoid it entirely unless you know its local usage.
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It came from bootleggers putting liquor into their high boots to sneak it to the American Indians.
to be under one's thumb, or to be totally controlled by that person was first recorded in 1586. A considerable number of gestures from past times involve the thumb. It was tho…ught that if the thumb was folded into the palm of the hand and the fingers closed around it, it was a protection against evil
The phrase, "rule of thumb" refers to a rule or guideline that is usually though not always correct, it lacks strict precision. Its origin is very simple; it is based on… the use of one's thumb as a measuring tool that, of course, can only give approximate measurements. Most Old English measurements originated from the bodily dimensions of the king such as the length of the "foot" for one foot, the inch (thumb tip to first knuckle), cubit (elbow-to-fingertip), and yard (nose-to-fingertip). There is a second origin given for this phrase. In early English law, and potentially brought over in colonial American, a man was allowed to discipline his wife by beating her provided he used a stick no greater than the diameter of his thumb Rule of thumb was a term, a miller would use when grinding flour. He would rub the flour between his thumb and forefinger, if it was too course he would lower the grinding stones to make the flour finer.
The Eleventh Hour - at the latest possible time Origin: This expression comes from the Bible. The 11th hour is the last hour before the ed of the world. In the Bi…ble, the 11th hour was the last hour of sunlight with the 12th hour bringing darkness.
To hold your horses means to relax and wait. For example if a mechanic is fxing your car and you ask "Is it done yet?" every minute, he might tell you to hold your horse…s.
"Hold your tongue" means don't just say what comes to mind - or think before you talk.
To hope for the best
If you're "all thumbs," you are clumsy or awkward - imagine trying to do anything with five thumbs instead of four fingers and one thumb! This idiom usually refers to fi…ne motor tasks. It means to be clumsy
I had to undertake some heavy research to answer this question - Snake in the Grass - means an unfaithful, untrustworthy, and deceitful person. Origin: For thousa…nds of years, people have feared and hated snakes. In 37BC, the great Roman poet, Virgil used this expression.
Mum's the Word: means - you must keep silent and do not tell anyone the secret Origin: Since 1350, "mum" has meant silent. The word itself sounds like a person tr…ying to talk with their lips shut tight. This expression became extremely popular in the 1700's.
The hardware store owner told the impatient customer "Hold your horses, I'm coming!" Though you might be anxious to know how you did on the test, you will have to hold your ho…rses until all of the papers are graded.
Chew Your Cud - to think deeply to oneself Origin: In the 1500's, a lot of people owned cows and sheep. These are animals that chew their cuds (food that is spit …up from the stomach to the mouth and chewed again). It is a long process.
It means someone who is physically awkward, especially with the hands. There is a proverb from 1546 - 'when he should get aught, each finger is a thumb'
Hit the Road - to begin a journey. to leave Origin: Unless you can fly, something must be in contact with the road when moving on it - the rubber on the tires, th…e soles of the shoes, the hooves of the horse. So, when you start out on a journey overland, you are hitting the road.
when someone got angry, the would raise their fists in anger and end up hitting the ceiling No one knows for certain when this idiom was first used, but it can either mean h…itting the roof with your fists, or being so angry that you jump up and your head hits the roof. The other phrase often heard is "go through the roof."
Gardeners who worked with earthenware pots found their thumbs stained green from algae growing on the outside of these pots, according to one theory. Another theory claims… that King Edward the First loved green peas, and had serfs shell them. Whichever serf had the greenest thumb won some sort of prize.