1. Decked Out
This commonly used phrase stems from Dutch — the form of the Dutch language spoken from around 1200-1500. The word decked means “to cover,” which makes sense because if someone is “decked out” they’re covered in fancy clothes, jewelry, etc. It can also describe objects, like your house, which might be decked out with flashing Christmas lights.
这个常用的短语起源于荷兰语 — 这种形式大概在1200—1500形成。Decked意为‘穿，覆盖’。如果用“decked out”来描述某人，就说明他们佩戴珠宝，盛装出席，光彩照人。Deck也可以描述物体，例如，房子在圣诞节时张灯结彩。
Don’t worry, we’re not talking about you. But you can thank the Greeks for this word, which we all throw around a little too loosely. As you probably know, ancient Greece was big on the whole democracy thing, so people who didn’t participate in the political process or in their community were viewed in a negative light. The Greek word idiot was used to describe those people, who were considered ignorant and overly preoccupied with themselves.
Blame the ancient Greeks again. This regularly used insult comes from the Greek word móros, meaning “foolish” or “stupid.”
4. To Butter Someone Up
This is one of those expressions you use without thinking. Taken literally, it sounds messy and unpleasant, but it actually means heaping praise and flattery on someone in order to get something from them. This phrase is rumored to originate from an ancient Indian religious custom. People would throw balls of butter at statues of gods when seeking their favor. We don’t recommend trying this custom on your boss…
Remember those kids in high school who wore all black, listened to punk rock, and went a little crazy with the eyeliner? You may have guessed that the term goth is short for gothic, a medieval style of architecture and literature. But you may not have known that the words goth and gothic refer back to ancient history. The Goths were a Germanic tribe that invaded Rome in the third century and are said to have played a role in the fall of the Roman Empire. The Romans considered the Goths uncivilized barbarians. But those “barbarians” held pockets of power for a few centuries. Fast forward to medieval Europe, where Gothic architecture was seen as uncultured and barbaric, as opposed to its predecessor, Renaissance architecture. The architecture led to the dark, horror-based literature and culture, which inspired those kids from your high school.
6. Running Amok
When your children are bouncing off the walls, screaming and acting wild, you might say they are “running amok.” But after you learn the origin of that expression, you will probably think twice before using it. The word “amok” likely comes from the Amuco — a group of warriors in Malaysia who were known for their indiscriminate violence. It is also likely derived from amuk, which is a Malay word meaning “attacking furiously.” It was used to describe seemingly sane tribesmen in Malaysia who would go on random killing rampages. In Malay culture, some people believed these rampages were caused by evil spirits possessing the attacker. The phrase “run amok” was popularized by the explorer Captain James Cook, who wrote about the phenomenon in his book Voyages in 1772.
当你的孩子尖叫着在墙边跳来跳去举止疯狂时，你可能会说他们‘疯了’。但是当你弄清楚这个短语的起源时，下次使用这个短语的时候你可能就会三思了。‘Amok’这个词很可能来源于Amuco — 一群在马来西亚的战士，他们以滥杀无辜闻名。它也有可能起源于amuk，这是一个马来语，意为‘疯狂的进攻’。这个词用来描述马来西亚的看似神智正常的男子，但是他们却会随意杀人。在马来西亚的文化中，这种疯狂是由有攻击性的黑暗幽灵导致的。‘Run amok’这个短语是由探险家詹姆斯·库克在他的著作《1772年航行》中推广的。
7. Cat Got Your Tongue?
Next time your snarky friend asks you this when you can’t think of what to say, reply with this little gem of a story. Rumor has it that in ancient Egypt, liars and blasphemers would have their tongues cut out and fed to the cats. Cats were considered gods, so the tongues made for a nice human sacrifice. A second unproven explanation for the saying is that the English Navy would use a multi-tailed whip called a “cat o’ nine tails” to brutally punish misbehaving sailors, hitting them until they were rendered speechless. Either of these stories should leave your friend without a comeback, to which you can say: “What’s the matter? Cat got your tongue?”
下次当你的朋友问你问题，你不知道该怎么回答时，可以使用这个回答。有传说称，在古埃及，说谎者和亵渎者要把舌头割下来喂猫。猫被视作为神，舌头是人类可以提供的一种很好的祭祀品。另一种未经证实的解释是英国海军会使用一种叫做“cat o’ nine tails”的多尾鞭来残忍地惩罚行为不端的水手，他们会用这种多尾鞭一直打他们直至他们说不出话来。无论是哪种故事起源都会让你的朋友不会再继续这个话题，你可以说：“什么事？猫把你的舌头吃了吗？”。