The Origin Of English Phrases: Biblical Sayings

I bet you didn’t realise that you quoted the Bible on a daily basis did you? Here’s some common English phrases that started their lives in the Bible.

The English language is a queer beast. I guess most languages are pretty odd if you look at them long and hard enough. English has been influenced and added to over the years by Danish, Italian, German, French, Gaelic and pretty much any other nationality it’s been in contact with.

One of the biggest influences on our language has been the Bible. It’s a book that’s been part of the fabric of our country for centuries, and as such it’s slipped odds and ends into our vernacular. You probably use most of the following phrases fairly regularly, but I bet you didn’t know you were quoting the Bible did you?

A Bird In The Hand Is Worth Two In The Bush

Phrase Origins Bible - bird in the hand

This phrase has been around since medieval times. It refers back to the days when falconry was the coolest thing to do. Back in the olden days falconry was taken very seriously, and each level of society had an appropriate bird they were allowed to handle. If you were a pauper caught handling a peregrine falcon for instance you could get your hands chopped off.

The first written instance of this phrase was in Wycliffe’s version of the Bible which was translated in 1382. His was the first hand-written copy of the Bible in England. The saying itself was probably around before the Bible made it to England but it was certainly popularised by the spread of the Bible.

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