Out on a Limb








Clothes make the man, the saying goes, and they also make a number of catchy phrases. 


“Dammit, Bones, I’m a Captain…not a seamstress!”

Keep your shirt on – Commonly used to mean “calm down” or be patient, this phrase harkens back to the time before modern manufacturing techniques.

Shirts required a lot of labor to make and were more expensive than they are today (we weren’t as friendly with China, then).  Someone thinking of starting a fight, might take his shirt off to prevent damage.  Telling someone to “keep his shirt on” was equivalent to telling him “I don’t want to fight”.


Now, if you could only send bad behavior out for some tailoring!

Cut from the same cloth – When making a suit, the jacket and trousers should be cut from the same piece of cloth, to ensure a perfect match, since there may be differences in weave, color, etc.  Only if the whole suit is cut from the same piece of cloth can one be sure of the match, hence, the phrase implies a strong similarity or match, many times heard applied to behavior (one phrase you don’t want to hear is “He and Attila the Hun must be cut from the same cloth”).


I was doing so well with celebrities stopping by to help out with the blog, but darned if I couldn’t get any to wear their heart on their sleeve.

Wearing your heart on your sleeve – There are a couple of origins for this phrase about openly showing your emotions, but the most compelling relates to the work of the Bard himself.  The phrase is used in Shakespeare’s Othello, in a line spoken by Iago:  “I will wear my heart upon my sleeve”.  In this case, Iago plans to deceive Othello by feigning openness and vulnerability to gain his trust and then betray him.  Oh that Bill Shakespeare, he’s so tricky!  No wonder so many of his lines make it into common use.

There you have it…the power of the permanent press!


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