Where does this word come from?


“Instead of a handshake, I gave Toby a high-five to break the ice; and when we sat on the front porch and started talking about the headline it was like a coincidence brought us together.

This sentence contains several words and actions that you see and hear every day. But have you ever wondered where some of our most common communication terms come from?

Hand shake

We do it every day – sometimes 20 times a day. But how many of us actually know where the handshake comes from? According to author / speaker Melvin Murphy, “The handshake has more anthropological than historical origins. The men carried knives, spears and stones. And when land was scarce, men reached out to show that they weren’t trying to kill their neighbor. . “

“Moreover, the classical Greeks felt that the right hands were mysteriously tied to the heart. And they might not have been far apart. The handshake is a symbol equivalent to a promise. It becomes a virtue of the word and value of the person extending it. It is an agreement sealed with honor before lawyers get involved. The handshake is a very valuable tool and, as in business often communication is one-on-one, it is flexible and indicates that an agreement has on pending transactions. It says that all information and intentions have been disclosed so that the value of the handshake is not diminished. The lesson here is that the handshake still has had symbolic importance. It’s good to know what your handshake is worth. It’s your word and it says you can keep your promises. “

High five

It was at the end of the 1977 season. Dusty Baker of the Dodgers was third, heading home, after hitting his 30th homerun. The Dodgers were heading for a National League pennant! The hitter on the bridge was Glenn Burke, enjoying his second season in the big leagues. As Baker crossed the plate, Burke raised his hand. Baker responded by raising his own. Both hands slapped each other and a bit of history was made: the very first high-five.

Popularized in the 1980s, the high-five not only served as a cultural symbol, but was added to the dictionary as well! According to Merriam Webster, a high-five (noun or verb) is “a slap of the right hand raised by two people, as if to celebrate.”

Break the ice

The origin of the term breaking the ice goes back to ancient business practices that involved, well, breaking the ice. When the freighters became stranded in the ice for weeks due to harsh, freezing winters, smaller ships were sent to break the ice in order to chart a path that would allow future trade. In other words, if you (as a boatman) wanted to get down to business, you had to break the ice.

Front porch

In the book Preserve porches, René Kahn explains that front porches were first made popular by the Greeks. They used them as meeting places for public discussions, originally called porticos. As history unfolded and the Middle Ages arrived, the porch came to represent the lobby of a cathedral where worshipers could gather to socialize before and after the service. Then, in Victorian times, the word “porch” became interchangeable with the words “veranda,” “piazza,” “loggia” and “portico,” each of which could connote individual meanings. From this period until the second half of the 19th century, the word “porch” itself most often describes a small closed vestibule or a covered rear entrance.

At this time, at the end of the 19th century, the word “porch” began to represent its present meaning. This meaning, in its American sense, generally refers to a “covered but incompletely enclosed living space”. Honestly, I like what Bill Cosby says about front porches: “The front porch was an invention of the housewife who wanted to keep her husband far enough away to be quiet; but close enough in case she couldn’t lift anything heavy. “

Off the cuff

According to http://www.idiomsite.com, although this phrase is traditionally taken as a spontaneous statement or response (isn’t it amazing how he finds these ideas like that …?), C ‘ is actually has its origins in one of two places, depending on who you are listening to. One example comes from the accounting system of English pub publishers. Bartenders at the time kept track of customer tabs by marks made on the starched cuffs of their shirts, so that with just a glance at the cuffs of their shirts, the bartender could apparently quote a price. “ in the news ”. It may also be the alleged practice in the 1930s of public speakers taking last-minute notes on the cuffs of their shirts, for use in their speeches.


According to http://www.word-detective.com, the link that you have heard of between “serendipity” and Sri Lanka is true, and it is a very interesting story. In 1754 Horace Walpole, fourth Earl of Orford, wrote a letter to his friend Horace Mann. In this letter, Horace W. proceeded to explain to Horace M. the derivation of a new word he had coined, “serendipity”:

I once read a silly fairy tale called “The Three Princes of Serendip”; As their Highnesses traveled, they always made discoveries, by accident and sagacity, things they were not looking for.

By “serendipity”, Walpole meant “the gift of making happy discoveries, of finding precious things that one does not seek”, and the word entered English in this sense. Oddly, however, “ serendipity ” was rarely used in literature until the 20th century, and today it is more often used to refer to find or chance itself, as in “ A parking meter with time left on when broke is a fluke. ‘”

So the next time someone mentions any of these words; shakes your hand or gives you a high five; tell him the story! It’s a great conversation starter and a sure-fire way to spice up the meeting.


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