What's the origin of...?
To Look a gift-horse in the mouth
Origin cannot be determined, but as early as the 4th century St. Jerome
labeled it a common proverb. The reference is to bad manners displayed by one when
accepting a gift if he examines it for deficiencies. (One can tell how old a horse
is by looking into it's mouth.)
A horse of a different color
Something of a different nature from that under consideration. It was used by
Shakespeare as "a horse of the same color" in the Twelfth Night.
Legend states that the phrase "a horse of another color" came from the White
Horse of Berkshire, a huge carved picture in West Berkshire, almost 400 feet long -
covering approximately 2 acres in commemoration of King Ethelrod and his brother Alfred
the Great win over the Danes in 871, though the picture is believed to be even older.
It was the custom of neighborhood people to make it a "horse of another
color" periodically by clearing out the grass and debris from the trenches by which
the figure is outlined.
To put (or set) the cart before the horse
To get the order of things reversed. (The Greeks said "Hysteron proteron"
= "the later the former". The Romans said, "Currus boveris trahit
preiposter" = The plow is drawn before the ox.) The phrase first appeared in English.
It is found in Dan Michael's Auenbite of Inwiht (Remorse of Conscience), a translation by
Dan Michael of a French treatise, written by Laurentis Galler, in 1279, into the dialect
of Kent (which actually said "many religions have set the plow before the
Refers to rows of clap boards laid with their butt edge against the butt edges of
shingles on clapboards so as to provide a flat surface over which asphalt or other
shingles or siding may be laid. Official term: Feathering Studs =
tapered boards laid on wood shingle roofs to provide a flat surface for asphalt shingles
to be laid in reroofing [i.e., House feathers]. By about 1925 it came to be used to
mean nonsense, an exclamation (!), etc.
Source: 2107 Curious Word
Origins, Sayings and Expressions, 1993, Galahad Books, NY NY ISBN -088365 845 3