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    Bullets, Pies and Needle's Eyes: The History Behind Bizarre English Sayings

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    "Bob's your uncle", "eating humble pie" and doing something '"through the eye of a needle" - the English language is full of colourful and bizarre sayings, leading a group of linguistics experts to pick out some of the language's most interesting sayings and look at how they came into popular use.

    The study, commissioned by UK insurance firm Privilege, identified some of the common phrases that would otherwise make no sense in other languages, and tried to describe their historical context.

    Bite the Bullet

    While the phrase, which describes having to do something rather unpleasant, doesn't have anything to do with bullets these days, researchers found the saying did develop from times of war.

    According to the study, the saying developed out of WWI, when soldiers being operated on without anesthetic literally had to deal with the pain by biting on a bullet.

    Through the Eye of a Needle

    Widely used in modern English, the phrase — which describes trying to complete a very difficult or delicate task — is one of many to have biblical origins.

    Featuring in the testaments of Matthew 19:24; Mark 10:25; and Luke 18:25, the Bible states that it is "easier for a camel to pass through the eye of needle than for a rich person to get to heaven."

    To Eat Humble Pie

    Rather than tucking into a tasty main meal or a dessert, the saying actually has a rather different meaning. "To eat humble pie" describes someone being forced to do something against their values, or to admit that they are wrong.

    The phrase is thought to have come from historical Middle English, with the old French word "nombles" meaning loin, which referred to a common meal for the poor at the time.

    Bob's Your Uncle

    The phrase, which is generally used to describe the act of achieving something with great ease, is another commonly used saying with historical origins.

    Researchers have attributed the saying back to 1886, when British Prime Minister Robert 'Bob' Gascoyne-Cecil surprisingly appointed his nephew, Arthur Balfour, to the position of Chief Secretary of Ireland, which gave birth to the famous saying.


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