So many idioms, so little time! Did you know that the English language has more than 25,000 idioms? That’s right, 25,000! Just in case you snoozed through high school English Lit class (not judging), the Oxford dictionary defines “idiom” as this: A group of words established by usage as having a meaning not deducible from those of the individual words. Huh? An example makes it clearer for me. Like “raining cats and dogs” or “it’s a piece of cake.” The idiom’s meaning really has little to do with the actual words in the phrase. “Raining cats and dogs” means it’s raining really hard! A job is really easy if “it’s a piece of cake.” Now you know.
It stands to reason that camping has contributed to the great number of idioms in today’s language. Let’s take a look at just a few:
“Hit the road”
The origin or this idiom began during the horse and buggy days. “Hit the road” referred to the way a horse’s hooves struck (hit) the road. As such, it meant “to travel on.” If I tell my hubby “It’s time to hit the road,” he knows I’m ready to get in the RV and travel.
The phrase “hit the road” took a negative turn in the 1960s. That’s when Percy Mayfield wrote the song made famous by Ray Charles. The song? “Hit the Road, Jack.” The song’s popularity expanded the idiom’s meaning to be an abrupt way to tell someone to leave.
This idiom originated in 1768. A naval term, “rough it,” meant “subject to hardships” while away at sea. More than 100 years later, Mark Twain used the phrase as the title for his book, “Roughing It.” The book details Twain’s adventures throughout the Wild West. (Twain accompanied his brother, Orion Clemens, who served as the Secretary of the Nevada Territory.)
Traveling in today’s RVs can hardly be described as “roughing it.” When I think about vacationing in our fifth wheel, I rarely think of it as “subjected to hardships.” Hubby and I tend to use this idiom with tongue in cheek. (Hey, another idiom!)
“Sleep like a log”
This idiom’s meaning may seem overly obvious – a log doesn’t move. To “sleep like a log” generally means a deep, satisfying sleep without moving. However, some word historians think the phrase originated as early as the 1600s. Cutting down trees or lumberjacking was common at the time. Big, brawny men spent hours during the day clearing land. Once a tree fell, the large logs were sawed into smaller pieces. This demanding work often caused complete exhaustion. Once the lumberjack fell asleep, he was immovable (like one of the large logs). And the snoring sound he made resembled the sound of sawing the logs.
There’s just something about RVing that makes me sleep like a log. No exhausting exercise required. Just getting away from the daily pressures and worries; breathing clean, fresh air; and facing no “to do list” is enough.