Now You Know

Where did the expression “paying through the nose” come from?

In Northern Ireland during the ninth century, the British introduced a
harsh poll tax of one ounce of gold per year on all Irish households. The
tax was nicknamed the “Nose Tax” because if a person didn’t or couldn’t
pay, he had his nose slit. This cruel but effective procedure gave rise
to the expression “paying through the nose,” meaning if unreasonable
due payments aren’t made, there will be dire consequences.

Why is someone displaying absolute loyalty said to be “true blue”?

With the slogan “a true covenantor wears true blue,” the Scottish
Presbyterians adopted blue as their colour in the seventeenth century
during their defense of their faith against Charles I. The instruction
came from Numbers 15:38 in the scriptures, which tells the children of
Israel to fringe the borders of their garments in ribbons of blue. Blue is
a powerful symbol of Judaism and the national colour of Israel.

Why do we say “justice is blind”?

The Egyptian pharaohs, concerned that courtroom theatrics might
influence the administration of justice, established the practice of
holding trials in darkened chambers with absolutely no light. That way,
the judge wouldn’t be moved by anything but the facts. It’s this principle
that inspired Lady Justice, the well-known statue of a woman in a
blindfold holding the scales of justice that is often found outside contemporary

Why do we say a graduating lawyer has “passed the bar”?

To control rowdiness, a wooden bar was built across early courtrooms
to separate the judge, lawyers, and other principle players from the
riffraff seated in the public area. That bar, first used in the sixteenth
century, also underlies the English word barrister, the lawyer who
argues the case in court. When someone has “passed the bar” or has
been “called to the bar,” it means he or she is now allowed into the
closed-off area.

Why, when someone has been fooled, do we say he’s had “the wool pulled over his eyes”?

In British courts, both judges and attorneys wear wool wigs, a custom
that originated in the eighteenth century. The judge’s wig is larger
than the lawyer’s, so he’s often called the “bigwig.” When a crafty
lawyer wins at trial against all odds, it’s as though the lawyer had
blinded the judge with his own wig. It’s said he just had “the wool
pulled over his eyes.”

From The Book Titled "Now You Know" by Doug Lennox