Now You Know
Why when someone dies do we say,“He bought
During the Second World War, airmen introduced
the term “he bought
the farm” after a pilot was shot down. The
expression caught on with all
the armed services and meant that if you
gave your life for your country,
your impoverished family would receive insurance
money for your
death, which would help pay off the mortgage
on the family farm. Death
for your country meant you were “buying the
farm” for your parents.
Why is a glaring error called a “snafu”?
During the Second World War, massive military
operations were so
huge they were usually fouled up by their
sheer weight and size. The
frustrated servicemen called them SNAFUs,
an acronym for “Situation
Normal: All Fouled Up.” Some say that “fouled
up” was a polite adaptation
for family use, but regardless, the expression
snafu lived on, and
now, as it did then, means a glaring error.
Why is a restricted limit called a “deadline”?
A deadline is an absolute limit, usually
a time limit, and was popularized
by the newspaper business, in which getting
stories written and printed on
time is of ultimate importance. But the expression
comes from American
Civil War prisoners, who were kept within
crude makeshift boundaries,
often just a line scratched in the dirt or
an easily breached rail fence. They
were told, “If you cross this line, you are
dead,” and soon the guards and
prisoners simply called it what it was: a
Why do paratroopers shout “Geronimo” when
they jump from a plane?
During the Second World War, Native American
began the custom of shouting the name of
the great Indian chief
Geronimo when jumping from a plane because,
according to legend,
when cornered at a cliff’s edge by U.S. cavalrymen,
defiance, screamed his own name as he leaped
to certain death, only
to escape both injury and the bluecoats.
Why when someone ignores the rules do we
say he “turned a blind eye”?
In 1801, while second in command of a British
fleet near Copenhagen,
Horatio Nelson was told that his commander
had sent up flags ordering
a retreat. Nelson lifted his spyglass to
his previously blinded eye and
said he couldn’t see the order, and then
he ordered and led a successful
attack. Nelson’s insubordination became legend
and gave us the
expression “turn a blind eye.”
From The Book Titled "Now You Know"
by Doug Lennox