Bitesize Episode 83 - Behind the Words: The Etymology of British Phrases

In this episode of the British English Podcast, Charlie and Harry dive into the fascinating etymology of British phrases. This segment, originally part of their live show in London, promises an engaging exploration of language history and cultural insights.
Jul 4 / Charlie Baxter

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What's this episode about?

In this episode of the British English Podcast, Charlie and Harry dive into the fascinating etymology of British phrases. This segment, originally part of their live show in London, promises an engaging exploration of language history and cultural insights.
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Transcript of Bitesize Ep 83 - Transcript

Charlie:
Hello and welcome to the British English Podcast, the show all about British culture and teaching you British English along the way. And today, well, actually we have a very British English focus on this episode because it's all about the etymology of some phrases and we have Harry with us today to go through them. So yes. Hello, Harry. How are you doing today?

Harry:
Hello, Chaz. I'm well, thank you. Are you well?

Charlie:
I'm very well, thank you. Yes, yes, all is good. Um, this is actually a hangover of the live show. I created like 6 or 7 extra things to do in the live show that we did in London in April. And yeah, so this is one of the segments that we didn't get to do, which is which was a shame. But we we had some fun, didn't we.

Harry:
Abso-bloody-xactly. Yeah. We had a bloody whale of a time so. Yeah. That'll be, that'll be nice. I remember at the end of the show I was thinking, you know, it was winding down and we'd, we'd done lots, I think the allotted time of the, or the planned time of the podcast had elapsed. We had done about an hour and a half.

Charlie:
Yeah.

Harry:
But I was thinking I could do more like it was so fun.

Charlie:
Yeah, yeah it was.

Harry:
I'm looking forward to to doing this section now.

Charlie:
Nice. Okay. So um, yeah. Etymology of language. We've got a couple of phrases. The first one is bite the bullet, bite the bullet. So this means to bravely endure an unavoidable, painful situation. Can you think of any examples for us with this phrase?

Harry:
Absolutely. So when my cat bit my finger, I used to have a cat. Her name was Ruby. Uh, when she bit my finger, I had to bite the bullet and have her put down.

Charlie:
Is this true?

Harry:
No, I didn't have her put down. She died of natural causes.

Charlie:
Natural causes being a spade to the head.

Harry:
Exactly. That's how they used to do it. And that's how we do it in my household. Yeah.

Charlie:
I shouldn't joke because we did the pigeon pest episode and I got a lot of bad stick about that from my academy students. Have you taught that episode at all?

Harry:
I think I might have done. Why did you get a lot of stick for it? What did you say that was uh?

Charlie:
There was a pigeon incident at university.

Harry:
Oh you shot a pigeon?

Charlie:
No! I didn't do anything. I was just a bystander of a putting a pigeon out of its misery.

Harry:
Okay, okay.

Charlie:
Situation.

Harry:
Yeah. What did they think you should have done? Intervened? You should have said no. Let's it just die slowly.

Charlie:
Slowly. Um, I didn't ask, I didn't ask, uh, but, yeah, I could, I could tell I didn't do myself any favours.

Harry:
Yeah.

Charlie:
So, I mean, some people don't want to hurt a fly. Would you say that you're that kind of person?

Harry:
Yeah.

Charlie:
Would you, would you hit a fly?

Harry:
I wouldn't, no.

Charlie:
You wouldn't hit a fly.

Harry:
No, no.

Charlie:
Okay.

Harry:
Dima, my friend Dima, uh, on our Camino, uh, which we just recorded an episode about, he wouldn't let any fly, um, kind of live if he saw any flight, it was going to die, basically. Um, one evening, I witnessed an absolute massacre of flies. Um, and I wasn't I didn't protest against it. In fact, I yeah, there were lots of them around. I was thinking Dima, would you mind getting this one as well?

Charlie:
Sending your hitman out?

Harry:
Yeah, he was good at it. He he did not miss. He did not miss. He always got them. But yeah, I never.

Charlie:
He's a professional.

Harry:
With flies I always try and get them out. I open the window and try to usher them out of the.

Charlie:
Yeah, Okay. So he's a real fly swatter.

Harry:
He's a fly swatter. Yeah. He's good.

Charlie:
Can't think of another context where you'd use that verb to swat.

Harry:
No. Yeah. Swat team.

Charlie:
How do you spell that? Is it the same as Swat?

Harry:
Yeah. SWAT no?

Charlie:
Yeah.

Harry:
It's a cool implement.

Charlie:
Can you swat anything anything other than a fly? Mosquitoes. Bees. Wasps. Moths. Spiders. Swat a spider! You can't swat a spider.

Harry:
I guess you could if it was, um, balancing on its. On its web, right?

Charlie:
Right. Yeah.

Harry:
They say it's to clap it between two hands. So you could. You could.

Charlie:
Oh, I didn't know that. I thought it was sort of hitting it with one hand.

Harry:
I guess it's hitting it with anything, right?

Charlie:
Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Harry:
Because there is a fly swatter is the tool you use to swat the fly.

Charlie:
Yes, yes, yes. I was thinking that because that's an extension basically of your elbow to hand isn't it.

Harry:
Abso-bloody-lutely.

Charlie:
Yeah. Uh, okay. So back to bite the bullet. You put your cat down.

Harry:
Yeah.

Charlie:
Metaphorically. Uh no, not metaphor. It's a it's a lie. Um, so why was that? That was painful for you. You're saying?

Harry:
Mm. Yeah. No one wants to put their pet down really. You know, it's something that you do to to alleviate its suffering, right?

Charlie:
Yes, yes.

Harry:
Um, so, I mean, I wasn't alleviating alleviating the cat suffering really. Uh, obviously it had an anger problem. Um, so I was, yeah, putting it out of its misery there. It wasn't going to have any more flare ups of, you know, anger management issues because, uh, she was going to die.

Charlie:
Yeah. Yeah. I would like to have a visual banner under us. Even in an audio only show saying he is joking. He is joking. Yes.

Harry:
Yeah, yeah. So I was putting it out. Yeah. I was, um, biting the bullet is doing something you don't want to do. So. Yeah, I didn't want to put my cat down. So I bit the bullet and I put the cat down.

Charlie:
Yeah. Very nice, very nice. I got, uh, I've got another example. I really didn't want to spend the weekend cleaning the garage, but I finally decided to bite the bullet and just do it. This is another example of a more day to day thing that you're putting off that you don't want to do. And here's a synonym: face the music. You just have to face the music and do it. As in, you have to face up to the problem and confront it and do it. Right?

Harry:
Absolutely. Yeah, that's nice.

Charlie:
And the phrase dates back to the days before modern anaesthesia during battlefield surgeries, um soldiers would literally have to bite down on a bullet to endure the pain without screaming. Maybe because the enemy are near. Don't scream. You'll give away our location.

Harry:
Wow, I like that.

Charlie:
Yeah.

Harry:
That's great.

Charlie:
That last bit is probably my imagination. But yeah, the idiom now means to face a painful or otherwise unpleasant situation that is unavoidable. So yes, whether you've got a bullet wound, um, or a cat to put down, you can say to bite the bullet.

Harry:
Mm. Nice. I wouldn't have chosen a bullet to bite on, though.

Charlie:
Very hard, yeah.

Harry:
Horrible to bite a bullet.

Charlie:
I know.

Harry:
It's like a battery or something. I mean.

Charlie:
Maybe.

Harry:
Would you bite, a cushion or something?

Charlie:
There are rubber bullets now, aren't there? That would be nice.

Harry:
Yeah, yeah.

Charlie:
Yeah.

Harry:
Maybe they were rubber bullets.

Charlie:
Probably not. Um, bite down on a tampon? Did you know tampons were, no tampons I think were very, very useful in, uh, on the battlefield, you'd shove a tampon into a bullet wound because it would absorb blood really well.

Harry:
Really?

Charlie:
Mhm.

Harry:
Wow. It would make sense.

Charlie:
I don't know when tampons became a thing, but they are used or have been used on the battlefield.

Harry:
That's amazing. I had a patient the other day who had a nosebleed and he put a tampon up his nose.

Charlie:
Ha, ha. Oh, no, I've done that.

Harry:
You've actually done that?

Charlie:
I've done that. A bit of a joke, but I had hay fever last year and I put a tampon up my nose because I had such a runny nose.

Harry:
How long did you keep it up there for?

Charlie:
Over half an hour.

Harry:
Wow.

Charlie:
Yeah.

Harry:
Just one nostril?

Charlie:
Just one nostril. Yeah.

Harry:
Did you just have one runny nostril?

Charlie:
Yeah. Yeah. The other one was blocked. Yeah.

Harry:
Right. With a tampon.

Charlie:
Yeah. Sexy. But yeah. Um. Okay. Should we move on to the next phrase?

Harry:
Yeah.

Charlie:
Okay. The next one is let the cat out of the bag. Um, so this is to reveal a secret. To let the cat out of the bag, to reveal a secret. Uh, you got an example for me, Harry?

Harry:
Yeah, a bit strange this one. When I tried to keep my crush a secret, Charlie let the cat out of the bag by shouting, hey, look who's blushing!

Charlie:
Look who's blushing! What? So I said it. I said the secret. And then I pointed at you, saying, hey, look who's blushing!

Harry:
So no, you let the cat out of the bag by shouting look who's blushing! So I guess what was happening was I we were there, we were just chatting. And then my crush came into the room and I started blushing.

Charlie:
Oh, okay.

Harry:
Because I like them. And I was a bit, I don't know, embarrassed to be there.

Charlie:
Yes.

Harry:
I don't know why I was embarrassed, but you were like, oh, hey, look who's blushing. Christina's just walked in the room.

Charlie:
Okay.

Harry:
And then that, that gave it away. You know that let the cat out of the bag.

Charlie:
Yeah. Christina. Lucky Christina, whoever that is.

Harry:
Yeah. I guess you could let the cat out of the bag by saying something else. Like Harry likes you. I don't know.

Charlie:
I mean, that would literally be opening the the bag and letting the cat jump out, right?

Harry:
Yeah.

Charlie:
But yeah, yeah, to let the cat out of out of the bag. Um, a similar phrase is spill the beans.

Harry:
Spill the beans. Yeah. And you can also say spill the tea, can't you?

Charlie:
Ah, okay.

Harry:
Spill the tea.

Charlie:
I think I've heard you say that before. Yeah. I don't think I use it, so spill the tea. I'm not. I'm not saying it's not a phrase. Don't worry, don't Google it. But, um. Yeah, you you use it in the same way. Spill the beans. Spill the tea. I can imagine that. Yeah.

Harry:
But this is more so sharing gossip or revealing interesting news. So the tea relates to it... Yeah.

Charlie:
Yeah. I mean fairly similar to uh, to let the cat out of the bag, for example. Um, I think I did it when I knew somebody was pregnant. And then we went and played golf and the guys were chatting and I said to the husband, oh, it'd be great for you that you can get picked up by her when she's not drinking. And everyone was like, what? Why? Why is she not drinking? I was like, um, uh um, bye. So I let the cat out the bag.

Harry:
He knew she was pregnant, right?

Charlie:
He knew. I knew. They didn't.

Harry:
Right. Okay.

Charlie:
The other two guys.

Harry:
Right. Yeah. Was he was he, like, still saving it up to reveal later?

Charlie:
Well, it was just before the 12 weeks. So you're not really meant to tell people until then, aren't you? Are you? Yeah. So I let the cat out of the bag. I'm not really good with that. I'm quite transparent. Like if Stacy's got a secret and then people are asking me, how are you? I will probably spill the beans or let the cat out the bag in some way. Accidentally.

Harry:
Good to know. Good to know.

Charlie:
Yeah. I'd be a terrible spy.

Harry:
Yeah, yeah, I'm just trying to think or friend.

Charlie:
Well, the thing is, if it's something that won't improve the conversation or won't sort of let my honest feelings out, then you're fine. So if it's a deep secret that won't, you know, create sort of interest.

Harry:
Yeah, yeah.

Charlie:
Then your secret's safe.

Harry:
Yeah. Sure, sure. No, I get that. Yeah. Fair enough. Yeah. I can't imagine you spilling the beans on something quite. You know, that would really hurt someone.

Charlie:
Yes.

Harry:
Or something like that. You're not. You're not vindictive piece of shit.

Charlie:
No. Yeah. If it was really interesting to the person that I'm talking to, there might be a risk. But if it was a secret thing, that's not really, you know, nice to talk about. That's locked in.

Harry:
Yeah. Yeah, exactly.

Charlie:
Yeah. Um, one final example. I accidentally let the cat out of the bag at Sarah's wedding about her being nine weeks pregnant. Oh, this is.

Harry:
Different example!

Charlie:
This is a different example. This is a different example. Same context. Yeah. I'll finish it, though, uh. At Sarah's wedding, about her being nine weeks pregnant when making small talk with her grandmother. Okay, uh, there you go. That would be quite a bad moment, wouldn't it? You know, she's knocked up already, kind of thing.

Harry:
Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Nice.

Charlie:
Um. Oh, before we move on, let's do the etymology of course, the etymology is the whole point. Um, so this saying let the cat out of the bag, which means to reveal a secret, likely comes from a common medieval market scam. Farmers would sell pigs to unsuspecting customers in a bag, but sometimes a less valuable cat would be placed inside the bag instead. If the cat jumped out when the bag was opened, the scam was revealed. So here's a pig mate. Enjoy the pig, and then meow, a cat comes out. Ah, that's not a pig. Your secret's revealed, you little naughty man.

Harry:
Were they like baby pigs?

Charlie:
Piglets? Yeah.

Harry:
They were pig, they were piglets, yeah?

Charlie:
Farmers would sell pigs to unsuspecting customers in a bag.

Harry:
It'd be pretty obvious if it was a, it was a cat, right?

Charlie:
It's got to be a huge cat, a Maine Coon? Yeah. Versus.

Harry:
Are you sure there's a pig in here? Yeah. Just go, just go. Yes.

Charlie:
A fully grown sow.

Harry:
Yeah.

Charlie:
Huge. Like what, 25 stone? Probably.

Harry:
Maybe they put loads of cats. Maybe they put like ten cats in there or something.

Charlie:
Bag of cats. Yeah.

Harry:
Yeah. A bag of cats.

Charlie:
What an idiot to fall for this scam.

Harry:
I know, what a dumb ass. You'd think they'd come up with a, um, another farmyard animal or, you know, large animal that's, uh. That weighs. Yeah, weighs a fair bit.

Charlie:
Well, if it's a farm.

Harry:
Or the shape of a pig.

Charlie:
If it's a farmyard animal, then it's probably worth something, right? So it's not really. I mean, cats, though they probably sell for more than pigs. No. Maybe not. Um, it depends what you want to do with them.

Harry:
Let's go through the options of what we can do with a cat.

Charlie:
Uh, so, cat.

Harry:
Top three uses of a cat.

Charlie:
Okay. A cat will help you, uh, rid the plague. And this comes to an interesting fact about how witches were associated with, uh, cats. So women in. During the plague, women who survived the plague tended to have cats because the cats would fight off the mice and the rats. And those were the rodents that carried the plague. So single, often women who are not married would get a cat, and that would keep them company. They would be middle aged. And then that would that turned into the stereotype of these people thinking that those women who avoided the plague were witches.

Harry:
Ah interesting.

Charlie:
And then that led to, ah, she's a witch because she has a cat. Black cat equals witch.

Harry:
Oh brilliant, brilliant, I like that, I like that.

Charlie:
Nice.

Harry:
And then they started putting their cats in bags.

Charlie:
Yeah. Oh, we could do something here. Yeah, we could put a cat in a bag and then sell it as a pig. Yeah.

Harry:
Yeah. So they don't kill us thinking we're witches.

Charlie:
Exactly. Yeah, yeah. Get rid of your cats before they burn you at the stake. Um. So. Yeah. Let the cat out of the bag, to reveal a secret. Um, shall we move on to the final one, or is that the end? That's the end, isn't it?

Harry:
Yeah. I think that's good.

Charlie:
Nice. Alright. Thank you, Harry. And thank you guys for listening to the end of this bitesize episode around the etymology of some interesting phrases. See you again soon on the British English podcast. Bye Bye.

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Transcript of Bitesize Ep 83 - Transcript

Charlie:
Hello and welcome to the British English Podcast, the show all about British culture and teaching you British English along the way. And today, well, actually we have a very British English focus on this episode because it's all about the etymology of some phrases and we have Harry with us today to go through them. So yes. Hello, Harry. How are you doing today?

Harry:
Hello, Chaz. I'm well, thank you. Are you well?

Charlie:
I'm very well, thank you. Yes, yes, all is good. Um, this is actually a hangover of the live show. I created like 6 or 7 extra things to do in the live show that we did in London in April. And yeah, so this is one of the segments that we didn't get to do, which is which was a shame. But we we had some fun, didn't we.

Harry:
Abso-bloody-xactly. Yeah. We had a bloody whale of a time so. Yeah. That'll be, that'll be nice. I remember at the end of the show I was thinking, you know, it was winding down and we'd, we'd done lots, I think the allotted time of the, or the planned time of the podcast had elapsed. We had done about an hour and a half.

Charlie:
Yeah.

Harry:
But I was thinking I could do more like it was so fun.

Charlie:
Yeah, yeah it was.

Harry:
I'm looking forward to to doing this section now.

Charlie:
Nice. Okay. So um, yeah. Etymology of language. We've got a couple of phrases. The first one is bite the bullet, bite the bullet. So this means to bravely endure an unavoidable, painful situation. Can you think of any examples for us with this phrase?

Harry:
Absolutely. So when my cat bit my finger, I used to have a cat. Her name was Ruby. Uh, when she bit my finger, I had to bite the bullet and have her put down.

Charlie:
Is this true?

Harry:
No, I didn't have her put down. She died of natural causes.

Charlie:
Natural causes being a spade to the head.

Harry:
Exactly. That's how they used to do it. And that's how we do it in my household. Yeah.

Charlie:
I shouldn't joke because we did the pigeon pest episode and I got a lot of bad stick about that from my academy students. Have you taught that episode at all?

Harry:
I think I might have done. Why did you get a lot of stick for it? What did you say that was uh?

Charlie:
There was a pigeon incident at university.

Harry:
Oh you shot a pigeon?

Charlie:
No! I didn't do anything. I was just a bystander of a putting a pigeon out of its misery.

Harry:
Okay, okay.

Charlie:
Situation.

Harry:
Yeah. What did they think you should have done? Intervened? You should have said no. Let's it just die slowly.

Charlie:
Slowly. Um, I didn't ask, I didn't ask, uh, but, yeah, I could, I could tell I didn't do myself any favours.

Harry:
Yeah.

Charlie:
So, I mean, some people don't want to hurt a fly. Would you say that you're that kind of person?

Harry:
Yeah.

Charlie:
Would you, would you hit a fly?

Harry:
I wouldn't, no.

Charlie:
You wouldn't hit a fly.

Harry:
No, no.

Charlie:
Okay.

Harry:
Dima, my friend Dima, uh, on our Camino, uh, which we just recorded an episode about, he wouldn't let any fly, um, kind of live if he saw any flight, it was going to die, basically. Um, one evening, I witnessed an absolute massacre of flies. Um, and I wasn't I didn't protest against it. In fact, I yeah, there were lots of them around. I was thinking Dima, would you mind getting this one as well?

Charlie:
Sending your hitman out?

Harry:
Yeah, he was good at it. He he did not miss. He did not miss. He always got them. But yeah, I never.

Charlie:
He's a professional.

Harry:
With flies I always try and get them out. I open the window and try to usher them out of the.

Charlie:
Yeah, Okay. So he's a real fly swatter.

Harry:
He's a fly swatter. Yeah. He's good.

Charlie:
Can't think of another context where you'd use that verb to swat.

Harry:
No. Yeah. Swat team.

Charlie:
How do you spell that? Is it the same as Swat?

Harry:
Yeah. SWAT no?

Charlie:
Yeah.

Harry:
It's a cool implement.

Charlie:
Can you swat anything anything other than a fly? Mosquitoes. Bees. Wasps. Moths. Spiders. Swat a spider! You can't swat a spider.

Harry:
I guess you could if it was, um, balancing on its. On its web, right?

Charlie:
Right. Yeah.

Harry:
They say it's to clap it between two hands. So you could. You could.

Charlie:
Oh, I didn't know that. I thought it was sort of hitting it with one hand.

Harry:
I guess it's hitting it with anything, right?

Charlie:
Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Harry:
Because there is a fly swatter is the tool you use to swat the fly.

Charlie:
Yes, yes, yes. I was thinking that because that's an extension basically of your elbow to hand isn't it.

Harry:
Abso-bloody-lutely.

Charlie:
Yeah. Uh, okay. So back to bite the bullet. You put your cat down.

Harry:
Yeah.

Charlie:
Metaphorically. Uh no, not metaphor. It's a it's a lie. Um, so why was that? That was painful for you. You're saying?

Harry:
Mm. Yeah. No one wants to put their pet down really. You know, it's something that you do to to alleviate its suffering, right?

Charlie:
Yes, yes.

Harry:
Um, so, I mean, I wasn't alleviating alleviating the cat suffering really. Uh, obviously it had an anger problem. Um, so I was, yeah, putting it out of its misery there. It wasn't going to have any more flare ups of, you know, anger management issues because, uh, she was going to die.

Charlie:
Yeah. Yeah. I would like to have a visual banner under us. Even in an audio only show saying he is joking. He is joking. Yes.

Harry:
Yeah, yeah. So I was putting it out. Yeah. I was, um, biting the bullet is doing something you don't want to do. So. Yeah, I didn't want to put my cat down. So I bit the bullet and I put the cat down.

Charlie:
Yeah. Very nice, very nice. I got, uh, I've got another example. I really didn't want to spend the weekend cleaning the garage, but I finally decided to bite the bullet and just do it. This is another example of a more day to day thing that you're putting off that you don't want to do. And here's a synonym: face the music. You just have to face the music and do it. As in, you have to face up to the problem and confront it and do it. Right?

Harry:
Absolutely. Yeah, that's nice.

Charlie:
And the phrase dates back to the days before modern anaesthesia during battlefield surgeries, um soldiers would literally have to bite down on a bullet to endure the pain without screaming. Maybe because the enemy are near. Don't scream. You'll give away our location.

Harry:
Wow, I like that.

Charlie:
Yeah.

Harry:
That's great.

Charlie:
That last bit is probably my imagination. But yeah, the idiom now means to face a painful or otherwise unpleasant situation that is unavoidable. So yes, whether you've got a bullet wound, um, or a cat to put down, you can say to bite the bullet.

Harry:
Mm. Nice. I wouldn't have chosen a bullet to bite on, though.

Charlie:
Very hard, yeah.

Harry:
Horrible to bite a bullet.

Charlie:
I know.

Harry:
It's like a battery or something. I mean.

Charlie:
Maybe.

Harry:
Would you bite, a cushion or something?

Charlie:
There are rubber bullets now, aren't there? That would be nice.

Harry:
Yeah, yeah.

Charlie:
Yeah.

Harry:
Maybe they were rubber bullets.

Charlie:
Probably not. Um, bite down on a tampon? Did you know tampons were, no tampons I think were very, very useful in, uh, on the battlefield, you'd shove a tampon into a bullet wound because it would absorb blood really well.

Harry:
Really?

Charlie:
Mhm.

Harry:
Wow. It would make sense.

Charlie:
I don't know when tampons became a thing, but they are used or have been used on the battlefield.

Harry:
That's amazing. I had a patient the other day who had a nosebleed and he put a tampon up his nose.

Charlie:
Ha, ha. Oh, no, I've done that.

Harry:
You've actually done that?

Charlie:
I've done that. A bit of a joke, but I had hay fever last year and I put a tampon up my nose because I had such a runny nose.

Harry:
How long did you keep it up there for?

Charlie:
Over half an hour.

Harry:
Wow.

Charlie:
Yeah.

Harry:
Just one nostril?

Charlie:
Just one nostril. Yeah.

Harry:
Did you just have one runny nostril?

Charlie:
Yeah. Yeah. The other one was blocked. Yeah.

Harry:
Right. With a tampon.

Charlie:
Yeah. Sexy. But yeah. Um. Okay. Should we move on to the next phrase?

Harry:
Yeah.

Charlie:
Okay. The next one is let the cat out of the bag. Um, so this is to reveal a secret. To let the cat out of the bag, to reveal a secret. Uh, you got an example for me, Harry?

Harry:
Yeah, a bit strange this one. When I tried to keep my crush a secret, Charlie let the cat out of the bag by shouting, hey, look who's blushing!

Charlie:
Look who's blushing! What? So I said it. I said the secret. And then I pointed at you, saying, hey, look who's blushing!

Harry:
So no, you let the cat out of the bag by shouting look who's blushing! So I guess what was happening was I we were there, we were just chatting. And then my crush came into the room and I started blushing.

Charlie:
Oh, okay.

Harry:
Because I like them. And I was a bit, I don't know, embarrassed to be there.

Charlie:
Yes.

Harry:
I don't know why I was embarrassed, but you were like, oh, hey, look who's blushing. Christina's just walked in the room.

Charlie:
Okay.

Harry:
And then that, that gave it away. You know that let the cat out of the bag.

Charlie:
Yeah. Christina. Lucky Christina, whoever that is.

Harry:
Yeah. I guess you could let the cat out of the bag by saying something else. Like Harry likes you. I don't know.

Charlie:
I mean, that would literally be opening the the bag and letting the cat jump out, right?

Harry:
Yeah.

Charlie:
But yeah, yeah, to let the cat out of out of the bag. Um, a similar phrase is spill the beans.

Harry:
Spill the beans. Yeah. And you can also say spill the tea, can't you?

Charlie:
Ah, okay.

Harry:
Spill the tea.

Charlie:
I think I've heard you say that before. Yeah. I don't think I use it, so spill the tea. I'm not. I'm not saying it's not a phrase. Don't worry, don't Google it. But, um. Yeah, you you use it in the same way. Spill the beans. Spill the tea. I can imagine that. Yeah.

Harry:
But this is more so sharing gossip or revealing interesting news. So the tea relates to it... Yeah.

Charlie:
Yeah. I mean fairly similar to uh, to let the cat out of the bag, for example. Um, I think I did it when I knew somebody was pregnant. And then we went and played golf and the guys were chatting and I said to the husband, oh, it'd be great for you that you can get picked up by her when she's not drinking. And everyone was like, what? Why? Why is she not drinking? I was like, um, uh um, bye. So I let the cat out the bag.

Harry:
He knew she was pregnant, right?

Charlie:
He knew. I knew. They didn't.

Harry:
Right. Okay.

Charlie:
The other two guys.

Harry:
Right. Yeah. Was he was he, like, still saving it up to reveal later?

Charlie:
Well, it was just before the 12 weeks. So you're not really meant to tell people until then, aren't you? Are you? Yeah. So I let the cat out of the bag. I'm not really good with that. I'm quite transparent. Like if Stacy's got a secret and then people are asking me, how are you? I will probably spill the beans or let the cat out the bag in some way. Accidentally.

Harry:
Good to know. Good to know.

Charlie:
Yeah. I'd be a terrible spy.

Harry:
Yeah, yeah, I'm just trying to think or friend.

Charlie:
Well, the thing is, if it's something that won't improve the conversation or won't sort of let my honest feelings out, then you're fine. So if it's a deep secret that won't, you know, create sort of interest.

Harry:
Yeah, yeah.

Charlie:
Then your secret's safe.

Harry:
Yeah. Sure, sure. No, I get that. Yeah. Fair enough. Yeah. I can't imagine you spilling the beans on something quite. You know, that would really hurt someone.

Charlie:
Yes.

Harry:
Or something like that. You're not. You're not vindictive piece of shit.

Charlie:
No. Yeah. If it was really interesting to the person that I'm talking to, there might be a risk. But if it was a secret thing, that's not really, you know, nice to talk about. That's locked in.

Harry:
Yeah. Yeah, exactly.

Charlie:
Yeah. Um, one final example. I accidentally let the cat out of the bag at Sarah's wedding about her being nine weeks pregnant. Oh, this is.

Harry:
Different example!

Charlie:
This is a different example. This is a different example. Same context. Yeah. I'll finish it, though, uh. At Sarah's wedding, about her being nine weeks pregnant when making small talk with her grandmother. Okay, uh, there you go. That would be quite a bad moment, wouldn't it? You know, she's knocked up already, kind of thing.

Harry:
Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Nice.

Charlie:
Um. Oh, before we move on, let's do the etymology of course, the etymology is the whole point. Um, so this saying let the cat out of the bag, which means to reveal a secret, likely comes from a common medieval market scam. Farmers would sell pigs to unsuspecting customers in a bag, but sometimes a less valuable cat would be placed inside the bag instead. If the cat jumped out when the bag was opened, the scam was revealed. So here's a pig mate. Enjoy the pig, and then meow, a cat comes out. Ah, that's not a pig. Your secret's revealed, you little naughty man.

Harry:
Were they like baby pigs?

Charlie:
Piglets? Yeah.

Harry:
They were pig, they were piglets, yeah?

Charlie:
Farmers would sell pigs to unsuspecting customers in a bag.

Harry:
It'd be pretty obvious if it was a, it was a cat, right?

Charlie:
It's got to be a huge cat, a Maine Coon? Yeah. Versus.

Harry:
Are you sure there's a pig in here? Yeah. Just go, just go. Yes.

Charlie:
A fully grown sow.

Harry:
Yeah.

Charlie:
Huge. Like what, 25 stone? Probably.

Harry:
Maybe they put loads of cats. Maybe they put like ten cats in there or something.

Charlie:
Bag of cats. Yeah.

Harry:
Yeah. A bag of cats.

Charlie:
What an idiot to fall for this scam.

Harry:
I know, what a dumb ass. You'd think they'd come up with a, um, another farmyard animal or, you know, large animal that's, uh. That weighs. Yeah, weighs a fair bit.

Charlie:
Well, if it's a farm.

Harry:
Or the shape of a pig.

Charlie:
If it's a farmyard animal, then it's probably worth something, right? So it's not really. I mean, cats, though they probably sell for more than pigs. No. Maybe not. Um, it depends what you want to do with them.

Harry:
Let's go through the options of what we can do with a cat.

Charlie:
Uh, so, cat.

Harry:
Top three uses of a cat.

Charlie:
Okay. A cat will help you, uh, rid the plague. And this comes to an interesting fact about how witches were associated with, uh, cats. So women in. During the plague, women who survived the plague tended to have cats because the cats would fight off the mice and the rats. And those were the rodents that carried the plague. So single, often women who are not married would get a cat, and that would keep them company. They would be middle aged. And then that would that turned into the stereotype of these people thinking that those women who avoided the plague were witches.

Harry:
Ah interesting.

Charlie:
And then that led to, ah, she's a witch because she has a cat. Black cat equals witch.

Harry:
Oh brilliant, brilliant, I like that, I like that.

Charlie:
Nice.

Harry:
And then they started putting their cats in bags.

Charlie:
Yeah. Oh, we could do something here. Yeah, we could put a cat in a bag and then sell it as a pig. Yeah.

Harry:
Yeah. So they don't kill us thinking we're witches.

Charlie:
Exactly. Yeah, yeah. Get rid of your cats before they burn you at the stake. Um. So. Yeah. Let the cat out of the bag, to reveal a secret. Um, shall we move on to the final one, or is that the end? That's the end, isn't it?

Harry:
Yeah. I think that's good.

Charlie:
Nice. Alright. Thank you, Harry. And thank you guys for listening to the end of this bitesize episode around the etymology of some interesting phrases. See you again soon on the British English podcast. Bye Bye.

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