Why do we say "break a leg" to wish actors good luck?

The general consensus is that the phrase originated hundreds of years ago. Theater folk were suspicious and superstitious types. Because their work as actors was to "practice the art of lying," they thought that if they wished a fellow actor good luck, the opposite would happen. Consequently, we say the reverse. The phrase "break a leg" is rumored to have begun because someone did just that after being wished good luck. Some have suggested that the practice came from "the evil eye," an eastern European idea that cautioned never to tempt fate by wishing for good luck.

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How did the custom of the handshake originate?

This custom started in medieval times. The world was an unsavory place back then, and people often concealed weapons in their hands. The handshake was a way of affirming that neither you nor the person you were greeting was carrying anything intended to harm. Over time, it evolved into a polite greeting.

Which U.S. president has received the greatest number of popular votes in the past?

That distinction goes to Barack Obama who received 66.9 million votes in the 2008 election. Next in line is George W. Bush. In 2004, he won a second term with 62 million votes. Third in line is Ronald Reagan. In 1984, he won a second term with 54.5 million votes.

What do A.M. and P.M. stand for?

They stand for ante meridiem (before noon) and post meridiem (after noon).

What is rime ice?

Rime ice is essentially frozen fog. Super-cooled water droplets which are suspended in clouds when temperatures dip below freezing, will freeze instantly when they contact anything solid, such as a building, road sign, etc. The freezing droplets may form delicate, feather-like structures that coat the object in white.

Is gelatin derived from animals?

Gelatin is one of the more common proteins, but it cannot be prepared from animal horns, hooves, lungs, muscle tissue, or blood. It is derived from collagen, which is the primary constituent of a white, fibrous connective tissue occurring in animals (in the form of cartilage, sinews, skin, and bone protein). Upon hydrolysis, collagen yields many products, including gelatin.

Where does the expression "red herring" come from?

This expression, meaning a false clue, first popped up in British foxhunting circles. Smoked and salted herrings turn bright red in the curing process and emit a pungent, fishy smell. Although the term "red herring" had been around since 1420 to describe the smoked version of the fish, it was first used to mean a distraction in a British gentlemen's magazine published in 1686. The article touted an effective way to prolong a fox hunt: Drag a dead cat across the trail, masking the fox's scent and confusing the hounds. The author suggested using a red herring if no cats were available. Nearly 200 years later, in 1884, the term was used more precisely to mean a false clue.

What does it mean to "pull out all the stops"?

This phrase means to put all one's efforts and energies into something in order to have it succeed. It originally referred to an organ player, who must manipulate the numerous "stops" of the instrument to achieve the desired musical effect, usually involving both hands, both feet, and several keyboards. If all the stops were pulled out on many traditional organs, the volume would be intolerable.

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