Another week has flown by! A rather wet week to be sure, but a week none the less. I guess that means we are on to U! I don’t think there are all that many clichés that start with U, but we shall see what we can find…..
under your hat: keep it secret. There was never anything to hide under one’s hat, although stories do abound about keeping gold or even spare arrow strings under an archer’s hat. Truly it simply means to keep information in your head, and share only as needed. The phrase originated in the nineteenth century, most likely in Britain.
Thus, oh friendly readers, we see how every man in the world has his own private griefs and business… You and your wife have pressed the same pillow for forty years and fancy yourselves united. Psha, does she cry out when you have the gout, or do you lie awake when she has the toothache? … Ah, sir – a distinct universe walks about under your hat and under mine.
The History of Pendennis, William Makepeace Thackeray, 1848
up the apples and pears: up the stairs. Another fun example of cockney rhyming. This type of slang is made when words are replaced by any words or phrases they rhyme with, although no relationship other than the rhyme is requires. Whether this slang is meant to exclude outsiders, or simply be creative is unknown.
the usual suspects: most likely criminals in the area to have committed a crime, although whether they actually did it is of little consequence. This one has a clear history: the film Casablanca, 1942. Captain Louis Renault makes the statement after the main character Rick Blaine shot a Nazi, and the Captain tells the investigating police to “round up the usual suspects” instead of turning in Rick.