Farm-Bred Phrases Part 2

Farmers have their own lingo that has spread to everyday use. Last week we wrote about some popular farm phrases but there are quite a few that got left off the list. Here’s a second look at nine more popular idioms that have started on the farm taken root in pop culture.

Grab the Bull by the Horns

This idiom means to confront a challenging problem head-on and to deal with it directly. It’s rooted either in bullfighting or the American Wild West. Cowboys and ranchers wrestled steers to the ground by grabbing their horns. Steer wrestling continues to be a popular event in rodeos across the country.

Shoot the Breeze

If you’re shooting the breeze or throwing the bull with someone you’re probably just talking nonsense and conversing aimlessly. While the origins of this idiom are unclear, the word breeze means rumors.

Throw the Bull

Very similar to shooting the breeze, throwing the bull is a variation of talking bullsh**, speaking lies and empty words.

Bet the Farm

To bet the farm is to be so certain of an outcome that you are willing to risk everything. It comes from gambling culture when someone puts everything they own on the table. Betting your boots or betting your britches are similar ways to say without a doubt and express confidence in your success.

Bought the Farm

People lightheartedly refer to someone’s death with this phrase. Early uses of this phrase referenced death or accidents connected to US military service. One idea is that when a jet or airplane crashes, the farmer can sue the government for compensation. A second explanation for the origins of this idiom connects to the payout the family of a fallen serviceman would receive. The sum was typically large enough to pay off the family mortgage.

Plant a Seed

When you plant a seed you will say or do something that will lead to future growth. This phrase is often used when someone plants a thought or idea that will develop into a particular result. The origins of this idiom come from a plant’s growth cycle that starts with planting a seed.

Takes Root

When something becomes established and begins to have an affect, it takes root. Again, this idiom comes from plant growth.

Put a Boot up Your A**

If someone puts a boot up your a** they are either trying to increase your motivation or punish you. It comes from the phrase “a kick in the pants” that is usually a mild way to correct someone’s behavior. People would be wearing boots when threatening to give someone a kick in the pants, which lead to the phrase “put a boot up your a**.”

The Last Straw

The last straw is the final insult or action that puts you over the edge or prompts a response. It often causes everything to fall apart because you can’t handle the current situation any longer. It comes from the phrase “the last straw that broke the camels back,” which comes from an old English proverb. Similar phrases have been used with different suffering animals including birds, donkeys horses, and elephants.

Even with an evolving slang vocabulary, farm phrases continue to be an important part of our everyday speech. You can bet the farm that we haven’t covered all the farm-related idioms. Let us know what your favorite farm phrases are so we can add them to our list.