20 Surprising Meanings Behind Everyday Expressions



Show Your True Colors

If you show your true colors to someone, then you’re being your true self and not hiding anything. You are letting them see your character for what it is. The history of this expression has to do with ships and their identifying colors — flags that represented where they were from. When approached by pirates who would sail with deceiving flags from other countries, the suspecting sailors might ask them to show their true colors to identify them.

Tighten Your Belt

To tighten your belt means to cut corners to save money, usually because we have less money coming in. This expression dates back to the depression when people had less money, therefore less food. This led to weight loss, hence the need to tighten their belts to keep their pants from falling down.

Straight From The Horse’s Mouth

If you’ve heard something straight from the horse’s mouth, then you’ve heard the truth about something from a very reliable source, not hearsay. The saying dates back to the 1920’s and comes from looking into a horse’s mouth. You can determine the age of a horse by looking at the size and shape of his teeth. And you can be certain about these because they came straight from the horse’s mouth!

Mind Your P’s And Q’s

You’re on the right track if you’re minding your P’s and Q’s because that means you’re minding your manners. The history supposedly goes back to the old English pubs where you would keep track of the number of pints (P’s) and quarts (Q’s) on a blackboard. To mind your P’s and Q’s meant to keep track and pay up when it was time.