The beginning of a expression can color your audience’s perception of that use. Beware the potential pitfalls behind these typical idiomatic expressions.

You are watching: Cross my heart hope to die origin

by Laura Hale BrockwayAug. 15, 2018

history is about an ext than just dates and also places—it’s storytelling in ~ its finest.

if visiting Boston and also the city’s historical sites this summer, i was captivated through the stories and also storytellers ns met there. Tied closely to the history of Plymouth Rock, the flexibility Trail, and the Boston Tea Party is the language supplied to call those stories. As it transforms out, the language has a history of the own.

plenty of of our daily idioms and also expressions have actually dark beginnings that date back to early american times. Consider the background of these terms the following time you usage them.

1. “Riot act”

have you ever remained in so much trouble that someone “read friend the lytic act”?

In 18th-century England, the lytic Act to be a regulation used to manage unruly crowds. If a magistrate determined that a group of 12 or an ext people created a “riotous and tumultuous assembly,” the magistrate would check out them the lytic Act. If the group did no disperse within an hour of the reading, they might be arrested.

(Source: The expression Finder)

2. “Raise your appropriate hand”

ever wonder why witnesses space asked to raise their appropriate hands before they testify? This exercise dates back to 17th-century England as soon as criminals were regularly branded ~ above the inside of their appropriate hands come permanently mark the crime they had committed. “T” to be for theft. “M” for murder. “F” because that felon.

By increasing their right hand if they appeared in court again, the judge and jury would recognize what crime the witnesses had actually previously committed.

(Source: Proceedings of the Old Bailey)

3. “Cross my heart, hope to die, pole a needle in my eye”

Though nobody is particular exactly where this expression come from, many think it originated from periods of plague and contagion. Century ago, contagious diseases often swept through areas quickly, sickening and killing human being en masse.

come contain and treat the disease, those who died of epidemic were often hidden in mass tombs or were hidden quickly ~ death. This sometimes resulted in an unconscious or comatose patient being mistakenly pronounced dead and also buried. To avoid this, caregivers were said to stick a needle in the eye that the patience to ensure his or her death.

to say “cross my heart, hope to die, rod a needle in my eye” was to look for assurance the you would certainly not be hidden alive.

4. Conserved by the bell.

Another way to protect against being hidden alive to be to connect a bell come the external of her coffin that can be rung from within the coffin. If you wake up up if interred, you simply had actually to pull the rope to be “saved through the bell.”

several designs for these “safety coffins” were patented in the U.S. In the 19th century. However, there are no credible referrals of anyone making use of these coffins or being conserved by them.

The much more likely origin of the idiom comes from boxing. A boxer who is under for a count of 10 seconds have the right to be saved from defeat if the bell rings and marks the end of a round before the 10-second countdown is over.

(Source: The expression Finder)

How about it PR Daily readers? do you have any idioms come share?

Laura Hale Brockway is one Austin-based writer and also editor, and a regular contributor come PR Daily. Read an ext of her short articles at

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anonymous says: October 31, 2020 at 2:23 to be

There’s no riot there is no the require to attract attention to the police. Nobody chooses come say expect to dice as a call to no be hidden alive. Third, you can not brand letter on her hand that will feed friend & others, no one wants to be hurt for you to brand them together something most who room guilty commit an ext crimes come blame the innocent. Lastly, a bell never ever saved a life, specifically when many are ton deaf come the dials that resurrection.

David says: November 26, 2020 in ~ 11:21 pm

Didnt they provided to hang murderers or even horse thieves? It’s hard to imagine that they’d brand people

Nolan says: April 6, 2021 in ~ 6:43 afternoon

I flourished up listening this phrase often. However, an initial time i heard “no crosses count?!” remained in my 20’s native a Jewish girl. It to be interesting, but I go not desire to repeat that, as I am a Catholic… the cross do indeed count for us lol. I wonder if there is part linguistic history there. Possibly non-Christians walk not want to say overcome my heart to swear, for this reason they started saying no the cross count? I would love come learn much more about this.

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Jodi Junkins Shadle says: July 12, 2021 at 2:17 pm

They did without doubt brand world convicted of specific crimes. In enhancement to those listed in the article, they provided P for pirate.In Pirates the the Caribbean, the Admiral transforms Jack Sparrow’s hand over and also there’s a ns branded top top his wrist. The Admiral instantly knows he’s to be convicted the piracy previously.