In case you didn't read it before or are new to my blog (Welcome!) I'm researching the origins of idioms for my A-Z challenge - usually I'll choose one or two words that stick out because I'm not 100% on what they mean, or I'm wondering where the heck they came up with that saying.
My idioms for the letter A are...
He has an ax to grind.
Meaning: something to gain for yourself for a selfish reason; flattery used to get a favor from another person.
Origin: In the early 1800s a newspaper story was written by a man who said that when he was a boy, a man used flattery to trick him into sharpening the man's ax. The boy turned the heavy grindstone while the man held his ax against it, because the man said the boy was a great ax grinder, smart and strong. The man didn't pay the boy or even thank him. Instead, he scolded him for wasting time and being late for school. After that, people started using the expression "have an ax to grind" when referring to anyone who was seeking a particular goal solely for himself by flattering or tricking another person. Sometimes people say that they don't have an ax to grind to show that they are honest and aren't trying to trick you into doing anything for them.
She's an albatross around my neck.
Meaning: a very difficult burden that you can't get rid of or a reminder of something you did wrong.
Origin: In 1798 Samuel Taylor Coleridge wrote his most famous poem "The Rime of the Ancient Mariner." In the poem a young sailor shoots a large seabird called an albatross. In those days that was considered very unlucky. Sure enough, many misfortunes happen to the ship, and the crew blames the young sailor, hanging the dead bird around his neck.
Source: Scholastic Dictionary of Idioms by Marvin Terban.