Wednesday, April 25, 2012

W - Washing my hands of, Wears his heart on his sleeve, Wet behind the ears.

Today's idioms are brought to you by the letter "W".

1.  I’m tired of arguing with Jocelyn over our science project; I’m washing my hands of the whole thing.

Meaning: to withdraw or end one’s association or responsibility for something.

Origin: The expression comes from the Bible, from the 27th Chapter of the Gospel of Matthew:

The governor (Pontius Pilate, a Roman governor in Judea) again said to them, "Which of the two do you want me to release for you?" And they said, "Barabbas." Pilate said to them, "Then what shall I do with Jesus who is called Christ?" They all said, "Let him be crucified." And he said, "Why, what evil has he done?" But they shouted all the more, "Let him be crucified." So when Pilate saw that he was gaining nothing, but rather that a riot was beginning, he took water and washed his hands before the crowd, saying, "I am innocent of this man's blood; see to it yourselves."

When you “wash your hands of something,” you’re not actually at a sink with soap and water. You’re just saying that it’s not your responsibility or you don’t want to be involved further.

2.  Everyone in school knows Mark is in love with Andrea, because he wears his heart on his sleeve.

Meaning: to show one’s emotions and feelings openly.

Origin: William Shakespeare used this in Othello around 1600. In those days, it was the custom for a young lady to tie a ribbon around the arm of her boyfriend. The boy then wore the favor on his sleeve, one of the most visible parts of his clothing, to display the feelings of his heart for all the world to see. Today, the feelings that you reveal by “wearing your heart on your sleeve” are often of love, but could be other emotions, too.

3.  Eliza wouldn’t promote Elsa to manager because she was still too wet behind the ears.

Meaning: young, inexperienced, and immature.

Origin: when a baby colt or calf is first born, it’s wet all over with birth fluid. It quickly starts to dry, but the little indentation behind its ears stays wet the longest. Farmers always knew this, but some word experts think that in the early 20th century, officers in the American armed forces began saying this barnyard expression to describe new solders who still needed their mamas to wash them.


  1. Once again I am wiser for visiting your blog. "Wet behind the ears" is my fun fact for the day.

  2. Aww, I love how "wears his heart on his sleeve" came about. :)

  3. Loved the Elizabethan reference. I never knew that. Thanks again for such an interesting post.

  4. I didn't mention it earlier in the week, but I really thought you were going to do "weak at the knees."

  5. I have at one time or another used all of these expressions. Glad to know where they hail from. Thanks Jaycee!

  6. I knew about the washing your hands one!

  7. I love "wet behind the ears." :)

  8. I love "wet behind the ears" too. Except when I'm working on a project with them.

    Happy A to Z-ing!