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17 Phrases that are truly American

Kendra Y. Mims is a freelance writer and online content editor in the Chicagoland area. She holds a bachelor’s degree from Columbia College Chicago in journalism. Her passions include writing, reading, and traveling.

Coined in the U.S.

Do you ever wonder where popular phrases like "break a leg" or "jump the gun" came from? Here are 17 other phrases that originated in the U.S. and are still used today.

Apple pie and American flag

1

Ladies, if you can bake a good pie, then you know it's no easy feat. However, this phrase refers to the easiness of eating pie. Not creating one.

2

Though you may not find a smiling clam, this phrase is associated with clams being protected from predators during high tide. It is used to describe someone who is very joyful (think landing a new job or finding fabulous shoe deals).

3

Sometimes career or relationship plans go awry, and you have to dust yourself off and try again. This phrase has been used since World War II, with acceptance that a design has failed and a new one is needed.

4

This expression is used when someone makes the wrong assumption. It originated from hunting dogs that barked at the wrong tree to indicate where they thought their prey was hiding.

5

Trying to get the last word for an argument that has already been resolved is considered beating a dead horse. This phrase may have derived from horse racing where horses were sometimes beaten to move faster.

6

For a fashionista, having to choose between a bad hair day or wearing a tacky outfit describes being caught between a rock and a hard place. Its origin can be traced back to the U.S. Bankers' Panic of 1907.

7

This is used when someone is really close to a successful outcome but falls short. This phrase may have come from American fairgrounds of the mid-20thcentury, where cigars were prizes.

8

While we don't know the actual cost for an arm and a leg, chances are, it would not be cheap. This phrase describes something that is very expensive.

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