Have you ever had a moment so overwhelming and unbelievable that you thought, “I’m at my wits end!”? You might be surprised to know that this phrase actually originates from the Bible in Psalm 107, where King David gives thanks to the Lord for all he's done for his people, despite their misgivings.
In 2011, a Gallup poll found that over 90 percent of Americans believe in God, while a Pew Research Center survey found that on average Americans correctly answered 16 out of 32, or 50 percent, of religious knowledge-related questions.
With this data in mind, it's understandable that many of us are unaware of the religious ties that phrases we use and hear in our everyday lives have. These are just a few of those phrases, and their religious origins.
A drop in the bucket
This phrase is an idiom commonly heard when speaking about a very small piece of something much larger. For instance, you might hear a friend say, “We’ve saved $10,000 for our first home, but that’s really just a drop in the bucket.”
Phrases.org describes the origins of "a drop in the bucket" as coming from the Bible, citing the verse Isaiah 40:15, “Behold, the nations are as a drop of a bucket, and are counted as the small dust of the balance: behold, he taketh up the isles as a very little thing.”
You may have heard this phrase when being invited to dinner by a friend or family member, and interpreted “Come break bread with me!” as “come eat delicious food and share your company with me.”
According to the King James Bible online, this phrase is a reference to a conversation during the Last Supper, meaning “to be grateful for all that Jesus provided."
Matthew 26:26 says, “And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and blessed it, and brake it, and gave it to the disciples, and said, Take, eat; this is my body.”
This phrase is often used in the realm of football, when a quarterback has one last play, or one last incredible pass to win the game. You’ll often hear sports commentators exclaim, “Here’s the Hail Mary pass! This could be it!”
About Sports defines the Hail Mary pass as “an offensive play where the quarterback throws the ball up in the air without really targeting any particular receiver, hoping someone on his team catches it.”
According to Catholic Planet, the Hail Mary is “a prayer for the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary, mother of Jesus Christ.” The Hail Mary prayer is often assigned to Catholics as penance after confession, to help atone for sins they’ve committed.
No rest for the wicked
This phrase is particularly popular in today’s modern language. We hear it in songs, like Cage the Elephant’s “Ain’t No Rest for the Wicked,” and in everyday conversations.
It has also appeared periodically throughout the 20th century, seen in 1933’s Little Orphan Annie comic strip titled "No Rest for the Wicked." Essentially, the phrase means those who do wicked things will never rest; they will continually be punished.
Bite the dust
You may be thinking of the Queen song "Another one Bites the Dust" after reading that phrase, and for good reason. The song was a worldwide hit and Queen’s best-selling single, according to Answers.com.
The phrase is commonly used to describe when someone passes away, and has been heard in countless cowboy films, popular songs and everyday conversations.
One might expect the origins of this phrase to come from old Western flicks, but this is not the case. The phrase was originally coined in the Bible as "lick the dust," described in Psalms 72, “They that dwell in the wilderness shall bow before him and his enemies shall lick the dust.”