So, What’s the Catch?

Have you ever thought about where common idioms come from: it’s raining cats and dogs, see the light, under the weather, etc.?

We were sitting at the dinner table this week when my oldest son ask, “What does ‘what’s the catch’ mean?” My younger son chimed in, “Yea, what does it mean? It doesn’t make any sense!” They both giggled thinking that the saying sounded silly. My husband and I both looked at each other with a “you got this?” expression and then took turns providing what we went on to describe what it meant as best we could. “It means something is too good to be true. Someone says something’s for free, but what they don’t tell you is you’ll have to sit through a presentation to get the free thing,” I shared. “It means you’re not getting the whole picture. There’s more to it than meets the eye. If something sounds like it’s too good a deal, say someone offering you money for nothing, you would probably ask, “What’s the catch?,” my husband replied.

Our boys came up with their own interpretations. “So, if someone offered me gold, I should know there’s probably something they want from me,” said my oldest. “Or if they offer me (play) cars, there might be something they want for it,” said my youngest. “You’re getting the idea,” I said.

My sons asked where the saying came from. “No idea,” my husband and I replied. Funny how we use phrases without putting too much thought into where they come from. It forced us to think about how language has changed over time, even during my lifetime. I shared that when I was young phrases like “LOL” or “hashtag” weren’t used, and people would have looked at me  with a curious expression if I said them as recently as a decade or so earlier. We talked about how hundreds of years ago people talked in ways that would be unrecognizable to us today (using words such as “thee” and “thou”). My sons thought that was hilarious.

After giggling for a few minutes, I attempted to get serious and asked, “So, if that’s the way the ball bounces, what’s the catch?” Now all of us were laughing again. “And if  I’m under the weather, I hope it’s not raining cats and dogs,” my son added with a smile. While I may not know the origin of many idioms, they quite useful when trying to explain something more simply, plus they can be good for a laugh…especially when we think how much our language has changed over time and all the silly things we still say quite seriously.

What idioms do you often use? Are there any that are your favorites? Or ones your child find amusing?

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