Maybe you've earned some "brownie points" at work by getting in early or found yourself "caught between a rock and a hard place" when two friends row?
But most of us have no idea where these everyday sayings sprung from - which is where Caroline Taggart's new book As Right As Rain, comes in very handy.
Here, she lifts the lid on some of our most well-loved expressions:
GOODY TWO SHOES: Used to describe a person who is exceptionally well behaved, this expression originated in 1765 in the story of an orphan, Margery Meanwell, who was so poor she had only one pair of shoes. On receiving a second pair from a gentleman, she ran around telling everyone that she now had two shoes. It wasn't until the 19th century that the phrase began to have a smug meaning.
BROWNIE POINTS: If you've misbehaved, then earning a few of these bonus points might just get you out of trouble. The saying is thought to come from the U.S. where brownies are a hugely popular type of chocolate cake. And a brownie is also a benevolent elf or pixie. In an 1951 article in the Los Angeles Times, Marvin Miles explained husbands can use the brownie point system to rate whether he is in his wife's good or bad books.
BIG CHEESE: This has its roots in the Persian or Hindustani word "chiz" which means "thing". The term "the real chiz" - meaning "the real deal" - was used widely by English speakers in India during the days of the Raj. At that time in Britain, people were fond of saying "that's the Stilton" to mean the same thing, and in time the two merged.
A BED OF ROSES: Ah, an idyllic life
TO GO BERSERK: We've all been driven to this point, probably more than once. But what does "berserk" mean exactly? Berserkers were wild Norse warriors infamous for their brute strength and courage. Their frenzied fighting style was known as "the Berserker rage". The word may well stem from "bare sark", which was used to describe the warrior fighting in his "bare shirt". It was in the 1940s in America where the phrase began to mean "crackpot behaviour".
As Right As Rain by Caroline Taggart is published by Michael O'Mara at £12.99.
by Nicole Pointer