10 Phrases that Originated in the Middle Ages

Nicholas C. Rossis

Some of our most popular phrases have a long history, including some that go back to the Middle Ages. Here are 10 medieval phrases from theDictionary of Idioms and their Origins, as reported by Medievalists.

Quill pen | From the blog of Nicholas C. Rossis, author of science fiction, the Pearseus epic fantasy series and children's books

1. “You are the apple of my eye”

In early medieval England, the pupil of the eye was known as the apple (Old English æppel) since it was thought to be an apple-shaped solid. Since the delicate pupil of the eye is essential for vision, it is a part that is cherished and to be protected. Thus apple of the eye was used as a figure for a much-loved person or thing. Even King Alfred the Great used this phrase.

2. “Baker’s Dozen”

This phrase arose from a piece of medieval legislation, the Assize of Bread and Ale of 1262. Bakers of the period had a reputation for selling underweight…

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