Carpets are a common fact of everyday life. Whilst we might not actively acknowledge the carpet at our feet, the fact is we walk on them practically everyday – unless we’ve gone back to nature and live in the woods. Or have wooden/stone/laminate flooring of course. Despite this, the fact remains that carpets are a relatively common fixture in our lives. But how else do carpets influence us?
Well, how about common sayings? There are a number of well-known phrases and idioms out there that are in our day-to-day lexicon that refer to carpets. Here are a few‚Ä¶
Roll out the red carpet
If you’ve got someone special coming to visit then you tend to ‚Äòpull out all the stops’ or ‚Äòroll out the red carpet’. It signifies that you’re going to extra lengths to provide something distinctive for the occasion‚Ä¶
This is a literal saying and commonly associated with the Academy Awards, the BAFTA’s et al. But its first literary reference is attributed to the Greek tragedian, Aeschylus, in 458 BC, where he referred to a ‚Äòcrimson path’ being spread before a house in one of his plays.
So it seems red carpets have been in vogue for quite some time. However the phrase itself is believed to have first stemmed from passengers alighting the famous ‚Äò20th Century Limited’ passenger train operated by New York Central Railroad between 1902 and 1967. The operator directed people to board the train by laying out crimson carpets, hence the term ‚Äòred carpet treatment’. Pretty special.
As snug as a bug in a rug
Now this one might seem quite straightforward and probably based off a childish saying literally referring to an insect nestled comfortably inside a rug. However, the saying originated in 1769 (in print at least), with snug and bug originating from different meanings to their current connotations.
Snug apparently referred specifically to ships and meant ‚Äòneat; trim; well prepared’ in 1595. By 1630 however, it had modified slightly to its current form, which is comfortable and cosy.
A bug was originally a name for a ghost or ghoul, but for reasons unknown, had changed to mean beetle or grub by 1642.
The first known saying of the entire phrase was in work by David Garrick in 1769, where he referenced:
“If she [a rich widow] has the mopus’s [coins or money], I’ll have her, as snug as a bug in a rug.”
The term rug is apparently Tudor and initially referred to blankets on the bed, which were effectively ‚Äòrags’. These ‚Äòrags’ were then put in front of the fire to become ‚Äòhearth-rugs’. The first referenced ‚Äòbug in a rug’ was probably indicating crickets or some such insects, which are attracted to the heat. One can imagine the sight of crickets warming themselves by the fire, led to the observation‚Ä¶look at that bug all snug in that rug. And then later down the pub, I was as ‚Äòsnug as a bug in a rug’. Well, I like to think so anyway.
Sweep under the carpet
This relates to hiding something from view that you don’t want others to see‚Ä¶probably began by a lazy cleaner who just swept a bit of dirt under the carpet to make the place look a bit tidier. However, it’s since broadened in its meaning to encompass all things relating to a cover up where something is conveniently ‚Äòforgotten about’ rather than dealt with.
So that’s just three examples. Can anyone think of any others? Let us know in the comments‚Ä¶