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Can someone tell me where this came from?

I have always been really curious about how words and sayings got started. Like who decides what something is going to be called. I get that most of the English language comes from words in other languages, but what I want to find out is who decides in any language what something will be called. Like who decided a chair would be called a chair in any language, or a tree? Ok what I am wanting to know now is if anyone knows where the saying "3 sheets to the wind" started to describe a drunk person. And what does if have to do with a drunk person? Anyone? Any ideas?


Asked by TeriMelisa at 9:20 AM on Jul. 19, 2009 in Just for Fun

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This question is closed.
Answers (10)
  • You know what I also wonder is who was the first person to eat certain foods? There are some foods out there that look absolutely dreadful and down right gross. Who was the first person out there to say "hmmm, I wonder if that will taste good?". I would just be so scared that what I ate would make me sick or worse something that I ate could very well kill my ass. I guess hunger will make you do wacky things. I also wonder if all of the friends of that said person who is eating something for the very first time stand around to see the reaction from him/her to see if it's good or not or wait around his hut or home to see if he dropped dead from eating something poisonous.

    "Girl did Foo-Foo die last night after eating that wacky fruit" "Naw girl as a matter of fact I was just on my way to pick some of that wacky fruit, the kids have been getting bored with bananas" LOL

    Answer by Ladybugkisses76 at 9:41 AM on Jul. 19, 2009

  • Here is what I found by googling, which is not what I thought it would be:

    "The old Dutch-style windmill on Nantucket Island in Massachusetts, which is still grinding cornmeal for the tourists, has four wooden vanes to which are attached four sails -- or more properly, sheets. If the miller leaves one off, only three are presented to the wind.

    The mechanism is then severely out of balance, and in a fresh breeze the entire structure of the mill goes into a violent and potentially destructive shudder, evoking the image of a staggering drunk."

    Answer by Bmat at 9:27 AM on Jul. 19, 2009

  • Thanks

    Answer by TeriMelisa at 9:28 AM on Jul. 19, 2009

  • So cool! Thanks Bmat - my husband is Dutch, I'm gonna try to impress him later on at dinner with that one cuz I know he hasn't a clue from where that saying originated and why. Or, maybe I'll wait and bring it up on our drive to Cape Cod Massachusetts next month.


    Answer by Ladybugkisses76 at 9:31 AM on Jul. 19, 2009

  • (You're welcome) I kept looking and found this answer, which is closer to what I thought it would be:

    "Taken from sailing a square-rigged sailboat; square sails had four sheets (the ropes attached to the corners of the sail) to control them. If one or even two sheets went "to the wind" (meaning flapping in the breeze and hard to retrieve) the boat was still quasi-controllable. However, if a third sheet was lost to the wind, you had no way to fill your sail and were essentially out of control."

    Answer by Bmat at 9:32 AM on Jul. 19, 2009

  • i am totally like you when it comes to word roots. when i bring something like this up people just think ive been smoking a doob...but its not just really curious about how certain words and phrases came to be.

    Answer by Anonymous at 9:50 AM on Jul. 19, 2009

  • I was wondering the same thing.

    Answer by momofonewntmore at 10:22 AM on Jul. 19, 2009

  • Yeah there are so many other phrases that I dont understand where they originate from. Also, like who decided that eggs were good to eat? LOL, ooh look what just dropped out of that chicken's butt, I think i'll try frying that up and eating it with some toast and hash browns!

    Answer by Anonymous at 10:49 AM on Jul. 19, 2009

  •  The word COP  referring of course to policemen comes from the police in England were called Constables. While on Patrol(like a beat in America) It became Constable On Patrol...COP.       TIPS(like a waitress) comes from To Insure Proper Service. I know so many of these acronymsit's nut's. But I love useless information.


    Answer by jblueeyes228 at 11:20 AM on Jul. 19, 2009

  • I've always wondered the origins of curse words. Most seem to start as general terms that somehow developed into vulgarity.
    I get lost on a lot of those sayings, too. Like "he's a little wet behind the ears". What?! I feel stupid when I don't catch on to these sayings, but it's not like people use them a lot around me.

    Answer by aluvk4evr at 11:32 AM on Jul. 19, 2009