My blogging friend Chloe Banks gave me the idea for this exciting new feature when she commented on the phrase ‘a kettle of fish’, which sounds odd to modern ears when you think about it. For some years I’ve been exchanging tales about the origins of old phrases and sayings with another friend across the seas, and I thought it was time to share them with the world.
Today’s saying is Grind to a Halt.
Like most of the explanations I’m providing, this comes from a documentary I saw some time back. In days of yore when mills provided the flour for bread making, the wheat was ground between two huge, rotating heavy stone discs. Depending on how coarse or fine you wanted the flour to be, you could adjust the gap between the two discs accordingly. But you couldn’t allow the discs to meet or the friction would be too great for the waterwheel, or whatever source of power it was, to keep them moving – and they would grind to a halt.