Origins of Sayings

We return yet again to the days of Nelson for our latest saying.

The Days of Nelson

During the wars with France, when two ships came within sight of one another they would run up their nation’s flag to identify whether they were friend or foe. Unprincipled enemy captains skulking the seven seas in fear of the all-conquering Royal Navy would sometimes run up the flag of a friendly or neutral country until they got within broadside range, upon which they would take the false flag down and run up their real one and also run out their guns, hoping to get the jump on the gallant Brits. Raising the national flag was known as ‘running up the colours’; thus, sneaky Johnny Foreigner was, in the immortal words of Cindi Lauper, showing his true colours.


About ramblesofawriter

Writer, thinker, tea drinker.
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3 Responses to Origins of Sayings

  1. Chloe says:

    Where would our language be without a naval past?!

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