Phrases, Clichés, Expressions & Sayings
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Jig is up, the
Meaning: You are caught, you are discovered, the deception is uncovered.
Example: The jig is up for Lisa. Her boss caught her doing work on company time instead of browsing
Origin: "Jig" is defined as a trick or game. Hence the "jig is up" literally means the trick is over.

Alternative: Webster's gives the origin of the word "jig" as a transliteration of an Old French word defined as "frolic" (c. 17th-18th century). Hence, "jig" is referred to as a dance, not a game. In the 18th century British Navy, the captain of the ship held the power of life or death over the crew of his ship. For certain offenses he could impose the death penalty. That penalty was carried out as follows: a line was thrown over the lowest yardarm, tied 'round the offender's neck. No blindfold, no feet or hands tied. At the command "take him up" two or three crewmen hoisted the man up and he writhed, jerked and twitched as he strangled to death. His feet and legs especially jumped about. He literally danced at the end of the rope. The crew of the ship were interested but not all were assembled as witnesses. Some of the crew had to remain on station to sail the ship. The word was passed: “the jig is up”. All hands were thus informed that the sentence had been carried out. Thanks to Wilbur Johnson, Redwood City, California.


Johnny on the spot
Meaning: An unusually alert fellow who is capable of decisive action, seizing an opportunity.
Origin: The phrase "Johnny On The Spot" has been around since about 1895. The name John and its relatives (Johnny, Jack, Jacques) turn up in many phrases to mean an unspecified male, as in John Doe. 'Johnnie' meant fellow, chap in English by the 17th century and a man-about-town in the 1880s. 'Johnny-Come-Lately' was in use in America by the 1830s. 'Johnny-on-the-spot' by the 1890s and 'stage-door Johnny' by 1912. From "John and Mary: Common First Names," a chapter in "Listening to America" by Stuart Berg Flexner (Simon and Schuster, New York, 1982). Also 'Johnny-on-the-job.' 1896 Ade 'Artie' 19: She was settin' over in the corner, and a Johnny-on-the-spot, with a big badge, marked 'Committee,' was tryin' to keep cases on her. Ibid. 63. I'll be Johnny-on-the-spot to see that everything's on the level.' Thanks to the "Random House Historical Dictionary of American Slang, Volume 1, H-O" by J.E. Lighter, Random House, New York, 1994.


Jump on the bandwagon
Meaning: To become part of the newest activity because many other people are.
Example: Barry's boss has nothing to say (or ad) - unless his boss says anything and then he quickly jumps on the badwagon and spreads the good news to everyone else.
Origin: Many years ago candidates for political offices in the United States often rode through town in horse-drawn wagons on which a band was playing music to attract a crowd. If the candidate was popular, people would jump up onto his bandwagon to show their support. Today we say that people who are getting involved in any activity that looks like it’s going to succeed are "jumping on the bandwagon."


Just deserts
Meaning: Things deserved.
Example: Falsely accused of murdering a classmate in 1959, Steven Truscott got his just deserts in 2008, when the government of Ontario awarded him $6.50 million in compensation.
Origin: Deserts, in the sense of 'things deserved', has been used in English since the 13th century. In 'Warning Faire Women' (1599): "Upon a pillory - that al the world may see, A just desert for such impiety." This phrase is often misinterpreted more for its spelling than its origin. 'Desert' nowadays is often thought of in the sense of desolate and arid regions of land. 'Deserts' as used to mean 'that which is deserved' is now largely limited to this single phrase. 'Desserts' (the last or sweet course of a meal) is widely used today, and is pronounced the same way as the deserts in 'just deserts'. This expression might be more intuitive if thought of as 'what you justly deserve'.

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