Mark Twain

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Thursday, April 28, 2011

X - is for the spot - X marks it.

(Posted on May 1 for April 28, 2011 - A to Z)


So the letter X was a bit of a challenge. For days all I could think of was "X marks the spot". I resisted but finally decided, why not!!


I googled "X Marks the Spot" and discovered a meaning and origin I never knew for this phrase. When I used this phrase, I always thought a pirate map with a big X marking the location of treasure. And that is one of its meanings. But it has a more dismal origin.

According to online Urban Dictionary it says:
  1. What is said upon finding your target has been marked out.
  2. Derived from an X on pirate treasure maps.
  3. The phrase was put into common usage by the British army, who performed executions by marking a piece of paper with a black X and positioning it on the heart of someone sentenced to death. The acting officer would say "X marks the spot" and the firing squad would shoot the X.
Yikes! I don't know about you, but #3 gave me pause. A colorful cartoony pirate map always came to mind when I said those words. Not now.

Doesn't it make you wonder the origins of other commonly used phrases? Curiosity might make you check, but a darker discovery might make it far less fun.


2 comments:

  1. I may use that expression a lot less now that I know its origins.

    ReplyDelete
  2. That is a dark discovery! Makes me glad it isn't a phrase I use but I bet it pops into my head now because I was so surprised at that meaning.

    ReplyDelete

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