(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:
- What is said upon finding your target has been marked out.
- Derived from an X on pirate treasure maps.
- 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.