Mark Twain

"Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do ...
Explore. Dream. Discover." Mark Twain

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.


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

  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.


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