January 29, 2020

Can’t Handle It

A successful effort is said to “pan out” because gold prospectors have long used a pan and water to wash out sand, dirt, and rocks when looking for gold ore, which sinks to the bottom of the pan and remains if the washing is done carefully.

The word “panic” comes from Pan, that horned and goat-legged Greek god. When not playing his Pan flute to nymphs in the forest, he commanded such a booming voice that his shout even terrified the giants during their mythical battle with the gods, causing them to “panic.”

Old flintlock muskets had small pans which held individual charges of gunpowder. A “flash in the pan” occurred when the gunpowder was ignited, but for whatever reason, no bullet was fired.