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March 5, 2020

Ouch!

Many everyday expressions derive from cruel practices of centuries past. Among them:


To “beat the devil out of” (and it’s apparent derivative “beat the hell out of”) comes from old Christian notions that naughty children were possessed with evil/satanic spirits which had to be driven out by beatings.


SOURCE: Pinker, Steven. The Better Angels of Our Nature, Why Violence Has Declined, New York, Penguin, 2011. (page 432)


“Holding his feet to the fire” wasn’t just psychological pressure in the old days, but a much more unpleasant real practice.


SOURCE: Pinker, Steven. The Better Angels of Our Nature, Why Violence Has Declined, New York, Penguin, 2011. (page i6)


Likewise, people “racked with pain” long ago felt so because they were tied to a torture rack designed for just this purpose.


SOURCE: Pinker, Steven. The Better Angels of Our Nature, Why Violence Has Declined, New York, Penguin, 2011. (Page i6)