Posted by James Briggs on April 03, 2005
In Reply to: Idiom origins posted by purty burdy on April 02, 2005
: I NEED TO FIND DIFFERENT IDIOM ORIGINS FOR A SCHOOL PROJECT BUT I CAN'T SEEM TO FIND THEM ANYWHERE. IF ANYONE KNOWS THE ORIGINS OF "TIP OF THE ICEBERG", "BIRDS OF A FEATHER FLOCK TOGETHER", OR "BY THE SKIN OF YOUR TEETH", IWOULD GREATLY APPRECIATE YOUR HELP! THANK YOU
The first two are observations of nature. An iceberg is mainly underwater and its tip represents only about one tenth of what's below. Thus, some things which appear small/trivial can be much larger in fact.
Birds. They nearly always fly in flocks, probably for protection.
There's nothing subltle about the origin of these two sayings.
Teeth: To escape by the skin of your teeth means to have a very narrow escape. The phrase comes from the Bible in Job,xix,20 and reads: "My bone cleaveth to my skin, and to my flesh, I am escaped with the skin of my teeth." Since there is no skin on the teeth, then the narrowness of the escape is obvious.