phrases, sayings, proverbs and idioms at

Home button Home | Search the website Search | Phrase Dictionary | Popular fallacies - the coffin quartet

The meaning and origin of the expression: Popular fallacies - the coffin quartet

Browse phrases beginning with:
A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T UV W XYZ Full List

Popular fallacies - the coffin quartet

There is a vague folk memory that people used to fear being buried alive and that tombs were made with bells attached, so that the unfortunate occupant could ring for assistance if they found themselves the untimely occupant of a coffin. Stories about this are usually said to have originated in 'Victorian times'. In fact, such fears were real and such coffins were designed and patented, although I can find no evidence at all that they were actually used. So far, so factual. The problem arises with the link between this funereal campanology and the language that is said to have arisen from it. Phrases that are said to be associated with the guarding against premature burial are these:

Saved by the bell
Dead ringer
Bats in the belfry
Graveyard shift

Needless to say, as this page is headed 'Popular fallacies', the links above are to essays that debunk these folk etymological myths.