As with other parts of the body, legs are present in many common English expressions. Curiously, there are a number of leg idioms in other languages too.  For example, in Japanese «The legs of a snake» means «Unnecessary things».  In Ukraine and China,  ‘Extend one’s legs’ means to die. In Argentina they say that ‘Lies have short legs’, meaning that a lie may be discovered at any moment. Today we are going to explore 3 common Leg idioms in English, Pull someone’s leg, Not a leg to stand on, Have legs.

 

 

1. Pull Someone’s Leg meaning

 

We’re not pulling your leg. We mean business

 

When you pull someone’s leg you lie to someone in a friendly way to make them believe something that isn’t true.

 

Origin

This idiom first appeared in the late 1800s in America. The origin of Pull someone’s leg is not clear, but there are two popular theories.

  1. Thieves would pull the legs of their desired victims to distract and then rob them.
  2. During public executions (hangings) in England, family member and friends would pull the victim’s leg so that they would die quicker and not suffer for too long.

Example sentences

  • You’re not serious! Stop pulling my leg!
  • I panicked when she said the presentation was tomorrow, but then I realised she was pulling my leg

 

You’re not pulling my leg, are you?

 

2. Have a leg to stand on meaning

You guys don’t have a fucking leg to stand on

 

If someone doesn’t have a leg to stand on it means that what they say to be true cannot be proved or justified.

 

Origin

British English form the late 16th century. It seems that this idiom first made reference to chairs and stools. Each time a leg was taken off the stool it would provide less support to the person sitting on it.

Example sentences

  • You think you’re right, but really you don’t have a leg to stand on
  • My legal advisor said I shouldn’t sue the company because I don’t have a leg to stand on. 

You haven’t got a leg to stand on. You know that, I hope. Oh, I don’t feel that way

 

3. Have legs meaning

 

It just makes me wonder if this thing really has the legs

1. If something has legs, it will have a long future and be successful
This startup company has legs
2. If a story in the news has legs, it will be be in the news for a long time.
This royal family scandal has legs and we’ll still be hearing about it next year. 

 History

Although there is no clear origin for the phrase, this idiom has been around since the 1700s.

 

legs usageRecorded usage of  ‘have legs’

 

Let’s see if the plan has legs

 

Are there any expressions with Legs in your language? Please Comment and Share so that our blog will have legs for many more years to come!