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Macabre origins of everyday phrases

Die Hard


Tyburn, near what is now Marble Arch, in London, was the principal location for public hangings in England until 1783. The ‘drop’ method of hanging wasn’t then in use and the process was sometimes a prolonged affair. There are records showing that some of those who were about to be hanged opted to take the opposite course to the ‘die hards’ and paid people to hang onto their legs so that they died quickly. There’s no evidence however for the commonly repeated notion that this is the derivation of the phrase ‘pulling one’s leg’.

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