A wise person once told me to avoid clichés like the plague. The origin of these overly used phrases is a popular topic within Yahoo! Answers. Today, I tried to get to the bottom of one of our most overly used and misunderstood clichés: saved by the bell.
I always assumed this one originated with boxing. A pugilist was knocked to the ground, but because the round-ending bell rang before he was counted out by the ref, the downed boxer was not defeated. Hence, he was saved by the bell. Sounds right, but that may not be where the phrase originally came from.
Phrases.org, one of my favorite sites, explains that there is another, very popular theory regarding the origin of the phrase. Some experts believe that the phrase originated not in the boxing ring, but in the cemetery. “There is a widespread notion that the phrase is from the 17th century and that it describes people being saved from being buried alive by using a coffin with a bell attached.”
Wait, what? People being buried alive? Yeah, well, apparently the science of identifying dead bodies wasn’t as advanced back then. People entered comas and were believed to be dead, but weren’t. Fortunately, people knew that sometimes “mistakes are made,” so they buried the dead with a bell. If it turned out that the departed wasn’t really dead, he or she would then ring the bell, and hopefully, somebody would dig them up. “Hopefully” being the key word.
But not everybody agrees with this theory. Snopes.com, another wonderful site, writes that the phrase has nothing to do with the prematurely buried asking for a second chance. The columnist insists the phrase started with boxing. All the stuff about bells and cemeteries is just a Web rumor.
What do you guys think? Do you have a definitive answer to the origin of “saved by the bell”? Feel free to make your case in the comments below and please include a supporting link or two. Looking forward to checking ‘em all out. And please, no Zack Morris jokes.
Thanks for reading,
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