Let's face it, words can be pretty boring. They don't talk, you can't eat them, they're not boobs. It's like, why even have them anymore?
However, just like superheroes, words have origin stories, and we guarantee that these six are about a thousand times less shitty than Wolverine.
Put an end to something.
"I'm putting the kibosh on this right now. You are NOT boning my sister."
"I'm literally putting a kibosh on my head right now, because I am about to murder you."
"Kibosh" sounds like one of those amusing bits of gibberish that people make up out of nowhere, but that's not the case. In fact, some experts believe that "kibosh" comes from the Gaelic phrase "cie bais," pronounced "ky-bosh," which translates to cap of death, the black skullcap that would be donned by a judge as he prepared to sentence someone to execution, and it's apparently still used as a metaphor in Ireland today. Like the oranges in The Godfather, seeing a cie bais meant one thing: Someone was going to die.
With a name like "cap of death," we sort of would have preferred if it was a hat that shot lasers, but it's still a fairly badass origin story.
To take a dangerous risk, especially in conversation.
"You are REALLY pushing the envelope, trying to bone my sister!"
"You are REALLY pushing the envelope, and as a result, a plane is going to explode."
You'd be forgiven for thinking that the "envelope" in question is a paper one, but you'd be wrong. It's mathematical.
Now, you may think that by adding math to an article that's already about words and history that we've officially thrown ourselves into a perfect storm of perpetual nerd virginity, but first hear us out. Mathematics is used to calculate a plane's limits in a construct called its "flight envelope." That is, the particular combination of speed, height, stress and other aeronautical factors that form the bounds of safe operation. Go beyond these limits, or "push" the "envelope," and you'll be dancing into the danger zone where the dancer becomes the dance, and the plane becomes a giant fireball.
Test pilots, of course, have to push the flight envelope all the time. By flying a plane beyond its mathematical limits, they can check that it'll be safe when flown within its limits and find out what parts might fail if the limits are pushed, all while running the risk of having the plane burst into flames. There's also the rarely spoken about unofficial risk of having the moon collide with the plane as a result of the strong, gravitational pull brought on by the pilot's massive, massive balls.
A wise guy, a know-it-all.
"Don't be a smart alec, I'm not letting you bone my sister no matter how funny you are. "
"Don't be a smart alec; tell your whore wife to stop robbing me."
The most likely source of the term "smart alec," according to Professor Gerald Cohen, is an incredibly ballsy con artist called Alexander ("Alec") Hoag, who along with his hooker wife (man, his nickname is so much better than hers), swindled a string of horny men in New York in the 1840s.
It worked like this: When said hooker wife, Melinda, was "engaged" with a "client," Alec would "sneak" through a "secret panel in the wall" and "make off" with the guy's "stuff." When the client was finished, he would find to his horror that his wallet, pocketbook and/or watch had mysteriously vanished and, what's more, the police didn't want to help. Why? Because Alec, that devilish rogue, had paid off the cops, of course!
"Wow, they should call you generous alec!"
Unfortunately for our original smart Alec, he got a bit too clever. Instead of paying the crooked cops like a good honest man, he started to hide his plunder. Eventually, Hoag was busted and sent to jail where he met a wrongfully imprisoned newspaper editor named George Wilkes, who wrote his story down. The theory goes that either Wilkes or the police gave Hoag the nickname of "smart Alec" for being a clever thief who got too clever for his own good.