I am fascinated with words and phrases and how they came to be.
Since July 5, I have been on a cross-country road trip. On our stop to see Mammoth Cave in Kentucky, I found out how the term "petered out" came to be.
Petered Out = To End Weakly / To Become Exhausted / To Give Out
Back in the day, Native Americans used the caves to mine saltpeter. This was turned into gunpowder. Unfortunately, Americans quickly figured out that they could ship it in cheaper than they could make their own, so the saltpeter mines just slowly ceased to exist... or they petered out.
Here is a picture from Mammoth Cave of an old saltpeter mine.
Is there a word or phrase you'd love to know the origin of?