By indexer
333 days ago

Dead Ringer - the origin of the term

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The term “dead ringer” is applied to someone who looks remarkably like someone else, especially if the second person is a celebrity. “Dead Ringers” is also the title of a BBC radio show, although in this case it refers to professional impressionists who can be “soundalikes” of well-known people as opposed to lookalikes. But where does the term originate?

We have to go back to medieval times when medical science was nothing like as advanced as it is now. If somebody relapsed into a coma they were quite likely to be declared dead, after which they would go through all that that entailed, ending with burial in the local churchyard. Also common at that time was grave robbery, with bodies being dug up at night so that any treasures that had been buried with them could be stolen. The robbers were sometimes horrified to discover that there were scratches on the insides of coffin lids, where the “bodies” had “come to life” and desperately tried to dig themselves free, only to succumb to suffocation.

This possibility was so worrying to some people that they gave instructions that – when they died – their grave would be equipped with a bell above ground level and a string would link the bell to their wrist. Should they recover from their coma they would ring the bell and hope that somebody would hear it and dig them up before it was too late. Bizarre as this notion might sound, there were actually occasions on which this ploy worked and people were saved from a very unpleasant death.

Knowing that this was a possibility, people might imagine that someone who looked someone else, who was known to have died, was in fact the same person, “resurrected” by having rung the bell above his or her grave. That would make him or her a “ringer”, but surely he or she would be a “non-dead ringer”, as opposed to a dead one!

Logical or not, that is the origin of the term!
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Explorer2017 Informative
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Justin Very interesting
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soncee Very Beauty artikle
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faithfilia nice article
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