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‘Wood’ you know the origin?

Latest News October 31, 2018 3:54 pm

As we supply and collect wooden pallets across the UK, helping businesses to improve resource efficiencies and promote sustainability, we thought it would be interesting to investigate the history of the word ‘wood’ and the origin of common phrases including it.

Here’s what we found…



  1. The hard-fibrous material that forms the main substance of the trunk or branches of a tree or shrub, used for fuel of timber.
  2. An area of land, smaller than a forest, that is covered with growing trees.

‘Knock on wood’

Ancient Indo-Europeans

This common phrase derives from the pagan belief that malevolent spirits inhabited wood. If you had hopes for the future, you should knock on the wood to prevent the spirits from hearing and preventing your hopes from coming true.

This idiom’s origin is also the origin for the phrase ‘touch wood’, believed to prevent bad luck.

Perhaps tapping a wooden pallet today could drive away the evil spirits and help you reuse pallets and save money and the environment.

‘A chip on your shoulder’


Originating from a practice seen in America during the 19th century, boys wanting to fight with each other would place an actual chip of wood on their shoulders before walking around, challenging others to knock the chip off.

‘Barking up the wrong tree’


In the early 1800s in America, hunting with packs of dogs was a very popular practice. The term was originally used to refer to wild prey, such as raccoons, which would trick dogs into thinking they were up a certain tree when they had in fact escaped.

‘Chip off the old block’

Middle English

Used in the 21st century to refer to an individual who closely resembles a parent, it originated as an analogy to when in ancient times a chip of stone or wood that closely resembles the larger block it was cut from.

‘Out of the woods’


Used to signify being out of difficulty, danger or trouble, this phrase alludes to the idea of being lost in a forest and was first recorded in English in 1792.

RPS could get you ‘out of the woods’ by managing your used and waste pallets and help reduce disposal costs, improve responsible handling and increase value of pallet rebates.

‘Can’t see the wood for the trees’


If someone is unable to see the forest for the trees, they are so involved in the minor details or something that they often fail to pay attention to the most important aspects.

Don’t let your business get lost in the woods, let RPS take the hassle out of pallets for your business.

If your business is looking to utilise the benefits of wooden pallets, or share the origins of more wood related idioms, get in touch by calling 01642 465556 or tweet us @RPS_Limited!

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