Where Did the Expression “Spinning a Yarn” When Telling a Tall Tale Originate and What Does the Idiom Mean?

If someone is “spinning a yam” they are exaggerating the truth.

First printed about 1812, the expression is nautical and has nothing to do with domestic spinning.

Sailors were required to spend long tedious shifts working in pairs, spinning fibers into the endless miles of rope needed to keep their sailing ship sound.

To pass the time, they entertained themselves by telling tall tales, or “spinning yarns.”

About Karen Hill

Karen Hill is a freelance writer, editor, and columnist. Born in New York, her work has appeared in the Examiner, Yahoo News, Buzzfeed, among others.

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