- The expression “to stand your ground” has four possible origins.
- It means “to keep quiet”.
- In this expression, “tile” is always singular.
“You better keep your wits about you!” » What child has not already heard this lecture when it was time to be quiet? And who hasn’t wondered which square to stick to? Rest assured, linguists themselves are still debating it…
How many tiles?
First of all, let’s dot the “i”s: we’re standing on our toes, not squares. Tiles are like squares of chocolate: one is enough.
The medieval hypothesis
Before Famas and the AK47, soldiers had to make do with crossbows, an obsolete weapon if ever there was one. The arrow of this machine was called a “bolt”. Was it a matter of being ready to put the bolt on your weapon to shoot or of being discreet to avoid the opponent’s bolts? Nobody is quite sure.
The revolutionary hypothesis
The French Revolution was a period rich in trials. So, the public was confined to a flagged floor (i.e., made up of tiles), from which it was impossible for them to express themselves.
The card game hypothesis
An expression dear to the card players of yesteryear would have been “he who keeps his wits about him is never a fool”, in other words, like Parker Lewis, who hides and watches his game carefully never loses.
The police slang hypothesis
This is perhaps the most credible explanation: “to keep quiet” would be derived from “se squarer”, that is to say, to stay hidden at home. A term used by police officers and gangsters since the 19th century.
Gn Fr France