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Sounds like Thunder

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Hey, Camp Folks! 

Idioms are everywhere! We’ve adopted a ton of common phrases and expressions into our everyday language that we often use them without even knowing it. For example, ‘Keep it Up’ originated from Badminton spectators chanting out for players to keep the birdie in the air. You can read more about that right here. Let’s *ahem* keep it up with today’s Blog post we’re going to delve into the origin of the phrase ‘Steal your Thunder’. 

You say that somebody 'steals your thunder' when they get the credit after using your ideas or creations. It’s an odd phrase the more you think about it as we don’t typically think about thunder as being something we possess. I always expected the thunder was a symbolic role in this saying, but the origin behind this phrase is actually more literal. 

Okay, maybe it wasn’t actual thunder, but a sound effect that imitates that rolling roar from the sky. Theater productions have always needed to be creative to make the sounds they need for their plays. 

A playwright in 1704, John Dennis put on a show called ‘Appius and Virginia’. To put on this play, he came up with a new means of the making the sound effect for thunder. While nobody knows exactly what his method was for sure, it’s heavily expected that it involved rolling metal balls in a wooden bowl.   

The play turned out to be a giant flop. After the disappointed playwright’s show closed, John Dennis found himself at a production of ‘Macbeth’. Thunder struck and John recognized the sound effect as his own invention! He was rather displeased to discover his method was stolen. 

He was later quoted putting down the theater, saying “They will not let my play run, but they steal my thunder!” At least he’s still credited nowadays for coming up with this common saying that we still use centuries later. Hope you enjoyed learning the origin of this old phrase today. And, as always, thanks for reading and happy camping! 


- John

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