Idiom dating young
In the era of slavery, the pulpwood cars were built with an outer frame with the wood being stacked inside in moderately neat rows and stacks.
However, given the nature of the cars, it was possible to smuggle persons in the pile itself, possibly giving rise to the term.
Go teaches the meaning of English idioms and phrases.Thus, the phrase has been supplanted by synonymous "skeletons in the closet" which carries no such connotations. The evidence is slight, but it is presumed that they were derived from actual instances of the concealment of fugitive slaves in their flight north under piles of firewood or within hiding places in stone walls.Another possible origin comes from the practice of transporting pulpwood on special railroad cars.- if it ain't broke, don't fix it; in a pickle / in a jam / in a fix; in one ear and out the other; in the driver's seat; in the short run / in the long run; in over your head; it ain't over till the fat lady sings.
- laughter is the best medicine; learn the ropes; let sleeping dogs lie; left hand doesn't know what the right hand is doing; let the cat out of the bag; let your hair down; light at the end of the tunnel.
Dixon-Smith said the phrase had "slipped out without my thinking", and that "It was common parlance when I was younger".