Do all idioms have a story or an origin where they came from? An example of what I mean is the origin of "mad as a hatter" provided by this site:

While “hatter” refers to Lewis Carroll’s Mad Hatter character in Alice in Wonderland, the expression has its origins in the effects of the chronic mercury poisoning commonly experienced by 18th and 19th century hat manufacturers owing to the use of mercurous nitrate in felt hats. “Mad as a March hare” comes from the behaviour of hares during the breeding season, when they run and leap about the fields.

and an example of what I mean as a story (turn a blind eye):

Interestingly, this expression is said to have arisen as a result of the famous English naval hero Admiral Horatio Nelson, who, during the Battle of Copenhagen in 1801, is alleged to have deliberately raised his telescope to his blind eye, thus ensuring that he would not see any signal from his superior giving him discretion to withdraw from the battle.

  • Well I doubt "It's raining cats and dogs" has a (literal) story behind it. – user20792 Nov 9 '15 at 8:43
  • It's got a good one though! – JMB Nov 9 '15 at 9:11
  • @User1 though it has a possible one as put up by the site I linked. – CipherBot Nov 9 '15 at 9:26
  • Cipher, the website, besides saying 'obscure' and 'speculation' (both indicating no actual story), also says: may even be a reference to dead animals being washed through the streets by floods, which again is not a story--and I fail to see how a reference to animals washing away in a flood would ever have been used to describe very heavy rainfall from the sky. Thus, this idiom does not have a story behind it, in the way the other two examples do. – user20792 Nov 9 '15 at 22:27

Yes, everything has a story.

Historians will always be able to find the earliest recorded use of an idiom, as long as you keep in mind that it is based on whatever written documents they look through. There might be even earlier written documents that they have not seen yet. The idiom may have been used verbally long before it was written.

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    I don't think the original poster meant "story" as in "what was the earliest use of this idiom", but rather as in "this idiom comes from the story about Joe Bloggs and how he once fought a bear" or whatever. – stangdon Nov 9 '15 at 12:32
  • @stangdon provides a substantial summary of what I am asking for. I am not asking for the earliest recorded use but rather how it came about. An example is: Someone did something unusual that it became a topic to talk about, eventually coming about to an idiom. The example of the story for turn a blind eye sufficiently shows what I meant. Apologies if my question was unclear on this fact. – CipherBot Nov 9 '15 at 13:08

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