a British phrase: ‘to go like a bomb’

from the image of a speeding explosive projectile—primary meaning (of a motorcar, an aircraft, a motorcycle, an animal, a person): to move very fast—later (also ‘to go down like a bomb’ and ‘to go down a bomb’): to be very successful or popular

Read More

‘soapedy’: meaning and origin

a television programme or cinema film exhibiting qualities of both drama and comedy—USA, 1998—blend of ‘soap (opera)’, or of ‘soaper’, and of ‘comedy’—coined on various occasions by different persons, independently from one another

Read More

‘Johnny Canuck’: meanings and origin

USA, 1858—a personification of the Canadian nation; Canadian people collectively; as a count noun: a Canadian—from ‘Canuck’, meaning Canadian—‘Johnny’ is used with modifying word to designate a person of the type, group, profession, etc., specified

Read More

‘to thank one’s lucky stars’: meaning and origin

to be grateful for one’s good fortune—18th century—from the notion that a planet, star or zodiacal constellation influences events and human affairs—this notion had given rise in the 16th century to the phrase ‘to thank (or to curse) one’s stars’

Read More

‘soccer mom’: meaning and origin

USA, 1973—a suburban mother who spends a lot of time taking her children to play soccer or engage in similar activities—popularised during the presidential election campaign of 1996 as designating an influential voting bloc

Read More

‘Hooray Henry’: meaning and origin

a lively but ineffectual young upper-class man—UK, 1959—apparently coined in the 1950s by the British jazz manager James Godbolt after ‘Hoorah Henry’, coined in 1936 by the U.S. author Alfred Damon Runyon

Read More

‘Barney’s bull’: meanings and early occurrences

Australia, 1834—used in various phrases, in particular as a type of someone or something in a very bad state or condition—also in the phrase ‘all behind like Barney’s bull’, meaning ‘very delayed’ or ‘backward’—origin unknown

Read More

‘Absurdistan’: meanings and origin

a country characterised by absurdity—originally used of Czechoslovakia—the suffix ‘-istan’ (in country names such as ‘Pakistan’) is used as the second element in satirical names denoting, in particular, ‘a country characterised by [the first element]’

Read More