the biblical origin of ‘to go the extra mile’

meaning: to try especially hard to achieve something or do it well—originally ‘to go the second mile’—alludes to the gospel of Matthew, 5:41: “And whosoeuer shall compell thee to goe a mile, goe with him twaine”

Read More

‘Mexican overdrive’: meaning and origin

the practice of coasting downhill in a motor vehicle, with the engine disengaged—USA, 1949, lorry-drivers’ slang—one of the phrases in which ‘Mexican’ denotes basic devices or processes compared unfavourably with more advanced equivalents

Read More

‘every little helps’: meaning and origin

every contribution towards a goal is valuable, regardless of how small it may be—UK, 1707—in Britain, particularly associated with Tesco, which has used this phrase as its slogan since 1993

Read More

‘Tardis’: meanings and origin

various meanings, in particular: something with a larger capacity than its outward appearance suggests—UK, 1968—the name, in TV series Doctor Who, of a time machine outwardly resembling a police telephone box, yet inwardly much larger

Read More

‘not cricket’: meanings and origin

the game of cricket played in the incorrect manner or improper spirit—hence, more generally, something contrary to traditional standards of fairness or rectitude—UK, 19th century

Read More

‘a walk in the park’: meaning and origin

(the type of) something easy, effortless or pleasant—USA, 1937—originally denoted, in golf caddies’ slang, a nine-hole round, with some reference to the literal sense of the phrase

Read More

‘Black Hole of Calcutta’: meaning and origin

an oppressive, very confined or crowded space—UK, 1764—refers to the punishment cell at Fort William, Calcutta, in which, in 1756, the Nawab of Bengal reputedly confined British and Anglo-Indian prisoners

Read More