origin of ‘to pull someone’s leg’

‘To pull someone’s leg’ is perhaps from the image of tripping someone literally or figuratively, of putting them at a disadvantage to make them appear foolish.

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history of ‘slapstick’

slapstick (USA): device used to make a great noise with the pretence of dealing a heavy blow, hence comedy characterised by horseplay and physical action

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origin of ‘in a nutshell’

The phrase ‘in a nutshell’ originated in a story told by Pliny of a copy of Homer’s ‘Iliad’ supposedly small enough to be enclosed in the shell of a nut.

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origin of ‘Boxing Day’

from the verb ‘box’, ‘to give a Christmas-box’, i.e. to give a gratuity or present to tradespeople and employees—originally a box in which money was collected

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origin of ‘moonraker’

moonraker: a native of Wiltshire; from the tale that some of them mistook the reflection of the moon in a pond for a cheese and tried to rake it out.

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the straight and narrow

‘The straight and narrow’: allusion to the Sermon on the Mount. ‘Straight’ is an alteration of ‘strait’, meaning ‘so narrow as to make transit difficult’.

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over the moon

The phrase ‘over the moon’ means ‘very happy’, ‘delighted’. It seems to have originated in Ireland in the early 18th century.

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origin of ‘once in a blue moon’

‘Once in a blue moon’ is a development from ‘once in a moon’, meaning ‘once a month’, hence ‘occasionally’—‘blue’ is merely a meaningless fanciful intensive.

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origin of ‘gas and gaiters’

coined by Charles Dickens in Nicholas Nickleby (1839) in a comic passage in which an insane speaker makes a series of nonsensical statements

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