‘witches’ knickers’: meaning and origin

Ireland, 2000—discarded plastic bags or shreds of plastic bags that have become snagged in trees, hedges, etc.—the image is of a witch’s undergarment that got caught in a tree or a hedge when she was flying

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‘Eve-teasing’: meaning and origin

India, 1958—euphemistic appellation for verbal or physical sexual harassment of a woman by a man in a public place—refers to Eve, the first woman in the biblical account of the creation of the world, who is seen as a temptress

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‘chocolate teapot’: meaning and origin

UK, 1967—something or someone that is utterly ineffectual—especially in phrases such as ‘as much use as a chocolate teapot’—variants: ‘chocolate kettle’, ‘chocolate fireplace’ and ‘chocolate fireguard’

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‘hikikomori’: meanings and origin

Japan 1990s—the extreme avoidance of social contact, especially by adolescent males; a person, typically an adolescent male, who avoids social contact—Japanese ‘hikikomori’ is the nominalised stem of the verb ‘hikikomoru’, meaning ‘to withdraw into seclusion’

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‘dementia Americana’: meaning and origin

USA, 1907—the (alleged) form of dementedness, leading to violence, that takes hold of a man who believes that his home has been invaded, or that his family has been violated—coined by attorney Delphin M. Delmas, who defended Harry K. Thaw in his first murder trial

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‘gorilla dust’: meaning and origin

USA, 1986—something intended to divert attention from something more important—refers to the fact that when two male gorillas confront each other, they throw dust in the air to distract one another—popularised, if not coined, by Henry Ross Perot

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‘trigger-happy’: meaning and origin

USA, 1942—over-ready to shoot at anything at any time or on slight provocation—during and following WWII, ‘happy’ was used as the second element in compound adjectives relating to mental instability associated with the first element

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‘rocking-chair job’: meaning and origin

USA—1901 as ‘rocking-chair work’—1907 as ‘rocking-chair job’—a sinecure, i.e., an office or position providing an income or other advantage but requiring little or no work

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‘breastaurant’: meanings and origin

USA, 1966—a restaurant that features scantily-clad waitresses—especially associated with the restaurant chain Hooters—also: a woman who breastfeeds, or the breast of a woman who breastfeeds

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