‘chain-smoker’: meaning and origin

1885—a person who smokes continually, typically by lighting a cigarette from the stub of the last one smoked—loan translation from German ‘Kettenraucher’—originally referred to Otto von Bismarck

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‘square eyes’ | ‘square-eyed’

‘square eyes’ 1955: eyes fancifully imagined as made square by habitual or excessive television viewing; a person characterised as watching too much television—‘square-eyed’ 1953: affected by, or given to, excessive viewing of television

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notes on the phrase ‘sing ’em muck’

1928 in Clara Butt: Her Life-Story, by H. W. Ponder—“Sing ’em muck! It’s all they can understand!”: advice given by Australian soprano Nellie Melba to English contralto Clara Butt, who was about to undertake a tour of Australia

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‘Hollywood ending’: meanings and origin

USA, 1927—a conventional film ending, regarded as sentimental or simplistic, and often featuring an improbably positive outcome—by extension: an improbably positive outcome to a real-life situation

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‘the politics of the warm inner glow’: meaning and origin

Australia, 1981—the ideology of the Australian Labor Party’s left wing, “for whom the ultimate test of a policy is the feeling of personal virtuousness to be derived from its espousal”—Labor politician James McClelland claimed to have coined this phrase

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‘dumbsize’: meaning and origin

USA, 1992—to reduce staff numbers to levels so low that work can no longer be carried out effectively—portmanteau, coined by the Trends Research Institute, combining the adjective ‘dumb’, meaning ‘stupid’, and the verb ‘downsize’

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