‘a memory like a sieve’: meanings and origin

17th century—contrasts what the mind remembers with what it forgets (with reference to the opposition between the coarser particles, which are retained by a sieve, and the finer ones, which pass through it)—denotes an extremely poor memory (with reference to the fact that a sieve does not hold all its contents)

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‘mare nostrum’: meanings and origin

classical Latin ‘mare nostrum’, literally ‘our sea’: one of the names given by the Romans to the Mediterranean Sea—USA, 1824: any sea or other stretch of water belonging to, or under the control of, a nation

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‘gavroche’: meaning and origin

USA, 1863—a street urchin, especially in Paris, France—from ‘Gavroche’, the name of a street urchin in Les Misérables (1862), a novel by Victor Hugo

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‘parlour socialist’ | ‘parlour socialism’

UK and USA, late 19th century—‘parlour socialist’: a middle- or upper-class person claiming to be committed to the cause of socialism but not actually involved in the achievement of that cause—‘parlour socialism’: the claimed commitment of a middle- or upper-class person to the cause of socialism without actual involvement in the achievement of that cause

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‘parlour’ (attributive modifier): ‘parlour patriot’

‘parlour patriot’ (1797)—the earliest of the phrases in which ‘parlour’ is a depreciative attributive modifier used of a person claiming to be committed to a cause but not actually involved in the achievement of that cause—‘parlour’ is also used of the claimed commitment to a cause without actual involvement in the achievement of that cause

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‘armchair’ (attributive modifier)

The noun ‘armchair’ is used as an attributive modifier meaning: 1) based or taking place in the home as opposed to the world or environment outside; hence, chiefly depreciatively: 2) lacking or not involving practical or direct experience of a particular subject or activity.

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‘wetback’ and its sardonic variant ‘dryback’

USA, 1920: ‘wetback’: an illegal immigrant who crossed the Rio Grande from Mexico to the USA—by extension: any illegal immigrant who entered a foreign country by swimming—Mexico and USA, 1994: ‘espaldas secas’, i.e., ‘dry backs’: the U.S. citizens working in Mexico as a result of the North American Free Trade Agreement

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‘Astroturf’: meanings and origin

USA—1966: an artificial grass surface used for sports fields—‘Astro-’: from the first use of Astroturf in the Astrodome stadium at Houston, Texas—1972, with humorous allusion to ‘grassroots’: an artificial version of a grassroots campaign

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‘kangaroo care’: meaning and origin

USA, 1990—a method of caring for a premature newborn in which a parent holds the infant on their chest in skin-to-skin contact—from the fact that kangaroos give birth to still-developing foetuses, then nurse them in their pouches

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