‘a rat with a gold tooth’: meaning and origin

Australia, 1972—a person, usually a man, who, in spite of a superficial smartness, is untrustworthy—‘rat’ refers to a deceitful or disloyal man—the image is that, despite the gold tooth, a rat’s basic nature cannot change

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‘the ant’s pants’: meaning and origin

Australia, 1928—an outstandingly good person or thing—variant of the synonymous jocular expressions, of U.S. origin, based on various parts of animals’ real or fanciful anatomy and other attributes, such as ‘the bee’s knees’ and ‘the cat’s whiskers’

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‘an egg yesterday and a feather-duster tomorrow’

USA 1907—used of the inanity of life and of the transitoriness of success—originated in the captions to a cartoon known as ‘The Dejected Rooster’, by Mark Fenderson, published by the weekly magazine Life (New York City) in 1907

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‘a cup of tea, a Bex and a good lie down’: meanings and origin

Australia, 1965—a panacea; a source of comfort; also indicates the need for a rest to settle down—originated in ‘A Cup of Tea, a Bex and a Good Lie Down’ (1965), a satiric revue by John McKellar—‘Bex’ was a proprietary name for a type of analgesic

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‘the first cab off the rank’: meanings and origin

Australia, 1952—the first in line; the first in a series of people or things to arrive or appear; the first to take advantage of an opportunity—refers to cab ranks (i.e., designated areas where taxicabs line up to wait for business), which operate on a first come, first served system

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‘it’s moments like these’ | ‘Mintie’

Australia, late 1920s—With reference to the slogan used in newspaper advertisements for Minties (peppermint-flavoured sweets), the phrase ‘it’s moments like these’ is applied to anyone in extremity, and the name ‘Mintie’ denotes a source of comfort.

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‘lower than a snake’s belly’: meaning and origin

USA, 1893—utterly despicable—jocular extension of ‘lower than a snake’—refers to the use of ‘low’ to mean ‘despicable’, and to the use of ‘snake’ to denote ‘a treacherous or deceitful person’

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