the various meanings of ‘earthling’

Before being a science-fiction term used by aliens to refer to an inhabitant of the earth, ‘earthling’ denoted an inhabitant of the earth as opposed to heaven.

Read More

‘Scouse’ (Liverpudlian)

The original sense of ‘Scouse’, denoting a person from Liverpool, is ‘a stew’. The word ‘scouse’ is in turn a shortening of ‘lobscouse’, of obscure origin.

Read More

Yorkshire tyke

The word ‘tyke’, a nickname for a person from Yorkshire, originally meant ‘mongrel’. The people from Yorkshire have adopted it as a term of self-reference.

Read More

over the top

‘Over the top’, which means ‘excessive’, originated as a WWI expression meaning ‘over the parapet of a trench and into battle’.

Read More

sot-l’y-laisse

The French word for the oyster-shaped piece of meat in the hollow of the pelvic bone of a fowl is ‘sot-l’y-laisse’, literally ‘(the) fool leaves it there’.

Read More

(with) tongue in cheek

The phrase ‘(with) tongue in cheek’ originally referred to a sign of contempt or derision consisting in sticking one’s tongue in one’s cheek.

Read More

(as) mad as a March hare

‘(As) mad as a March hare’ refers to the fact that, in the breeding season, the hare is characterised by much leaping, boxing and chasing in circles.

Read More

origin of ‘barmy’ (crazy)

A ‘barmy’ person has a ‘frothy top’, insubstantial brains, from ‘barm’, the froth that forms on the top of fermenting malt liquors.

Read More

origin of ‘poulet’ (love letter)

Of French origin, the word ‘poulet’, literally ‘chicken’, denotes a love letter. It probably refers to the fact that when folding these messages, one would make two tips resembling chicken wings.

Read More

contredanse

  plate 19: La Trénis, Contredanse source: gallica.bnf.fr / Bibliothèque Nationale de France from the 1931 reprint of the caricatures published under the title of Le Bon Genre (1827 edition), including Observations sur les modes et les usages de Paris; the following comment about La Trénis accompanies this plate: (Année 1805.) Cette danse porte le […]

Read More