‘doona day’: meanings and origin

Australia, 1996—a day spent in bed in order to restore one’s spirits; an unscheduled extra day’s leave from work, taken to alleviate stress or pressure and sanctioned by one’s employer—from ‘Doona’, a proprietary name for an eiderdown or duvet, hence a generic term for any eiderdown or duvet

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‘handbags at ten paces’: meaning and origin

UK, 1978—(soccer players) a confrontation that does not lead to serious fighting—based on the cliché ‘pistols at ten paces’—the substitution of ‘pistols’ with ‘handbags’, which evokes women fighting with their handbags, expresses the histrionic character of the confrontation

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‘mahogany reef’: meanings and origin

USA, 1924—(jocular, nautical) a bar, i.e., a counter in a pub, restaurant, etc., across which alcoholic drinks are served—also used as the name, or nickname, of an actual drinking establishment—skiers’ corresponding phrase: ‘mahogany ridge’

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‘frogspawn’ (tapioca pudding)

UK, 1921—‘frogspawn’: a jocular appellation for ‘tapioca pudding’ (also for ‘sago pudding’)—originated in schoolchildren’s slang—refers to the fact that both tapioca pudding and sago pudding very much resemble frogspawn, i.e., a soft substance like jelly which contains the eggs of a frog

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‘birth-control glasses’: meaning and origin

USA, 1986—ugly spectacles, in particular army-issue spectacles—the image is that those spectacles are so ugly that nobody would want to make a baby with somebody wearing a pair—also ‘BCGs’

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‘bark mitzvah’: meaning and origin

USA, 1966—a (13th-birthday) party held for a dog—a blend of ‘bark’ (the sharp explosive cry of a dog), and of ‘bar mitzvah’ (the coming-of-age ceremony for a 13-year-old Jewish boy), or ‘bat mitzvah’ (the equivalent ceremony for a Jewish girl)

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‘dine and dash’: meanings and origin

USA, 1975—to hastily or furtively leave a restaurant, cafe, etc., in order to avoid paying for one’s bill—also used as a noun, especially as a modifier—has also been used of meals eaten quickly

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‘soft Mick’: meaning and origin

Lancashire, England, 1939—used in similative and comparative phrases such as ‘as —— as soft Mick’ and ‘more —— than soft Mick’, the noun ‘soft Mick’ (also ‘Soft Mick’) indicates a great quantity or degree

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