‘parting shot’ | ‘Parthian shot’

‘parting shot’ (1817); ‘Parthian shot’ (1822): a sharp, telling remark, act, gesture, etc., made in departing—‘parting shot’: literally the final shot fired at the moment of departure—‘Parthian shot’: refers to the Parthian horsemen’s habit of shooting arrows backwards while in real or pretended retreat

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‘bone idle’: meaning and origin

Scotland, 1825 (as ‘bane idle’)—England, 1839—utterly lazy or indolent—‘bone’ seems to be used as an intensifier with adverbial force in the sense ‘through to the bone’, i.e., ‘deeply and fundamentally’

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‘lead in one’s pencil’: meaning and origin

USA, 1927—denotes male vigour, especially sexual—with wordplay on ‘penis’—interestingly, via an alteration of the Latin diminutive ‘pēnĭcillus’, denoting literally a little tail, hence a painter’s brush or pencil, ‘pencil’ is derived from Latin ‘pēnis’, denoting literally a tail, hence the penis

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‘open and shet, sign o’ more wet’: meaning and origin

USA (New England), 1868—alternately sunny and cloudy conditions usually indicate rain—the adjective ‘shet’ is a variant of ‘shut’—it was perhaps in order to provide a rhyme for the adjective ‘wet’ that the variant ‘shet’ was chosen in the proverb

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an Australian use of ‘boots under the bed’

has been used to denote evidence of a de facto relationship affecting a woman’s eligibility for Social-Security benefits—refers to past practices of field officers inspecting homes and bedrooms

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‘lead balloon’: meaning and origin

USA, 1933—a failure, an unsuccessful venture—especially used of suggestions, jokes, etc., made in public—the image is of a balloon made of lead plummeting to the ground

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‘to judge a book by its cover’: meaning and origin

USA, 1837—to make assumptions about someone or something based on appearance or on superficial characteristics—the metaphor occurs in the preface to ‘Truth in Fiction: Or, Morality in Masquerade. A Collection of Two hundred twenty five Select Fables of Æsop, and other Authors’ (London, 1708), by Edmund Arwaker

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‘bread-artist’: meaning and origin

an artist or writer who produces what is considered to be inferior work simply to earn a living—loan translation from German ‘Brotkünstler’—first used in 1827 by Scottish historian and political philosopher Thomas Carlyle in a text about German literature

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