‘blouson noir’: meaning and origin

in French contexts: a young person, especially a young man, belonging to a youth subculture of the 1950s and 1960s—UK, 1959—from the noun ‘blouson’ (a short jacket) and the adjective ‘noir’ (black)

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‘mauvais coucheur’: meaning and origin

a difficult, uncooperative or unsociable person—UK, 1829—from French ‘mauvais coucheur’, literally ‘bad bedfellow’, with original allusion to a person whom a traveller had to share a bed with when stopping over at an inn

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‘yellow peril’: meaning and origin

the political, military or economical threat regarded as being posed by certain peoples of South-East and East Asia, especially the Chinese and the Japanese—UK, 1895—loan translation from French ‘péril jaune’

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‘cannon fodder’ | ‘chair à canon’

soldiers regarded simply as material to be expended in war—‘cannon fodder’ (1847), said to have been coined after German ‘Kanonenfutter’—French ‘chair à canon’ (1814), first used in reference to Napoléon Bonaparte

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notes on ‘no joy without alloy’

also ‘no joy without annoy’—meaning: there is a trace of trouble or difficulty in every pleasure—was already a common proverb in the late sixteenth century

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‘chateau tap-water’ | ‘Château-la-Pompe’

tap-water likened to a grand cru—in reference to ‘château’ in names of wines of superior quality—in French ‘Château-la-Pompe’ (i.e. ‘Château-the-Pump’), ‘pompe’ denotes a device for raising water

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‘Iron Weathercock’ (as applied to Liz Truss)

UK, 2022— translates French ‘girouette de fer’—a derisive nickname for Liz Truss, in reference both to ‘Iron Lady’ (a nickname for Margaret Thatcher) and to Liz Truss’s changing views on a variety of subjects

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