the uncertain origin of ‘cockney’

originally ‘pampered child’, later ‘town-dweller regarded as affected or puny’—origin uncertain—probably not the same word as ‘cokeney’, literally ‘cock’s egg’

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origin of ‘ado’

from ‘at do’ (meaning ‘to do’)—construction ‘to have’ + pronominal object (e.g. ‘much’) + ‘at do’ led to ‘ado’ reinterpreted as a noun qualified by an adjective

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‘spare the rod and spoil the child’

first recorded in ‘Hudibras’ (1664), by Samuel Butler—from the first half of ‘Proverbs’, 13:24: “Whoever spares the rod hates their children.”

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origin of ‘a little bird told me’

1711 in a letter by Jonathan Swift—perhaps from Ecclesiastes, 10:20: “a bird of the air shall carry the voice; and that which hath wings, shall tell the matter”

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origin of ‘one’s best bib and tucker’

18th century, of women’s clothes—‘bib’: a piece of cloth worn between throat and waist; ‘tucker’: a piece of lace or linen worn in or around the top of a bodice

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origin of ‘spick and span’

mid-17th cent. in the sense ‘brand new’—from ‘spick and span new’, extension of ‘span new’, from Old Norse ‘spán-nýr’, ‘as new as a freshly cut wooden chip’

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