origin of ‘madeleine’

‘madeleine’: originally ‘gâteau à la Madeleine’ (late 18th cent.), perhaps named after French cook Madeleine Paumier – refers also to Swann’s Way, by Proust

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origin of ‘maudlin’

‘maudlin’: tearfully sentimental – from the Middle-English name ‘Maudelen’, designating Mary Magdalene, a follower of Jesus, customarily represented as weeping

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to wet one’s whistle

In ‘to wet one’s whistle’ (to take a drink), attested in the late 14th century, in Chaucer, ‘whistle’ is jocular for the mouth or the throat.

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origin of ‘to pull someone’s leg’

‘To pull someone’s leg’ is perhaps from the image of tripping someone literally or figuratively, of putting them at a disadvantage to make them appear foolish.

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origin of ‘Boxing Day’

from the verb ‘box’, ‘to give a Christmas-box’, i.e. to give a gratuity or present to tradespeople and employees—originally a box in which money was collected

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the straight and narrow

‘The straight and narrow’: allusion to the Sermon on the Mount. ‘Straight’ is an alteration of ‘strait’, meaning ‘so narrow as to make transit difficult’.

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over the moon

The phrase ‘over the moon’ means ‘very happy’, ‘delighted’. It seems to have originated in Ireland in the early 18th century.

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origin of ‘once in a blue moon’

‘Once in a blue moon’ is a development from ‘once in a moon’, meaning ‘once a month’, hence ‘occasionally’—‘blue’ is merely a meaningless fanciful intensive.

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to have a bee in one’s bonnet

This phrase is a transformation of ‘one’s head full of bees’, meaning scatter-brained, unable to think straight, as if bees are buzzing around in one’s head.

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