‘the ant’s pants’: meaning and origin

Australia, 1928—an outstandingly good person or thing—variant of the synonymous jocular expressions, of U.S. origin, based on various parts of animals’ real or fanciful anatomy and other attributes, such as ‘the bee’s knees’ and ‘the cat’s whiskers’

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‘everything’s apples’: meaning and origin

Australia, 1941—‘apples’ is used in phrases such as ‘everything’s apples’, meaning ‘everything is all right’—perhaps from ‘apple-pie order’—may have originated in the Australian armed forces’ slang during World War II

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‘aptronymic’, ‘aptonym’, etc.

USA—‘aptronymic’ 1915—‘aptonymic’ 1949—‘aptronym’ 1919—‘aptonym’ 1984—these nouns denote a person’s name that is regarded as amusingly appropriate to their profession or personal characteristics—from the adjective ‘apt’, meaning ‘appropriate in the circumstances’, and the suffixes ‘-onymic’ and ‘-onym’

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‘dadchelor party’: meaning and origin

USA, 2009—a party given for a man who is about to become a father, attended by men only—‘dadchelor’: a blend of ‘dad’ (i.e., ‘father’) and of ‘bachelor’ in ‘bachelor party’ (a party given for a man who is about to get married, attended by men only)

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‘royal we’: meaning and origin

UK, 1821—‘we’ used in place of ‘I’ by a monarch or other person in power, also (frequently humorously) by any individual—originated as a loan translation from French ‘nous royal’, as used of Napoléon Bonaparte by Madame de Staël in her memoirs published in 1821

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‘blue-sky talk’ | ‘blue-sky research’

USA—‘blue-sky talk’ 1900—‘blue-sky research’ 1947—the adjective ‘blue-sky’ is used to mean: (in negative sense) fanciful, hypothetical; (in positive sense) creative or visionary—from the notion of a blue sky as a place free from disturbances or difficulties

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‘no good to Gundy’: meaning and origin

Australia, 1902—of no use or advantage whatsoever, no good at all—origin unknown—alliterative effect and phonetical factors proper to Australia may have contributed to the currency of the phrase

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‘to out-Herod Herod’ | ‘to out-Zola Zola’

the phrases built on the pattern ‘to out-X X’, in which ‘X’ is a person’s name, mean to be superior to X in his or her characteristics—the prefix ‘out-’ has been used to form verbs conveying the sense of surpassing, exceeding or beating in the action described by the simple verb

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‘Tory-lite’: meanings and origin

UK, 1995—a derogatory designation of New Labour, i.e., a right-wing/social democratic trend in Labour thinking and policy, advocated by Tony Blair—‘Tory’: the British Conservative Party; ‘lite’ (phonetic respelling of the adjective ‘light’): a moderated version of something

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notes on ‘queuemanship’

1950—the exercise of ploys and tactics in order to minimise time spent waiting in a queue—composed of the noun ‘queue’ and the suffix ‘-manship’—here, ‘-manship’ does not refer to the skills worthy of a role, as in ‘horsemanship’ and ‘statesmanship’, but to the ploys used to gain the upper hand, as in ‘gamesmanship’

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