‘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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‘squander-bug’: meanings and origin (British usage)

1943—a devilish insect symbolising reckless extravagance and waste—introduced by the National Savings Committee in a government publicity campaign promoting economy—hence: one who is profligate with money or resources

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‘william-nilliam’: meaning and origin

1907—whether one likes it or not; haphazardly—a humorous variant of ‘willy-nilly’, after the personal name ‘William’ (‘William’ being familiarly shortened to ‘Willy’)

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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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‘Adam and Eve’ (to believe)

UK, 1925—the verb ‘Adam and Eve’ is rhyming slang for ‘to believe’—there is no truncation, contrary to the usual rhyming-slang formation (cf. ‘scooby’, rhyming slang for ‘clue’, which is short for ‘Scooby Doo’)

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