‘(as) fit as a mallee bull’: meaning and origin

Australia, 1960—very fit and well, in robust health—the image is of a bull strengthened by his living in one of the semi-desert areas of Australia in which the principal vegetation is mallee, i.e., low-growing bushy eucalyptus

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‘scarlet letter’: meanings and origin

a representation of the letter A in scarlet cloth which Hester Prynne is condemned to wear in The Scarlet Letter (1850), by Nathaniel Hawthorne—soon came to be used figuratively in the sense of a stigma, a mark of infamy

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‘Nacht und Nebel’: meanings and origin

the name of a decree issued in Nazi Germany in December 1941, under which individuals suspected of resistance or other underground activities were arrested and deported suddenly and without trace, frequently during the night—by extension: any situation, event, etc., characterised by mystery, obscurity or secrecy

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‘ignorance is bliss’: meaning and origin

means that, if one is unaware of an unpleasant fact or situation, one cannot be troubled by it—coined by the English poet Thomas Gray in An Ode on a Distant Prospect of Eton College, first published in 1747

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‘my giddy aunt!’: meaning and origin

UK, 1890—the dated jocular exclamations ‘my giddy aunt!’, ‘my sainted aunt!’, etc., express surprise, consternation, etc.—they are extended forms of the exclamation ‘my aunt!’

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