‘godwottery’: meanings and origin

gardening or garden design in an affected, fussily decorative or over-elaborate style; archaic and affected language—UK, 1931—alludes to “A garden is a lovesome thing, God wot!”, in My Garden (1893), by the Manx poet T. E. Brown

Read More

‘hot-arsed’: meaning and origin

slang—(used especially of women) lustful; sexually aroused or arousing—first recorded in The Confession of the New Married Couple (London, 1683)

Read More

‘autumn-spring’: meanings and origin

a period of warm, springlike weather occurring in the autumn—hence, figuratively, a late period of youthfulness—first used from 1639 onwards by the Anglican clergyman and historian Thomas Fuller (1608-1661)

Read More

‘Bunburying’: meaning and origin

UK, 1895—the use of an imaginary person as a fictitious excuse for visiting a place or avoiding obligations—from ‘Bunbury’, the name of an imaginary character in The Importance of being Earnest (first performed in 1895), by Oscar Wilde

Read More

‘prunes and prism(s)’: meaning and origin

a prim or affected facial expression or manner of speaking; affected mannerisms, superficial accomplishments—originally, in Little Dorrit (1857), by Charles Dickens, a phrase spoken aloud in order to form the lips into an attractive shape

Read More

notes on ‘no joy without alloy’

also ‘no joy without annoy’—meaning: there is a trace of trouble or difficulty in every pleasure—was already a common proverb in the late sixteenth century

Read More

‘Bardolatry’: meaning and origin

excessive reverence for William Shakespeare—1901, coined by George Bernard Shaw—from ‘the Bard’, an epithet of William Shakespeare, and the combining form ‘-olatry’, forming nouns with the sense ‘worship of’, ‘excessive reverence for’

Read More

‘Wardour-Street English’: meaning and origin

inauthentic archaic language, especially as affected by authors of historical novels—UK, 1867—alludes to the fact that, in the 19th century, Wardour Street, in London, became known for its many shops specialising in imitations of antique furniture

Read More