origin of ‘the Slough of Despond’

the name of a deep boggy place at the beginning of Christian’s journey to the Celestial City in ‘The Pilgrim’s Progress’ (1678), by John Bunyan

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origin of ‘eavesdrop’

‘To eavesdrop’ originally referred to standing within the eavesdrop (the ground on to which water drips from the eaves of a house) in order to overhear what is going on inside.

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tour d’ivoire – ivory tower

1837—used by Sainte-Beuve to describe French poet Vigny’s seclusion in a turret room and preoccupation with inspiration unconnected with practical matters

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a nod is as good as a wink

‘a nod’s as good as a wink (to a blind horse)’ 18th century—acknowledges that a hint or suggestion has been understood without the need of further elaboration

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let’s return to our muttons

to return to the matter in hand—from French ‘revenons à nos moutons’ (‘let’s return to our sheep’), allusion to ‘La Farce de Maistre Pierre Pathelin’ (ca 1457)

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origin of ‘to break the ice’

from the image of breaking the frozen surface of a river in order to make a passage for boats – probably from Latin ‘scindere glaciem’, in Erasmus’s Adages

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