notes on the phrase ‘sing ’em muck’

1928 in Clara Butt: Her Life-Story, by H. W. Ponder—“Sing ’em muck! It’s all they can understand!”: advice given by Australian soprano Nellie Melba to English contralto Clara Butt, who was about to undertake a tour of Australia

Read More

‘can a moose crochet?’: meaning and origin

USA, 1967—emphatic negative phrase meaning ‘well, hardly’ or ‘no, that’s impossible’—used as the title of a jazz piece composed by Johnny Hodges—said to be a folk phrase that he had heard “out West”

Read More

‘singing milkshake’: meaning and origin

1979—nickname given, in particular, to singer Olivia Newton-John—alludes to the type of popular music that (like a milkshake) is discarded as soon as it has been consumed

Read More

‘La Stupenda’: meaning and origin

the nickname that the Venetian opera audience gave to Joan Sutherland when she sang Handel’s Alcina at the Fenice Theatre on 21 February 1960—Italian ‘è stupenda’ translates as ‘she is stupendous’

Read More

‘stick it up your jumper’: meaning and origin

UK, 1968—British and Australian: expresses indifference towards, or rejection of, a suggestion—from ‘Umpa, Umpa, Stick It Up Your Jumper’, a song recorded in 1935 by The Two Leslies (Leslie Sarony and Leslie Holmes)

Read More