origin of ‘handicap’: ‘hand in cap’ (name of a game)

mi-17th century—probably from ‘hand in (the) cap’, used of a sort of game in which players put forfeit money in a cap and then drew from it—later applied to a race between two horses (the better of which carried extra weight), arranged by such rules

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the Page-Three girl of the British tabloid The Sun

British English—‘Page Three’, or ‘Page 3’: a feature which appeared daily on page three of the British tabloid The Sun (London), and included a pin-up picture of a topless or nude young woman; this feature first appeared on 17 November 1970.

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‘pennies from heaven’ and its predecessor

Bing Crosby popularised ‘pennies from heaven’ in the 1936 film and song of the same name, but the phrase already existed; and Abraham Burstein, rabbi and author, had used ‘pennies falling from heaven’ in The Ghetto Messenger in 1928.

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origin of ‘to jump on the bandwagon’

Often used in phrases such as ‘to jump on the bandwagon’, meaning to join the popular or apparently winning side, ‘bandwagon’ denotes a popular party, faction or cause that attracts growing support; its primary meaning is a wagon used for carrying the band in a parade.

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‘happy-clappy’ (cheerful and hand-clapping)

‘happy-clappy’: a member of a Christian group whose worship is marked by enthusiastic participation; composed of ‘happy’ and of the noun ‘clap’ suffixed with ‘-y’—with allusion to the cheerful singing and hand-clapping regarded as typical of charismatic religious services

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meaning and origin of ‘violon d’Ingres’

First recorded in The Bystander (London) on 24 January 1906, this French phrase means ‘hobby, pastime’; it refers to the passion that the French painter Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres (1780-1867) had for playing the violin.

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‘See you later, alligator’ originated in U.S. teenagers’ slang.

    The colloquial see you later, alligator, which originated in American English, is a catchphrase used on parting. The expected response is in, or after, a while, crocodile. The earliest instance that I have found is from Teenagers’ Slang Expressions Are Explained by Columnists, by “Jackie and Jane, Star-Bulletin Teen Columnists”, published in the […]

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the Christian-Latin origin of ‘Noël’

French—from the noun use of the Latin adjective ‘natalis’ (from Christian-Latin ‘natalis dies’, ‘day of birth’), denoting the festival of the nativity of Christ

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the Shakespearean origin of ‘sea change’

from ‘Full Fathom Five’, Ariel’s song to Ferdinand in ‘The Tempest’, by Shakespeare, where ‘sea change’ denotes a change brought about by the action of the sea

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origin of ‘bogart’ (to monopolise)

from ‘Don’t Bogart That Joint’ (1968), song by Fraternity of Man—alludes to the way Humphrey Bogart held a cigarette for long dialogues without smoking it

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