‘until Nelson gets his eye back’: meaning and origin

UK and Ireland—with reference to the fact that Horatio Nelson was blinded in one eye—(1922) ‘until/when Nelson gets his eye back’ is used of a very long time in the future—(1933) the metaphor of Nelson getting his eye back is used of a very small chance of success

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‘every Preston Guild’: meaning and origin

UK, 1892—very rarely—refers to the fact that Preston Guilds are held only once every twenty years—Preston is the administrative centre of Lancashire, a county of north-western England, on the Irish Sea

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‘Queen Anne front and Mary Ann back’

UK and USA, 1889—used of anything that is speciously high-class in appearance, but is commonplace in reality—‘Queen Anne’ means ‘beautiful’, as opposed to ‘Mary Ann’, meaning ‘vile’; ‘low’; ‘mean’

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‘alcoholiday’: meaning and origin

UK, 1877—humorous: a holiday or period of leisure spent drinking alcoholic liquor—blend of the nouns ‘alcohol’ and ‘holiday’—has, in the course of time, been coined on separate occasions by various persons, independently from one another

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notes on ‘Chief Mouser to the Cabinet Office’

UK, 1997—the title given to the official resident cat of the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom at 10 Downing Street, London—‘mouser’, first recorded circa 1440, denotes an animal that catches mice

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‘another brick in the wall’: meanings and origin

a small component of a much larger structure, system or process; an insignificant individual within a large population or community—commonly associated with ‘Another Brick in the Wall’, the title of a three-part composition by the British band Pink Floyd in their 1979 rock opera ‘The Wall’, but has been used since 1867

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origin of ‘how are you off for soap?’

UK, 1816—a meaningless bantering phrase—originated in a print published in June, satirising the fact that a bill on additional taxation on soap had been brought in unobtrusively in May by the Chancellor of the Exchequer

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‘in mothballs’ | ‘out of mothballs’

USA—‘in mothballs’ (1892): in a state or period of inactivity, disuse, reserve, storage or postponement—‘out of mothballs’ (1905): back into activity, into use

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