‘trigger-happy’: meaning and origin

USA, 1942—over-ready to shoot at anything at any time or on slight provocation—during and following WWII, ‘happy’ was used as the second element in compound adjectives relating to mental instability associated with the first element

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‘rocking-chair job’: meaning and origin

USA—1901 as ‘rocking-chair work’—1907 as ‘rocking-chair job’—a sinecure, i.e., an office or position providing an income or other advantage but requiring little or no work

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‘the land of fruits and nuts’: meanings and origin

U.S.A, 1932—also ‘the land of nuts and fruits’—a humorous, sometimes derogatory, appellation for the U.S. state of California—refers to California’s agricultural bounties and to Californians regarded as being ‘nuts’, i.e., crazy

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‘handbags at ten paces’: meaning and origin

UK, 1978—(soccer players) a confrontation that does not lead to serious fighting—based on the cliché ‘pistols at ten paces’—the substitution of ‘pistols’ with ‘handbags’, which evokes women fighting with their handbags, expresses the histrionic character of the confrontation

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‘dine and dash’: meanings and origin

USA, 1975—to hastily or furtively leave a restaurant, cafe, etc., in order to avoid paying for one’s bill—also used as a noun, especially as a modifier—has also been used of meals eaten quickly

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‘to talk through (the back of) one’s neck’

1890s—to use extravagant words or language not substantiated by fact; to talk nonsense—occurs in particular in stories by the British authors Ernest William Hornung (1866-1921) and Pelham Grenville Wodehouse (1881-1975)

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‘get on your bike’ (exhortation to take action)

UK—since 1981, has been associated with a speech by the Employment Secretary, Norman Tebbit, at the Conservative Party conference, in which he exhorted the unemployed to go and find work, like his father, who had “got on his bike and looked for work”

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