‘like billy-o’: meaning and origin

UK, 1860—very much, very intensely—‘billy-o’ occurs only in this phrase—it is apparently composed of ‘Billy’, pet form of the male forename ‘William’, and the suffix ‘-o’, used to form slang and colloquial nouns, adjectives and interjections

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‘Asbomania’: meaning and origin

UK, 2005—the perceived indiscriminate and excessive use by the authorities of anti-social behaviour orders—apparently coined by Álvaro Gil-Robles, the Council of Europe’s Commissioner for Human Rights—‘Asbo’: acronym from the initial letters of ‘anti-social behaviour order’

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‘to beat the Dutch’: meaning and origin

USA, 1775—to do or say something remarkable or startling—the precise underlying notion in the choice of ‘Dutch’ is not clear—‘Dutch’ occurs in a number of derogatory or derisive English phrases

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‘Jesus Hilton’: meaning and origin

Australia—familiar name of St Vincent’s Private Hospital, Sydney—‘Jesus’ refers to the fact that the hospital is operated by a religious organisation—‘Hilton’ alludes to the hospital’s plushness

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‘Vaseline Valley’: meaning and origin

Australia, 1982—a stretch of Oxford Street, in Sydney, which is the city’s main gay district—refers to the use of Vaseline to ease anal intercourse, and based on the alliteration in /v/

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‘spit and sawdust’: meaning and origin

UK, 1928—of a public-house: very basic and lacking in comforts—refers to the former practice of covering the floor of a public-house with sawdust into which customers spat

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