‘the order of the boot’: meaning and origin

dismissal from employment—UK, 1882, as ‘the noble order of the boot’—‘the boot’ refers to kicking somebody out—the phrase puns on two acceptations of ‘order’: an authoritative command and an institution founded for the purpose of honouring meritorious conduct

Read More

‘Mr Fixit’: meaning and origin

USA, 1906—a man who fixes something, especially a man who, often illicitly, arranges matters or sets up deals—cf. ‘fixer’: one who, often illicitly, arranges or adjusts matters

Read More

‘Mr Nice Guy’ | ‘no more Mr Nice Guy’

USA—‘Mr Nice Guy’ (1952, first used of Perry Como): a pleasant, selfless, thoughtful person—‘no more Mr Nice Guy’ (1960): used to express that one has decided to stop being considerate of others and instead act exclusively in one’s own self-interest

Read More

‘useful idiot’: meaning and origin

UK, 1864: a naive person who can be manipulated to advance a political agenda—USA, 1948 (1946 as ‘useful innocent’): with reference to a communist strategy designed to gain political power

Read More

‘globaloney’: meaning and origin

USA, 1943—nonsensical or absurd talk or ideas concerning global issues—blend of ‘global’ and ‘baloney’—coined by Clare Boothe Luce in her maiden speech to the House of Representatives

Read More

‘the whole caboodle’: meaning and origin

USA, 1839—the whole group or set of people, animals or things—origin unknown—perhaps from the Dutch expression ‘de hele kit en boedel’, meaning ‘the entire house and everything in it’

Read More

‘the whole boodle’: meaning and origin

USA, 1814—the whole group or set of people, animals or things—corresponds to modern Dutch ‘de hele boel’ (earlier ‘de hele boedel’)—‘boodle’: from Dutch ‘boedel’, estate, property, a large quantity

Read More

‘like a headless chicken’: meaning and origin

USA, 1853—in a panic-stricken and unthinking manner—alludes to the phenomenon whereby a chicken can move about for a short time after decapitation, due to reflex activity of the nervous system

Read More

‘martini lunch’: meaning and origin

USA, 1950—a midday meal, with several martinis taken as aperitifs, enjoyed by businessmen, and/or politicians, and/or federal-government employees—especially in ‘two-martini lunch’ and ‘three-martini lunch’

Read More