‘to study the history of the four kings’ (to play cards)

from ‘the history of the four kings’, punning on ‘the four kings’ (the four playing cards in a pack, each bearing a representation of a king) and ‘the Book of Kings’ (the name of two, formerly four, books of the Old Testament)

Read More

‘charity dame’ | ‘charity moll’: meaning and origin

Australia—‘charity dame’ 1949—‘charity moll’ 1962—an amateur prostitute who charges less than the usual rate—from ‘Moll’, pet form of the female forename ‘Mary’, the noun ‘moll’ has long been used to designate a prostitute

Read More

‘to pile Pelion upon Ossa’: meanings and origin

1609—to add to what is already great, also to add difficulty to difficulty—Pelion and Ossa are two mountains in Thessaly—in Greek mythology, two giants, Otus and Ephialtes, tried to pile Pelion and Ossa on Olympus in order to reach the gods and overthrow them

Read More

‘to drink the Kool-Aid’: meanings and origin

USA, 1978—to commit suicide; to demonstrate unquestioning obedience or loyalty—alludes to a mass suicide, in 1978, by members of the Peoples’ Temple in Jonestown, Guyana, who drank a cyanide-laced drink thought to be similar to Kool-Aid

Read More

‘Johnny Arab’: meaning and origin

UK, 1920—an Arab man—‘Johnny’, a pet form of ‘John’, is used, with modifying word, to designate a person, especially a man, of the type, group, profession, etc., specified

Read More

‘Red Sea pedestrian’: meaning and origin

UK, 1912—humorous: a Jewish person—refers to the Crossing of the Red Sea, as recounted in the Book of Exodus—coined on various occasions by different persons, independently from each other

Read More