the Bloody Mary before the name existed

Unnamed cocktails consisting of vodka and tomato juice became fashionable in the 1930s before the name ‘Bloody Mary’ was coined in November 1939.

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‘to go to hell – or to heaven – in a handbasket’

‘hell in a handbasket’ (1841), ‘heaven in a handbasket’ (1834) in Irish contexts—‘handbasket’ chosen for alliteration with ‘hell’—‘to go to hell in a handbasket’ meant ‘to go to hell’—‘to go to heaven in a handbasket’ meant ‘to go to heaven’ or ‘to go to hell’

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meaning and origin of ‘red in tooth and claw’

UK, 1857—characterised by savage violence or merciless competition—from Alfred Tennyson’s poem ‘In Memoriam’ (1850), in which ‘red in tooth and claw’ refers to Nature’s brutality

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How poverty and war produced ‘latchkey child’.

originally: a child wearing the house key tied around their neck and staying in the streets while their mother is at work—USA, 1935: a poor Afro-American woman’s child—USA & UK, WWII: a child whose mother was engaged in war industry

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an inquiry into the various meanings of ‘green man’

three meanings: 1/ in outdoor pageants: a man dressed in greenery, representing a wild man of the woods—2/ in inn names and signs: a forester—3/ in medieval English churches: a representation of a man’s face composed of, surrounded by, or sprouting foliage or branches

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the Shakespearean origin of ‘to flutter the dovecotes’

UK, 1831—to startle or upset a sedate or conventionally-minded community—most probably from the following lines in The Tragedy of Coriolanus (circa 1607), by William Shakespeare: “like an eagle in a dove-cote, I | Flutter’d your Volscians in Corioli”

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