origin of ‘double Dutch’ and ‘High Dutch’ (‘gibberish’)

‘double Dutch’, 19th century—from ‘Dutch’ in the sense of a language that few people can speak, and ‘double’ as a mere intensifier—‘High Dutch’, 17th century—loan translation from French ‘haut allemand’ (= ‘High German’), used in the sense of gibberish

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‘maelstrom’ (a whirlpool off the west coast of Norway)

late 16th century—from early modern Dutch ‘maelstrom’ (now ‘maalstroom’)—originally a proper name designating a powerful whirlpool in the Arctic Ocean, off the west coast of Norway, which was formerly supposed to suck in and destroy all vessels within a wide radius

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‘urbi et orbi’ (‘to the city (of Rome) and to the world’)

from classical Latin ‘urbī’, dative of ‘urbs’ (city), and ‘orbī’, dative of ‘orbis’ (orb, circle)—in classical Latin, ‘orbis terrarum’, ‘orbis terrae’, the orb, or circle, of the earth, meant by extension the world, since the ancients regarded the earth as a circular plane or disk

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meaning and origin of ‘to raise Cain’

to create trouble or a commotion—USA, 1840—a euphemism for synonymous phrases such as ‘to raise the Devil’ and ‘to raise hell’—from the name of the eldest son of Adam and Eve and murderer of his brother Abel

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‘the hand that rocks the cradle rules the world’

first recorded in a speech by Rev. George W. Bethune, transcribed in ‘Brief abstract of the fourth annual report of board of Managers of the New-York city Colonization Society’, published in ‘The American Christian Instructor’ of April 1836

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the American-English phrase ‘hot under the collar’

Of American-English origin, the colloquial phrase ‘hot under (or ‘in’) the collar’ means ‘extremely exasperated or angry’. The earliest instance that I have found is from The Chicago Tribune (Chicago, Illinois) of 8th July 1869.

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‘preposterous’, or ‘having first what should be coming after’

16th century—from the Latin adjective ‘praeposterus’, composed of the adverb ‘prae’ (‘in front’, ‘before’) and the adjective ‘posterus’ (‘coming after’, ‘following’, ‘next’), so that its literal sense is ‘next (placed) first’, ‘having first what should be coming after’.

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A dunce was originally a follower of John Duns Scotus.

‘dunce’: originally a follower of John Duns Scotus (circa 1265-1308), scholastic theologian; in the 16th century, Scotus’s system was attacked with ridicule by the humanists and the reformers as a farrago of needless entities and useless distinctions

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