‘bark mitzvah’: meaning and origin

USA, 1966—a (13th-birthday) party held for a dog—a blend of ‘bark’ (the sharp explosive cry of a dog), and of ‘bar mitzvah’ (the coming-of-age ceremony for a 13-year-old Jewish boy), or ‘bat mitzvah’ (the equivalent ceremony for a Jewish girl)

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‘false dawn’: meanings and origin

1809—a transient light preceding the true dawn by about an hour, a phenomenon common in Eastern countries—translates Arabic ‘ṣubḥ kāḏib’—figuratively: a hopeful sign that can prove either illusory or authentic

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‘open and shet, sign o’ more wet’: meaning and origin

USA (New England), 1868—alternately sunny and cloudy conditions usually indicate rain—the adjective ‘shet’ is a variant of ‘shut’—it was perhaps in order to provide a rhyme for the adjective ‘wet’ that the variant ‘shet’ was chosen in the proverb

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‘to judge a book by its cover’: meaning and origin

USA, 1837—to make assumptions about someone or something based on appearance or on superficial characteristics—the metaphor occurs in the preface to ‘Truth in Fiction: Or, Morality in Masquerade. A Collection of Two hundred twenty five Select Fables of Æsop, and other Authors’ (London, 1708), by Edmund Arwaker

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‘bread and roses’: meaning and origin

USA, 1911—used to express the belief that everyone should have access not only to basic sustenance, but also to the finer things in life, such as education, art, literature, etc.—adapted from ‘Bread for all, and Roses too’ (1911), a slogan in the fight for women’s rights

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