‘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

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‘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

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‘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

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‘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

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‘Vatican roulette’: meaning and origin

USA, 1957—the rhythm method of birth control, as permitted by the Roman Catholic Church—with allusion to the unpredictable efficacy of this contraceptive method: from ‘Vatican’, denoting the authority of the Roman Catholic Church, and ‘Russian roulette’

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The meaning of ‘temptation’ in the Lord’s Prayer

[Preliminary note: All the biblical quotations in English are from the New International Version (2011).] Le Notre-Père, the French version of the Lord’s Prayer, was revised in La Bible : Traduction officielle liturgique (Paris: Éditions Mame, 2013), the official liturgical translation of the Bible. French-speaking Catholics used to say: Et ne nous soumets pas à la […]

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