‘deliver a baby’: a consumerist approach to childbirth?

Originally, the mother was the object of ‘deliver’, the image was of delivering (freeing) her from the burden of pregnancy. Nowadays, the healthcare provider or the mother is the subject, the image is of delivering (handing over) the baby, as if it were a package.

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Werewolves were originally in the service of Satan.

Old English ‘werewulf’ (first element identified with Old English ‘wer’, ‘man’) first used for ‘wolf’ to denote a person serving Satan (cf. Gospel of Matthew “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves”)

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origin of ‘Wasp’ (‘white Anglo-Saxon Protestant’)

USA, 1956—acronym from ‘white Anglo-Saxon Protestant’—‘Wasp’, or ‘WASP’: a person who belongs to, or is thought of, as being part of a white, upper middle-class, northern European, Protestant group that dominates economic, political and cultural activity in the USA

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a U.S. political term of the 1920s: ‘backroom boys’

The phrase ‘boys in the backroom’, or ‘backroom boys’, appeared in the 1920s as a U.S. political term denoting persons exercising a surreptitious influence. The Oxford English Dictionary is therefore mistaken in saying that it originally denoted, in 1941, persons engaged in research.

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‘pennies from heaven’ and its predecessor

Bing Crosby popularised ‘pennies from heaven’ in the 1936 film and song of the same name, but the phrase already existed; and Abraham Burstein, rabbi and author, had used ‘pennies falling from heaven’ in The Ghetto Messenger in 1928.

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‘better red than dead’ – ‘better dead than red’

During the Cold War, especially in the context of a possible nuclear war, ‘better red than dead’ was used to warn against uncompromising opposition to communism, while ‘better dead than red’ was used to express unconditional opposition to communism.

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How ‘blue Monday’ came to denote a gloomy Monday.

A calque of German ‘blauer Montag’, ‘blue Monday’ originally denoted a Monday on which people chose not to work as a result of excessive indulgence over the course of the weekend. Under the influence of the adjective ‘blue’ in the sense ‘dismal’, it came to denote a Monday that is depressing or trying.

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‘happy-clappy’ (cheerful and hand-clapping)

‘happy-clappy’: a member of a Christian group whose worship is marked by enthusiastic participation; composed of ‘happy’ and of the noun ‘clap’ suffixed with ‘-y’—with allusion to the cheerful singing and hand-clapping regarded as typical of charismatic religious services

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meaning and origin of ‘to turn up one’s toes’

The phrase ‘to turn up one’s toes’, meaning ‘to die’, might have originated in the Irish-English phrase ‘to turn up one’s toes to the roots of the daisies’, first found in the passive form ‘with one’s toes turned up to the roots of the daisies’, meaning ‘lying dead’.

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