‘to go from zero to hero’ | ‘to go from hero to zero’

USA—(1893) ‘to go from zero to hero’: to experience a sudden increase in popularity or success, especially having previously been in a position of low achievement or esteem—(1899) ‘to go from hero to zero’: to suffer a sudden decline in popularity or success

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‘Spy Wednesday’: meaning and origin

Ireland, 1809—the Wednesday before Easter—refers to the day on which Judas Iscariot formed the intent to betray Jesus—‘spy’ denotes ‘one who spies upon, or watches, a person or persons secretly’, because, from Wednesday onwards, Judas Iscariot secretly sought an opportunity to deliver Jesus to the Jewish authorities

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‘churchyard cough’: meaning and origin

UK, 1677—a bad cough indicative of impending death—with allusion to the churchyard as the site of burial, ‘churchyard’ has been used attributively of something indicative of, or associated with, (impending) death

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a grim phrase: ‘churchyard luck’

In Britain in the 19th and early 20th centuries, the grim proletarian phrase ‘churchyard luck’ denoted the ‘good fortune’ which the parents of a large, poor family experienced by the death of one or more of their children.

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‘every Preston Guild’: meaning and origin

UK, 1892—very rarely—refers to the fact that Preston Guilds are held only once every twenty years—Preston is the administrative centre of Lancashire, a county of north-western England, on the Irish Sea

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‘Queen Anne front and Mary Ann back’

UK and USA, 1889—used of anything that is speciously high-class in appearance, but is commonplace in reality—‘Queen Anne’ means ‘beautiful’, as opposed to ‘Mary Ann’, meaning ‘vile’; ‘low’; ‘mean’

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‘morning, noon and night’: meaning and early occurrences

UK, 1741—all day, incessantly—also, in early use, ‘morn, noon and night’—different from the juxtaposition of the nouns ‘morning’, ‘noon’ and ‘night’, which refers to an action taking place first in the morning, then at noon, and finally at night

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‘another brick in the wall’: meanings and origin

a small component of a much larger structure, system or process; an insignificant individual within a large population or community—commonly associated with ‘Another Brick in the Wall’, the title of a three-part composition by the British band Pink Floyd in their 1979 rock opera ‘The Wall’, but has been used since 1867

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‘a memory like a sieve’: meanings and origin

17th century—contrasts what the mind remembers with what it forgets (with reference to the opposition between the coarser particles, which are retained by a sieve, and the finer ones, which pass through it)—denotes an extremely poor memory (with reference to the fact that a sieve does not hold all its contents)

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