‘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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‘all roads lead to Rome’: meaning and origin

1793—probably ultimately after post-classical Latin ‘mille viae ducunt homines per saecula Romam…’ (‘a thousand roads lead for ever to Rome the men…’)—the metaphor occurred in A Treatise on the Astrolabe (ca 1391), by Geoffrey Chaucer

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‘Jesus boots’: meanings and origin

American English—1902: bare feet (used of Doukhobors, i.e., members of a Christian sect that originated in Russia, many members of which emigrated to Canada in the late 19th and early 20th centuries)—1965: open-toed leather sandals of a simple or functional style (used of young persons)

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