‘grotty’: meaning and origin

UK—a general term of disapproval, meaning ‘unpleasant’, ‘dirty’, ‘nasty’, ‘ugly’, etc.—shortened form of ‘grotesque’—first recorded in (and popularised by) A Hard Day’s Night (1964), a musical comedy film starring the Beatles

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‘Liverpool gentleman’: meaning and origin

UK, 1839—a Liverpudlian, especially as opposed to a Mancunian—from the 19th-century distinction between the Liverpudlians, who were involved in trading, and the Mancunians, who were involved in manufacturing

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‘antwacky’: meaning and origin

UK, 1975—old-fashioned; out of date—perhaps a humorous alteration of the adjective ‘antique’, perhaps punningly after the adjective ‘wacky’—or perhaps derived from ‘Ann Twack’, rhyming slang for ‘crap’

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‘am I bovvered?’: meaning and origin

UK, 2005—used rhetorically to express indifference to, or a lack of concern about, something—originally (2004) a catchline used by Lauren, a teenage girl interpreted by the British comedian Catherine Tate in the British television comedy series The Catherine Tate Show

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‘a fart in a spacesuit’: meaning and origin

UK, 1980—denotes someone or something that is unwelcome, unpopular, etc.—first recorded in a remark by the Scottish comedian Billy Connolly, but perhaps originated in Royal-Navy slang

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‘alcoholiday’: meaning and origin

UK, 1877—humorous: a holiday or period of leisure spent drinking alcoholic liquor—blend of the nouns ‘alcohol’ and ‘holiday’—has, in the course of time, been coined on separate occasions by various persons, independently from one another

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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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notes on ‘Chief Mouser to the Cabinet Office’

UK, 1997—the title given to the official resident cat of the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom at 10 Downing Street, London—‘mouser’, first recorded circa 1440, denotes an animal that catches mice

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‘London to a brick’: meanings and origin

Australia, 1909—(horseracing) a bet is sure to pay off; (in extended use) something is a very strong probability—from the notion that the punter is so confident of winning the bet that he is prepared to put the whole city of London on a horse to win a brick, i.e., a ten-pound note

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