‘chain-smoker’: meaning and origin

1885—a person who smokes continually, typically by lighting a cigarette from the stub of the last one smoked—loan translation from German ‘Kettenraucher’—originally referred to Otto von Bismarck

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‘square eyes’ | ‘square-eyed’

‘square eyes’ 1955: eyes fancifully imagined as made square by habitual or excessive television viewing; a person characterised as watching too much television—‘square-eyed’ 1953: affected by, or given to, excessive viewing of television

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‘the thick plottens’: meaning and origin

USA, 1883—deliberate transposition of the initial consonants of ‘plot’ and ‘thickens’ in ‘the plot thickens’—‘the plot thickens’, attested in 1672, means: the storyline becomes more complex or convoluted

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‘better than a poke in the eye with a sharp stick’

British and Irish English, 1833—denotes qualified pleasure—also: ‘to give [someone] a poke in the eye (with a — stick)’, meaning to deprecate [someone]—from ‘a poke in the eye’, denoting something undesirable

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‘hospital pass’: meanings and origin

UK, 1965—in sports such as rugby and soccer: a pass to a player likely to be tackled heavily as soon as the ball is received—the implication is that the player who receives the ball may end up in hospital, or, at least, be injured

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‘to go ballistic’: meanings and origin

1980s—to become wildly or explosively angry; to become highly excited or enthusiastic; to intensify rapidly and especially alarmingly—refers to the failure of a guided missile’s guidance system (1966)

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‘beauty sleep’: meanings and origin

UK, 1828—sleep, especially taken before midnight, assumed to be necessary to keep one looking healthy and attractive; any extra sleep—sleep taken before midnight is popularly thought to be most restful

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