‘handbags at ten paces’: meaning and origin

UK, 1978—(soccer players) a confrontation that does not lead to serious fighting—based on the cliché ‘pistols at ten paces’—the substitution of ‘pistols’ with ‘handbags’, which evokes women fighting with their handbags, expresses the histrionic character of the confrontation

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‘frogspawn’ (tapioca pudding)

UK, 1921—‘frogspawn’: a jocular appellation for ‘tapioca pudding’ (also for ‘sago pudding’)—originated in schoolchildren’s slang—refers to the fact that both tapioca pudding and sago pudding very much resemble frogspawn, i.e., a soft substance like jelly which contains the eggs of a frog

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‘soft Mick’: meaning and origin

Lancashire, England, 1939—used in similative and comparative phrases such as ‘as —— as soft Mick’ and ‘more —— than soft Mick’, the noun ‘soft Mick’ (also ‘Soft Mick’) indicates a great quantity or degree

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‘to talk through (the back of) one’s neck’

1890s—to use extravagant words or language not substantiated by fact; to talk nonsense—occurs in particular in stories by the British authors Ernest William Hornung (1866-1921) and Pelham Grenville Wodehouse (1881-1975)

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‘false dawn’: meanings and origin

1809—a transient light preceding the true dawn by about an hour, a phenomenon common in Eastern countries—translates Arabic ‘ṣubḥ kāḏib’—figuratively: a hopeful sign that can prove either illusory or authentic

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