‘the big smoke’: meanings and origins

Australian English, 1848: any urban area (said to be of Aboriginal origin)—Irish and British English, 1862: Dublin and London—alludes to smoke as characteristic of an urban area

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‘the patter of tiny feet’: meanings and origin

1842—The noun ‘patter’ denotes the sound of light footfall, and the phrase ‘the patter of tiny feet’, and its variants, denote the presence of one or several young children, or the imminent birth of a child.

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‘nuppence’: meaning and origin

no money, nothing—UK, 1864, in a text by the British scholar D’Arcy Wentworth Thompson—from ‘n-’ in the determiner ‘no’, meaning ‘not any’, and ‘-uppence’ in ‘tuppence’

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‘squeeze pidgin’: meaning and origin

China, 1849—extortion—from ‘squeeze’, denoting a forced exaction or impost made by a Chinese official or servant, and ‘pidgin’ in its original sense of business

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