‘an egg yesterday and a feather-duster tomorrow’

USA 1907—used of the inanity of life and of the transitoriness of success—originated in the captions to a cartoon known as ‘The Dejected Rooster’, by Mark Fenderson, published by the weekly magazine Life (New York City) in 1907

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‘hellzapoppin’’: meaning and origin

USA, 1896—one-word form representing a colloquial pronunciation of the phrase ‘hell’s a poppin’’ (1875)—meaning: ‘events are unfolding in a chaotic manner’; ‘a state of confusion and disarray is taking hold’—the verb ‘pop’ means ‘to suddenly break open’

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‘lower than a snake’s belly’: meaning and origin

USA, 1893—utterly despicable—jocular extension of ‘lower than a snake’—refers to the use of ‘low’ to mean ‘despicable’, and to the use of ‘snake’ to denote ‘a treacherous or deceitful person’

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‘earworm’: meanings and origin

USA, 1982—a catchy song or melody that keeps repeating in one’s mind, especially to the point of irritation—loan translation from German ‘Ohrwurm’—original meaning (1598): an earwig

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‘to make a Virginia fence’: meaning and origin

North-American colonies, 1737—to walk in a swerving, unstable manner—especially used of an inebriated person’s gait—refers to ‘Virginia fence’, denoting a fence consisting of sets of wooden rails that interlock in a zigzag fashion

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‘aptronymic’, ‘aptonym’, etc.

USA—‘aptronymic’ 1915—‘aptonymic’ 1949—‘aptronym’ 1919—‘aptonym’ 1984—these nouns denote a person’s name that is regarded as amusingly appropriate to their profession or personal characteristics—from the adjective ‘apt’, meaning ‘appropriate in the circumstances’, and the suffixes ‘-onymic’ and ‘-onym’

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