the surprising origin of ‘under wraps’ (concealed)

USA, 1910s—originated in horse racing: ‘under wraps’ is used of a horse that the rider is holding back and intentionally keeping from running at top speed—not from the wrapping placed over newly developed machines before their official launch

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origin of ‘to crawl out of the woodwork’

USA, 1930—‘to crawl, or to come, out of the woodwork’: of an unpleasant or unwelcome person or thing, to come out of hiding, to emerge from obscurity; the image is of vermin or insects crawling out of crevices or other hidden places in a building

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origin of ‘apple polisher’ (a person who curries favour)

USA—‘apple polisher’ (1918): a person who curries favour with a superior; ‘apple polishing’ (1926): (an instance of) currying favour—with reference to the former practice of bringing a shiny apple as a gift to one’s teacher

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How a murder popularised ‘sugar daddy’ in 1923.

from ‘heavy-sugar daddy’ (USA, 1923), popularised by the murder of Anna Keenan (a.k.a. Dorothy King), who was a ‘heavy-sugar baby’, i.e., a woman ‘coated’ with ‘sugar’ (i.e., money) by a ‘daddy’ (i.e., an older man)

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origin of ‘decent’ (sufficiently clothed to see visitors)

USA, 1911—‘to be decent’: ‘to be sufficiently clothed to see visitors’; often as a coy or jocular enquiry ‘are you decent?’—originated in the question asked when knocking at the door of an actor’s or actress’s dressing room in a theatre

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origin of ‘the end of civilization as we know it’

first recorded in the United Kingdom in 1914, with reference to the civilizational implication of the German invasion of Belgium at the beginning of World War One; therefore, not first used by Orson Welles in Citizen Kane (1941)

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origin of ‘Dutch treat’ and ‘to go Dutch’

USA—‘to go Dutch’ (1907): to have every participant pay their own expenses, or share expenses equally—via ‘to go Dutch treat’ (1887), from ‘Dutch treat’ (1873): a meal, etc., at which each participant pays their share of the expenses—from a German practice

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origin of ‘Brownie’ (Girl Scout or Girl Guide)

1916—from ‘brownie’, i.e. a benevolent elf that supposedly haunts houses and does housework secretly—not from the fact that the uniform of the junior Girl Scouts and Girl Guides is brown

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origin of ‘doggy bag’ (to take home leftover food)

USA, 1950s—The noun ‘doggy (or doggie) bag (or pack)’ denotes a bag, provided on request by the management of a restaurant, in which a diner may take home any leftovers; apparently, these leftovers were originally intended for the diner’s pet dog.

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