‘green fingers’: meaning and origin

British, 1906—denotes considerable talent or ability to grow plants—in this phrase, the adjective ‘green’ refers to the colour of growing vegetation—1914: ‘green-fingered’ (adjective)

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‘to be not so green as one is cabbage-looking’

Australia, 1865—to be less of a fool than one appears to be—this phrase plays on two uses of the adjective ‘green’: 1) denoting the colour of growing vegetation, grass, etc. 2) denoting an inexperienced or naive person

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‘off one’s trolley’: meanings and origin

USA, 1888—deranged, irrational (also, in early use, drunk)—based on the image of a trolley-wheel coming off its trolley-wire—‘trolley’, also ‘trolley-wheel’: a pulley at the end of a pole, for transmitting electric current from an overhead wire to the motor of a trolley-car

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‘Manhattanhenge’: meaning and origin

a phenomenon in which the sun rises or sets in alignment with the streets that run east to west on the street grid of Manhattan, a borough of New York City—from ‘Manhattan’ and ‘-henge’, in ‘Stonehenge’, the name of a megalithic monument in England—coined by U.S. astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson

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‘home is where the heart is’: meaning and origin

means that the place with which one has the strongest emotional connection is the place that one regards as home—first occurred in October 1828, in an unsigned poem published in The Winter’s Wreath, an annual published in London

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‘iron maiden’: meaning and origin

1757, as a loan translation of German ‘Eiserne Jungfer’ (German text published in 1740)—1837, as a loan translation of German ‘Eiserne Jungfrau’—an instrument of torture, supposedly used during the Middle Ages, consisting of an upright coffin-shaped box lined with iron spikes, into which the victim is shut

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‘budgie smugglers’: meaning and origin

Australia, 1998—a pair of short, tight-fitting men’s swimming trunks—refers to the appearance of the male genitals in figure-hugging trunks—‘budgie’: colloquial abbreviation of ‘budgerigar’, denoting a small Australian parrot

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