‘bark mitzvah’: meaning and origin

USA, 1966—a (13th-birthday) party held for a dog—a blend of ‘bark’ (the sharp explosive cry of a dog), and of ‘bar mitzvah’ (the coming-of-age ceremony for a 13-year-old Jewish boy), or ‘bat mitzvah’ (the equivalent ceremony for a Jewish girl)

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‘dine and dash’: meanings and origin

USA, 1975—to hastily or furtively leave a restaurant, cafe, etc., in order to avoid paying for one’s bill—also used as a noun, especially as a modifier—has also been used of meals eaten quickly

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‘flexitarian’: meaning and origin

USA, 1992 (1981?)—adjective: primarily but not strictly vegetarian—noun: a person who follows a primarily but not strictly vegetarian diet—a blend of ‘flexible’ and ‘vegetarian’

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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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‘contronym’: meaning and origin

a word with two opposite or contradictory meanings—coined by Jack Herring in 1962—Joseph T. Shipley had developed the same notion in Playing With Words (1960); he called it ‘autantonym’

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‘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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