‘to be a box of birds’: meaning and origin

Australia and New Zealand, 1939—to be in good spirits, ‘chirpy’—the image is of a boxful of chirping birds (cf. the extended form ‘happy as a bird in a box of birdseed’)—New-Zealand variant ‘to be a box of fluffy ducks’, also ‘to be a box of fluffies’

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‘green thumb’: meaning and origin

British, 1907—denotes considerable talent or ability to grow plants—in this phrase, the adjective ‘green’ refers to the colour of growing vegetation—1921: ‘green-thumbed’ (adjective)

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‘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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‘trolley-dash’: meanings and origin

UK—1977: an event in which the winner of a game or competition is entitled to a set period of free shopping in a supermarket or other store, the object being to place as many products as possible in a shopping trolley during that time—1994: a quick or rushed shopping trip around a supermarket or other store

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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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