‘spud-bashing’: meanings and origin

UK, WWII, army slang—‘spud-bashing’ (noun): potato-peeling; ‘spud-bash’ (verb): to peel potatoes; ‘spud-basher’ (noun): one who peels potatoes—those words have also been used with reference to potato-digging

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figurative uses of ‘hardy annual’

The noun ‘hardy annual’ denotes a plant that can withstand freezing temperatures and which completes its life cycle within a year. In British English, this noun is used figuratively of a thing or a person that reappears continually or at regular intervals.

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‘Noddy suit’: meanings and origin

British-Army slang, 1972: a suit of protective clothing for use in nuclear, biological or chemical attacks—by extension: a suit of protective clothing for use by agricultural employees working with chemical sprays—perhaps refers to ‘Noddy’, a character in the writings of Enid Blyton

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‘the land of fruits and nuts’: meanings and origin

U.S.A, 1932—also ‘the land of nuts and fruits’—a humorous, sometimes derogatory, appellation for the U.S. state of California—refers to California’s agricultural bounties and to Californians regarded as being ‘nuts’, i.e., crazy

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‘flat out like a lizard drinking’: meanings and origin

Australia, 1930—a humorous extended form of ‘flat out’, meaning ‘with the maximum speed or effort’ (apparently with wordplay on ‘flat out’, meaning ‘lying stretched out’)—has occasionally been used in the opposite sense

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‘the first cab off the rank’: meanings and origin

Australia, 1952—the first in line; the first in a series of people or things to arrive or appear; the first to take advantage of an opportunity—refers to cab ranks (i.e., designated areas where taxicabs line up to wait for business), which operate on a first come, first served system

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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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‘Hughie’ (Australian usage): meanings and origin

1906—a familiar name jocularly given to a fanciful deity reputed to be in command of the weather—especially occurs in the phrase ‘send it down, Hughie!’, used to ask that deity to send the rain down from the heavens—also, in the surfers’ lingo: the god of the waves

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‘boustrophedon’: meaning and origin

1762—(especially of an ancient style of writing): having alternate lines written from left to right and from right to left—from the Greek adverb ‘βουστροφηδόν’, meaning literally ‘as an ox turns (in ploughing)’, with allusion to the course of the plough in successive furrows

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