‘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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‘meat and two veg’: meanings and early occurrences

UK—literally, 1919: a dish consisting of meat served with two varieties of vegetable, seen as typical of traditional or unimaginative British cooking—figuratively, 1951: something simple and unsophisticated, or something indicative of simple and unsophisticated tastes

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‘to have both oars in the water’: meaning and origin

USA, 1977—to be mentally stable—usually depreciatively in negative contexts, as ‘not to have both oars in the water’—refers to the necessity of dipping both the oars into the water to keep a rowing boat steady and steer it in a straight line

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‘zero tolerance’: meanings and early occurrences

USA—1940: a policy of non-acceptance with regard to a specified situation, activity, result, substance, etc.—1971: a policy of non-acceptance with regard to abusive, anti-social or criminal behaviour, especially the use of illegal drugs

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