origin of ‘cloud-cuckoo-land’

a realm of fantasy, dreams or impractical notions—1856 as ‘cuckoo-cloud-land’—from the name of the city built by the birds in ‘The Birds’, by Aristophanes

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meaning and origin of the phrase ‘to get the bird’

  detail from the frontispiece to The Life of an Actor (1825), by Pierce Egan     The phrase to get, or to give, the bird means to receive, or to show, derision, to be dismissed, or to dismiss. It originated in theatrical slang and referred to the ‘big bird’, that is, the goose, which hisses as people do when they make a sound of disapproval […]

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origin of ‘one swallow does not make a summer’

  photograph: Wikimedia Commons/Thermos     MEANING   a single fortunate event doesn’t mean that what follows will also be good   ORIGIN   The annual migration of swallows to Europe from southern climes at the end of winter was the subject of a proverb in Ancient Greece: μία χελιδὼν ἔαρ οὐ ποιεῖ, in which […]

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