‘lead in one’s pencil’: meaning and origin

USA, 1927—denotes male vigour, especially sexual—with wordplay on ‘penis’—interestingly, via an alteration of the Latin diminutive ‘pēnĭcillus’, denoting literally a little tail, hence a painter’s brush or pencil, ‘pencil’ is derived from Latin ‘pēnis’, denoting literally a tail, hence the penis

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an Australian use of ‘boots under the bed’

has been used to denote evidence of a de facto relationship affecting a woman’s eligibility for Social-Security benefits—refers to past practices of field officers inspecting homes and bedrooms

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‘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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‘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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‘budgie smugglers’: meaning and origin

Australia, 1998—a pair of short, tight-fitting men’s swimming trunks—refers to the appearance of the male genitals in figure-hugging trunks—‘budgie’: colloquial abbreviation of ‘budgerigar’, denoting a small Australian parrot

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‘Buckley’s (chance): meaning and origin

Australia, 1887—a forlorn hope, no prospect whatever—may refer to the British convict William Buckley (1780-1856), who escaped from custody in 1803 and lived for thirty-two years with Aboriginal people

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‘to spin a yarn’: meaning and origin

UK and USA, 1816—to tell a long, far-fetched story—of nautical origin? (perhaps alludes to making ropes from lengths of yarn on board ship: the men would have told one another stories while performing this long and tedious task)

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‘Paris syndrome’: meaning and origin

1992—the culture shock experienced by an individual (typically a Japanese) who, when visiting, or living in, Paris, realises that this city does not fulfil their idealised expectations—apparently a loan translation from Japanese ‘Pari shōkōgun’, coined by Japanese psychiatrist Hiroaki Ōta

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