notes on the phrase ‘sing ’em muck’

1928 in Clara Butt: Her Life-Story, by H. W. Ponder—“Sing ’em muck! It’s all they can understand!”: advice given by Australian soprano Nellie Melba to English contralto Clara Butt, who was about to undertake a tour of Australia

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‘the politics of the warm inner glow’: meaning and origin

Australia, 1981—the ideology of the Australian Labor Party’s left wing, “for whom the ultimate test of a policy is the feeling of personal virtuousness to be derived from its espousal”—Labor politician James McClelland claimed to have coined this phrase

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‘better than a poke in the eye with a sharp stick’

British and Irish English, 1833—denotes qualified pleasure—also: ‘to give [someone] a poke in the eye (with a — stick)’, meaning to deprecate [someone]—from ‘a poke in the eye’, denoting something undesirable

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‘hospital pass’: meanings and origin

UK, 1965—in sports such as rugby and soccer: a pass to a player likely to be tackled heavily as soon as the ball is received—the implication is that the player who receives the ball may end up in hospital, or, at least, be injured

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‘a Jap on Anzac Day’: meanings and origin

Australia, 1973—used of anything that is absolutely unacceptable, and of any disagreeable situation or experience—‘Jap’: derogatory shortening of ‘Japanese’—Anzac Day: commemoration of the landing of the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps in the Gallipoli Peninsula in 1915

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‘more hide than Jessie’: meaning and origin

Australia, 1919—an excess of effrontery—puns on two meanings of ‘hide’ (the skin of an animal – effrontery) and refers to ‘Jessie’, the name of an elephant that was kept in the zoological gardens of Sydney, New South Wales

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‘backronym’: meaning and early occurrences

USA, 1983—an acronym deliberately formed from a phrase whose initial letters spell out a particular word or words, either to enhance memorability or as a fanciful explanation of a word’s origin—blend of the adjective ‘back’ and of the noun ‘acronym’

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