‘Spy Wednesday’: meaning and origin

Ireland, 1809—the Wednesday before Easter—refers to the day on which Judas Iscariot formed the intent to betray Jesus—‘spy’ denotes ‘one who spies upon, or watches, a person or persons secretly’, because, from Wednesday onwards, Judas Iscariot secretly sought an opportunity to deliver Jesus to the Jewish authorities

Read More

‘a penny soul never came to twopence’

UK, 1844—extreme meanness never made anyone better off—compare Book of Proverbs, 11:24: “There is one who scatters, yet increases more; and there is one who withholds more than is right, but it leads to poverty.”

Read More

‘Briticism’: meaning and origin

USA, 1868—coined by U.S. critic Richard Grant White (1822-1885) to denote a word or expression whose original acceptation (preserved in U.S. English) was changed to one that he regarded as debased

Read More