‘holier-than-thou’: meaning and origin

self-righteously or sanctimoniously virtuous, or professing to be so—UK, 1834—alludes to the Book of Isaiah, 65:5: “Stand by thyself, come not near to me; for I am holier than thou.”

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notes on ‘no joy without alloy’

also ‘no joy without annoy’—meaning: there is a trace of trouble or difficulty in every pleasure—was already a common proverb in the late sixteenth century

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‘to study the history of the four kings’ (to play cards)

from ‘the history of the four kings’, punning on ‘the four kings’ (the four playing cards in a pack, each bearing a representation of a king) and ‘the Book of Kings’ (the name of two, formerly four, books of the Old Testament)

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‘charity dame’ | ‘charity moll’: meaning and origin

Australia—‘charity dame’ 1949—‘charity moll’ 1962—an amateur prostitute who charges less than the usual rate—from ‘Moll’, pet form of the female forename ‘Mary’, the noun ‘moll’ has long been used to designate a prostitute

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‘Red Sea pedestrian’: meaning and origin

UK, 1912—humorous: a Jewish person—refers to the Crossing of the Red Sea, as recounted in the Book of Exodus—coined on various occasions by different persons, independently from each other

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The meaning of ‘temptation’ in the Lord’s Prayer

[Preliminary note: All the biblical quotations in English are from the New International Version (2011).] Le Notre-Père, the French version of the Lord’s Prayer, was revised in La Bible : Traduction officielle liturgique (Paris: Éditions Mame, 2013), the official liturgical translation of the Bible. French-speaking Catholics used to say: Et ne nous soumets pas à la […]

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‘Eve-teasing’: meaning and origin

India, 1958—euphemistic appellation for verbal or physical sexual harassment of a woman by a man in a public place—refers to Eve, the first woman in the biblical account of the creation of the world, who is seen as a temptress

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