origin of ‘to cut both ways’

to serve both sides of an argument; to have both good and bad effects—England, early 18th century—refers to a sword which has two cutting edges

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origin of ‘the land of Nod’

‘the land of Nod’: a state of sleep—punning allusion to the name of the region to which Cain went after he had killed his brother Abel (Genesis, 4:16)

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tour d’ivoire – ivory tower

1837—used by Sainte-Beuve to describe French poet Vigny’s seclusion in a turret room and preoccupation with inspiration unconnected with practical matters

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origin of ‘Froggy’ (French)

mid-19th cent.—perhaps from a specific application of the general term of abuse ‘Frog’, aided by the shared initial consonant cluster in ‘French’ and ‘frog’

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meanings and origin of ‘Maundy’

originally the washing of poor persons’ feet – from ‘mandatum novum’, ‘a new commandment’, in the discourse following Jesus’ washing of the apostles’ feet

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origin of ‘maudlin’

‘maudlin’: tearfully sentimental – from the Middle-English name ‘Maudelen’, designating Mary Magdalene, a follower of Jesus, customarily represented as weeping

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the straight and narrow

‘The straight and narrow’: allusion to the Sermon on the Mount. ‘Straight’ is an alteration of ‘strait’, meaning ‘so narrow as to make transit difficult’.

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