‘to pull out all the stops’: meaning and origin

to do everything possible to achieve a result or effect—UK, 1865 (as ‘to pull out a few more stops’)—alludes to pulling out all the stops of an organ in order to produce a full and thrilling sound

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‘Rachmanism’: meaning and origin

the exploitation and intimidation of tenants by unscrupulous landlords—UK, 1963—refers to Peter Rachman, a London landlord whose unscrupulous practices became notorious in the early 1960s

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‘Iron Weathercock’ (as applied to Liz Truss)

UK, 2022— translates French ‘girouette de fer’—a derisive nickname for Liz Truss, in reference both to ‘Iron Lady’ (a nickname for Margaret Thatcher) and to Liz Truss’s changing views on a variety of subjects

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‘shopping trolley’ (as applied to Boris Johnson)

UK—used by Dominic Cummings, from the fact that Johnson is indecisive and veers all over the place on policy—but first used in 2016 by Johnson to refer to himself—however, the image of the shopping trolley is older in British politics

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‘porky’ (rhyming slang for ‘lie’)

In British English, the noun ‘porky’ (also ‘porkie’) is short for ‘porky pie’ (also ‘porkie pie’), which is an alteration of ‘pork pie’, rhyming slang for the noun ‘lie’.

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sense evolution of ‘rhubarb’: from theatre to nonsense

UK—‘rhubarb’ is colloquially used to denote ‘nonsense’—originated in the theatrical practice consisting for a group of actors in repeating the word ‘rhubarb’ to represent an indistinct background conversation or the noise of a crowd

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origin of ‘kunlangeta’ (as applied to Boris Johnson)

Yupik—meaning: “his mind knows what to do but he does not do it”—applied to someone who consistently violates the norms of society in multiple ways—used in January 2022 by Dominic Cummings to describe Boris Johnson

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‘to go to Specsavers’: meaning and origin

UK and Ireland—used of someone who makes a mistake because of poor eyesight—refers to the British optical retail chain Specsavers Optical Group Ltd, in particular to its advertising slogan, ‘should’ve gone to Specsavers’

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‘svengali’: meaning and early occurrences

1894—(depreciative) someone who has a controlling influence over another—from the name of the hypnotist under whose spell Trilby falls in ‘Trilby’ (1894), by George Du Maurier

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