‘Nacht und Nebel’: meanings and origin

the name of a decree issued in Nazi Germany in December 1941, under which individuals suspected of resistance or other underground activities were arrested and deported suddenly and without trace, frequently during the night—by extension: any situation, event, etc., characterised by mystery, obscurity or secrecy

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‘Energizer bunny’: meaning and origin

USA, 1990—a persistent or indefatigable person or phenomenon—refers to ‘Energizer Bunny’, the name of a battery-operated toy rabbit represented as never running out of energy, featured from 1988 in a television advertising campaign for batteries

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‘a fox in a forest fire’: meanings and origin

USA, 1931—originated in sporting parlance—emphasises the meaning of the adjective it immediately follows—that adjective usually is ‘hot’ (used literally or figuratively) or describes agitation, erraticism

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‘“Hell!” said the duchess’: meanings and origin

originated (1915) as the jocular beginning, destined to grip the reader’s attention, of a hypothetical novel or short story—soon (1919) came to be also used either without precise meaning or as a jocular exclamation

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‘not to have two yachts to rub together’

applied to a rich person complaining of having insufficient means of existence; to a person who is merely free from financial worry—USA, 1936—coined humorously after ‘not to have two pennies to rub together’

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‘car-crash television’: meaning and origin

television programmes that are gratuitously shocking or sensational, or of poor quality—from their eliciting in the viewer a similar horrified fascination to that experienced by people watching scenes of cars crashing

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