‘nuppence’: meaning and origin

no money, nothing—UK, 1864, in a text by the British scholar D’Arcy Wentworth Thompson—from ‘n-’ in the determiner ‘no’, meaning ‘not any’, and ‘-uppence’ in ‘tuppence’

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‘to drink the Kool-Aid’: meanings and origin

USA, 1978—to commit suicide; to demonstrate unquestioning obedience or loyalty—alludes to a mass suicide, in 1978, by members of the Peoples’ Temple in Jonestown, Guyana, who drank a cyanide-laced drink thought to be similar to Kool-Aid

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‘Vatican roulette’: meaning and origin

USA, 1957—the rhythm method of birth control, as permitted by the Roman Catholic Church—with allusion to the unpredictable efficacy of this contraceptive method: from ‘Vatican’, denoting the authority of the Roman Catholic Church, and ‘Russian roulette’

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‘all roads lead to Rome’: meaning and origin

1793—probably ultimately after post-classical Latin ‘mille viae ducunt homines per saecula Romam…’ (‘a thousand roads lead for ever to Rome the men…’)—the metaphor occurred in A Treatise on the Astrolabe (ca 1391), by Geoffrey Chaucer

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‘Jesus boots’: meanings and origin

American English—1902: bare feet (used of Doukhobors, i.e., members of a Christian sect that originated in Russia, many members of which emigrated to Canada in the late 19th and early 20th centuries)—1965: open-toed leather sandals of a simple or functional style (used of young persons)

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‘parson’s week’: meanings and origin

UK, 1772—a holiday period of thirteen days, from Monday to the Saturday of the following week, humorously regarded as the longest holiday available to a parson who was excused one Sunday’s duties—later also: a holiday period of six days, from Monday to the Saturday of the same week

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