‘to judge a book by its cover’: meaning and origin

USA, 1837—to make assumptions about someone or something based on appearance or on superficial characteristics—the metaphor occurs in the preface to ‘Truth in Fiction: Or, Morality in Masquerade. A Collection of Two hundred twenty five Select Fables of Æsop, and other Authors’ (London, 1708), by Edmund Arwaker

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‘bread and roses’: meaning and origin

USA, 1911—used to express the belief that everyone should have access not only to basic sustenance, but also to the finer things in life, such as education, art, literature, etc.—adapted from ‘Bread for all, and Roses too’ (1911), a slogan in the fight for women’s rights

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‘red-light district’: meaning and origin

USA, 1893—the part of a town or city in which prostitution and other commercial sexual activities are concentrated—originally used of Louisville, Kentucky—from the use of a red light as a sign outside a brothel

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‘to go from zero to hero’ | ‘to go from hero to zero’

USA—(1893) ‘to go from zero to hero’: to experience a sudden increase in popularity or success, especially having previously been in a position of low achievement or esteem—(1899) ‘to go from hero to zero’: to suffer a sudden decline in popularity or success

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‘Spy Wednesday’: meaning and origin

Ireland, 1809—the Wednesday before Easter—refers to the day on which Judas Iscariot formed the intent to betray Jesus—‘spy’ denotes ‘one who spies upon, or watches, a person or persons secretly’, because, from Wednesday onwards, Judas Iscariot secretly sought an opportunity to deliver Jesus to the Jewish authorities

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‘churchyard cough’: meaning and origin

UK, 1677—a bad cough indicative of impending death—with allusion to the churchyard as the site of burial, ‘churchyard’ has been used attributively of something indicative of, or associated with, (impending) death

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