‘happy-clappy’ (cheerful and hand-clapping)

‘happy-clappy’: a member of a Christian group whose worship is marked by enthusiastic participation; composed of ‘happy’ and of the noun ‘clap’ suffixed with ‘-y’—with allusion to the cheerful singing and hand-clapping regarded as typical of charismatic religious services

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meaning and origin of ‘to turn up one’s toes’

The phrase ‘to turn up one’s toes’, meaning ‘to die’, might have originated in the Irish-English phrase ‘to turn up one’s toes to the roots of the daisies’, first found in the passive form ‘with one’s toes turned up to the roots of the daisies’, meaning ‘lying dead’.

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British origin of Gotham, nickname for New York City

Many centuries before becoming a nickname for New York City and the name of a fictional city associated with the Batman stories, Gotham was used in Britain as the name of a (probably fictional) village proverbial for the folly of its inhabitants.

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British and French Twelfth-Day traditions

Twelfth Day denotes the twelfth day after Christmas, i.e. 6th January, on which the festival of the Epiphany is celebrated, and which was formerly observed as the closing day of the Christmas festivities. (Epiphany denotes the festival commemorating the manifestation of Christ to the Gentiles in the persons of the Magi; via Old-French and Anglo-Norman forms such as epyphane (Modern […]

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The literal meaning of ‘cappuccino’ is ‘Capuchin’.

USA, 1948—espresso coffee mixed with steamed milk—borrowed from Italian ‘cappuccino’, literally ‘Capuchin’, because the colour of this type of coffee resembles that of a Capuchin’s habit—cf. French ‘capucin’ (= ‘Capuchin’), a name for the hare, from the colour of the animal’s fur

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European precursors of the American ‘Indian summer’

The name ‘Indian summer’ (late 18th century) reflected the fact that to the Europeans living in the New World, this was a newly-discovered local phenomenon. But similar phenomena were already known in the Old World by various names.

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the changing identities of the doryphore

Greek ‘δορυϕόρος’ (‘doruphόros’) meant ‘spearman’; in French, ‘doryphore’ denotes the Colorado beetle and the German occupying forces during WWII; in English, it denotes a pedantic and annoyingly persistent critic.

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‘Hands down’ originated in horse racing.

19th century—The adverb ‘hands down’ originated in horse racing: a jockey who is winning comfortably is able to lower his hands and relax his hold on the reins.

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origin of ‘Shrovetide’ (‘les jours gras’)

Etymologically, ‘Shrovetide’ denotes the period during which it was customary to attend confession in preparation for Lent—but this period was also marked by feasting before the Lenten fast.

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