‘wogs begin at Calais’: meaning and origin

1947—is used to express an attitude of insularity and hostility to foreigners attributed to the British—a shortening of ‘golliwog’, the derogatory and offensive noun ‘wog’ designates a non-white person

Read More

‘singing milkshake’: meaning and origin

1979—nickname given, in particular, to singer Olivia Newton-John—alludes to the type of popular music that (like a milkshake) is discarded as soon as it has been consumed

Read More

‘where the rubber meets the road’: meanings and origin

USA, 1956—where the important facts or realities lie; where theory is put into practice—originated in the jargon of the advertising business, in which ‘let’s get down (to) where the rubber meets the road’ meant ‘how much is it going to cost?’

Read More

British and Irish uses of ‘more front than’

denotes effrontery—‘front’ denotes self-assurance, but the word that follows ‘than’ puns on ‘front’ in the sense of the façade of a building, a long seafront, etc.—also denotes a well-endowed woman, with reference to ‘front’ in the sense of a woman’s bust

Read More

meaning and origin of ‘nothingburger’ and of ‘mouseburger’

‘nothingburger’: a person or thing of no importance, value or substance—‘mouseburger’: a young woman of unexceptional appearance and talents, regarded as timid, dowdy or mousy—from the use of ‘burger’ as the second element in compounds denoting types of hamburger

Read More