‘grey meanie’: meaning and origin

Australia, 1970—a Melbourne City Council parking officer—the adjective ‘grey’ refers to the colour of those officers’ uniform; the noun ‘meanie’ refers to the nastiness displayed by those officers in the accomplishment of their duties

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‘blue-sky talk’ | ‘blue-sky research’

USA—‘blue-sky talk’ 1900—‘blue-sky research’ 1947—the adjective ‘blue-sky’ is used to mean: (in negative sense) fanciful, hypothetical; (in positive sense) creative or visionary—from the notion of a blue sky as a place free from disturbances or difficulties

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‘to be not so green as one is cabbage-looking’

Australia, 1865—to be less of a fool than one appears to be—this phrase plays on two uses of the adjective ‘green’: 1) denoting the colour of growing vegetation, grass, etc. 2) denoting an inexperienced or naive person

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‘like a red rag to a bull’: meaning and origin

‘red rag’—a piece of red cloth used to provoke an animal—hence, figuratively, a source of provocation or annoyance, something which excites violent indignation—the notion occurs in the late 16th century

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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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‘Bloomsday’: meanings and origin

the 16th of June 1904; also the 16th of June of any year, on which celebrations take place, especially in Ireland, to mark the anniversary of the events in Ulysses (1922), by the Irish author James Joyce—Leopold Bloom is one of the central characters in Ulysses, in which all the action takes place on one day, the 16th of June 1904

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‘jam butty’ (police patrol car)

UK, 1971—‘jam butty’ (also ‘jam sandwich’): a colloquial appellation for a police patrol car having a red stripe painted on a white background

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origin of ‘impressionist’ and ‘impressionism’

‘impressionist’ (1875) from French ‘impressionniste’ (1874)—a painter who was an exponent of ‘impressionism’ (1877), a movement in painting developed in France in the last third of the 19th century—French ‘impressionnisme’ may have been coined in 1858

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‘London to a brick’: meanings and origin

Australia, 1909—(horseracing) a bet is sure to pay off; (in extended use) something is a very strong probability—from the notion that the punter is so confident of winning the bet that he is prepared to put the whole city of London on a horse to win a brick, i.e., a ten-pound note

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