‘wood-and-water joey’: meaning and origin

Australia, 1847—an odd-job man—‘wood-and-water’ alludes to the phrase ‘hewer of wood and drawer of water’, designating a labourer of the lowest kind—‘joey’ is perhaps the noun denoting a young kangaroo, and by extension anything young or small

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‘Spam medal’: meaning and origin

military slang, 1944—a medal awarded to all members of a force—especially the 1939-1945 Star, awarded to British service personnel who took part in WWII—refers to the ubiquitousness of Spam as a foodstuff

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‘foolometer’: meaning and origin

a standard or device for the measurement of foolishness or folly—coined by the British author Sydney Smith (1771-1845) in ‘Second Letter to Archdeacon Singleton, Being the Third of the Cathedral Letters’ (London, 1838)

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‘short-arm inspection’: meaning and origin

USA, 1917—originally and chiefly military slang—an inspection of the penis for venereal disease or other infection—the image is of the penis as an additional, but shorter, limb

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‘unshirted hell’: meaning and origin

‘serious trouble’—USA, 1866—from the image of taking off one’s shirt before getting into a fight, and from ‘hell’ in the sense of ‘a severe reprimand’, as in ‘to give someone hell’

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notes on the noun ‘Goddam’

designates an Englishman—originated among the French, from the fact that they regarded the exclamation ‘God damn’ as characteristic of the English—the Middle-French synonym ‘godon’ may be etymologically unrelated

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‘capsize’: meaning, early occurrences and origin

to upset, to overturn—1777—origin unknown—perhaps based on Spanish ‘capuzar’, meaning ‘to sink (a ship) by the head’—or perhaps based on a Provençal compound of ‘cap’, meaning ‘head’

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‘to come a gutser’: meanings and origin

Australian soldiers’ slang, 1917—literally: to fall heavily; figuratively: to suffer a failure or defeat—‘gutser’ (Scotland, 1901): originally denoted a belly flop—derived from ‘gut’ in the sense of the belly

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