meanings of ‘up in Annie’s room’

late 1910s: an answer to an enquiry as to the whereabouts of someone who cannot be found—1930s: the space at the top of the dartboard where scores are doubled

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origin of ‘small beer’

‘small beer’: ‘person(s) or matter(s) of little or no importance’ (first use by Shakespeare), from the literal sense ‘beer of a weak, poor or inferior quality’

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origin of ‘to walk one’s chalks’

to go off—19th cent.—from a procedure consisting in making a person walk on a straight line drawn with chalk in order to establish whether they are inebriated

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origin of ‘maudlin’

‘maudlin’: tearfully sentimental – from the Middle-English name ‘Maudelen’, designating Mary Magdalene, a follower of Jesus, customarily represented as weeping

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to wet one’s whistle

In ‘to wet one’s whistle’ (to take a drink), attested in the late 14th century, in Chaucer, ‘whistle’ is jocular for the mouth or the throat.

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origin of ‘moonraker’

moonraker: a native of Wiltshire; from the tale that some of them mistook the reflection of the moon in a pond for a cheese and tried to rake it out.

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origin of ‘barmy’ (crazy)

A ‘barmy’ person has a ‘frothy top’, insubstantial brains, from ‘barm’, the froth that forms on the top of fermenting malt liquors.

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