‘a cup of tea, a Bex and a good lie down’: meanings and origin

Australia, 1965—a panacea; a source of comfort; also indicates the need for a rest to settle down—originated in ‘A Cup of Tea, a Bex and a Good Lie Down’ (1965), a satiric revue by John McKellar—‘Bex’ was a proprietary name for a type of analgesic

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‘to make a Virginia fence’: meaning and origin

North-American colonies, 1737—to walk in a swerving, unstable manner—especially used of an inebriated person’s gait—refers to ‘Virginia fence’, denoting a fence consisting of sets of wooden rails that interlock in a zigzag fashion

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‘dadchelor party’: meaning and origin

USA, 2009—a party given for a man who is about to become a father, attended by men only—‘dadchelor’: a blend of ‘dad’ (i.e., ‘father’) and of ‘bachelor’ in ‘bachelor party’ (a party given for a man who is about to get married, attended by men only)

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‘a grape on the business’: meaning and origin

Australia, 1939—someone whose presence spoils things for others; an odd person out—of unknown origin—perhaps a variant of ‘gooseberry’, as in ‘to play gooseberry’—perhaps an alteration of ‘gripe’—perhaps related in some respect to ‘sour grapes’

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‘to jump one’s horse over the bar’: meaning and origin

The obsolete Australian-English phrase to jump one’s horse over the bar, and its variants, meant to sell a horse for liquor. The following definition is from an unpublished manuscript entitled Materials for a dictionary of Australian Slang, collected from 1900 to 1910, by Alfred George Stephens and S. J. O’Brien—as quoted by Gerald Alfred Wilkes (1927-2020) in A […]

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‘cakeage’: meanings and origin

Australia, 1985—Coined after ‘corkage’, the noun ‘cakeage’ denotes, in a restaurant, the cutting and serving of a cake that has been brought in by a customer from off the premises, hence also a charge levied for this service.

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‘Lushington’: meaning and origin

UK, 1819—has been used in various jocular phrases referring to alcohol consumption—punningly alludes to ‘lush’, which, as a noun, denotes alcoholic drink, and, as a verb, means to consume alcohol—‘the City of Lushington’: a convivial society, consisting chiefly of actors, which met at the Harp Tavern, London

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‘lead in one’s pencil’: meaning and origin

USA, 1927—denotes male vigour, especially sexual—with wordplay on ‘penis’—interestingly, via an alteration of the Latin diminutive ‘pēnĭcillus’, denoting literally a little tail, hence a painter’s brush or pencil, ‘pencil’ is derived from Latin ‘pēnis’, denoting literally a tail, hence the penis

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‘off one’s trolley’: meanings and origin

USA, 1888—deranged, irrational (also, in early use, drunk)—based on the image of a trolley-wheel coming off its trolley-wire—‘trolley’, also ‘trolley-wheel’: a pulley at the end of a pole, for transmitting electric current from an overhead wire to the motor of a trolley-car

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