‘another brick in the wall’: meanings and origin

a small component of a much larger structure, system or process; an insignificant individual within a large population or community—commonly associated with ‘Another Brick in the Wall’, the title of a three-part composition by the British band Pink Floyd in their 1979 rock opera ‘The Wall’, but has been used since 1867

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origin of ‘how are you off for soap?’

UK, 1816—a meaningless bantering phrase—originated in a print published in June, satirising the fact that a bill on additional taxation on soap had been brought in unobtrusively in May by the Chancellor of the Exchequer

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‘man from Mars’: meaning and origin

USA, 1892—a hypothetical observer of human behaviour and society whose perspective would be entirely detached and objective—fictitious prose narratives told of visits either from, or to, Mars, and had for common theme that we are far behind Mars in discoveries in the material and spiritual worlds

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‘wetback’ and its sardonic variant ‘dryback’

USA, 1920: ‘wetback’: an illegal immigrant who crossed the Rio Grande from Mexico to the USA—by extension: any illegal immigrant who entered a foreign country by swimming—Mexico and USA, 1994: ‘espaldas secas’, i.e., ‘dry backs’: the U.S. citizens working in Mexico as a result of the North American Free Trade Agreement

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early figurative uses of ‘domino’

USA, 1954—used of a theory that a political event or development in one country, etc., will lead to its occurrence in others—the image is of a falling domino causing an entire row of upended dominoes to fall

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‘dumbsize’: meaning and origin

USA, 1992—to reduce staff numbers to levels so low that work can no longer be carried out effectively—portmanteau, coined by the Trends Research Institute, combining the adjective ‘dumb’, meaning ‘stupid’, and the verb ‘downsize’

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‘bang for the buck’: meaning and origin

USA, 1953—value for money, return on an investment—originally used of military spending on nuclear weapons—‘bang’ denotes a nuclear explosion, ‘buck’ denotes a dollar

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