‘Jesus Hilton’: meaning and origin

Australia—familiar name of St Vincent’s Private Hospital, Sydney—‘Jesus’ refers to the fact that the hospital is operated by a religious organisation—‘Hilton’ alludes to the hospital’s plushness

Read More

‘a penny soul never came to twopence’

UK, 1844—extreme meanness never made anyone better off—compare Book of Proverbs, 11:24: “There is one who scatters, yet increases more; and there is one who withholds more than is right, but it leads to poverty.”

Read More

‘to sell sand in the Sahara’: meaning and origin

USA, 1907—refers to the supply of something to a place where it is not needed—in particular, ‘could sell sand in the Sahara’ is applied to an efficient salesman, and, by extension, to a persuasive person

Read More

‘pester power’: meaning and origin

USA, 1979—the children’s ability to pressurise their parents into buying something, or doing something for them, by continuing to ask for it until their parents agree to do it—originally referred to television advertising targeting children

Read More