‘squander-bug’: meanings and origin (British usage)

1943—a devilish insect symbolising reckless extravagance and waste—introduced by the National Savings Committee in a government publicity campaign promoting economy—hence: one who is profligate with money or resources

Read More

‘swellegant’: meaning and origin

USA, 1901—wonderfully stylish, elegant or fashionable—a blend of ‘swell’ and ‘elegant’—popularised by its use in the song Well, Did You Evah!, interpreted by Bing Crosby and Frank Sinatra in the 1956 film High Society

Read More

‘beetle-crusher’: meaning and origin

denotes a foot or a boot, especially a big one—1856, in the caption to a cartoon by John Leech, published in Punch (London, England): “A vulgar and disgusting expression, implying that a foot is big enough, and flat enough, to kill Black-beetles”

Read More

‘Queen Anne front and Mary Ann back’

UK and USA, 1889—used of anything that is speciously high-class in appearance, but is commonplace in reality—‘Queen Anne’ means ‘beautiful’, as opposed to ‘Mary Ann’, meaning ‘vile’; ‘low’; ‘mean’

Read More

‘grotty’: meaning and origin

UK—a general term of disapproval, meaning ‘unpleasant’, ‘dirty’, ‘nasty’, ‘ugly’, etc.—shortened form of ‘grotesque’—first recorded in (and popularised by) A Hard Day’s Night (1964), a musical comedy film starring the Beatles

Read More

‘antwacky’: meaning and origin

UK, 1975—old-fashioned; out of date—perhaps a humorous alteration of the adjective ‘antique’, perhaps punningly after the adjective ‘wacky’—or perhaps derived from ‘Ann Twack’, rhyming slang for ‘crap’

Read More

‘am I bovvered?’: meaning and origin

UK, 2005—used rhetorically to express indifference to, or a lack of concern about, something—originally (2004) a catchline used by Lauren, a teenage girl interpreted by the British comedian Catherine Tate in the British television comedy series The Catherine Tate Show

Read More

‘Piccadilly window’: meaning and origin

UK, 1897—‘Piccadilly window’: a monocle—hence ‘Piccadilly-windowed’: monocled—alludes to ‘Piccadilly’, the name of a street and of a circus (i.e., a rounded open space) in London

Read More

‘Alexandra limp’: meaning and origin

UK, 1869—a limping gait affected by some members of fashionable society in imitation of Alexandra of Denmark, who developed a limp after contracting rheumatic fever in 1867—‘Alexandra’ was used to form compounds designating things popularised by, or associated with, Alexandra of Denmark, consort of Edward VII

Read More