origin of ‘apple polisher’ (a person who curries favour)

USA—‘apple polisher’ (1918): a person who curries favour with a superior; ‘apple polishing’ (1926): (an instance of) currying favour—with reference to the former practice of bringing a shiny apple as a gift to one’s teacher

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origin of ‘Dutch treat’ and ‘to go Dutch’

USA—‘to go Dutch’ (1907): to have every participant pay their own expenses, or share expenses equally—via ‘to go Dutch treat’ (1887), from ‘Dutch treat’ (1873): a meal, etc., at which each participant pays their share of the expenses—from a German practice

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origin of ‘doggy bag’ (to take home leftover food)

USA, 1950s—The noun ‘doggy (or doggie) bag (or pack)’ denotes a bag, provided on request by the management of a restaurant, in which a diner may take home any leftovers; apparently, these leftovers were originally intended for the diner’s pet dog.

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‘maelstrom’ (a whirlpool off the west coast of Norway)

late 16th century—from early modern Dutch ‘maelstrom’ (now ‘maalstroom’)—originally a proper name designating a powerful whirlpool in the Arctic Ocean, off the west coast of Norway, which was formerly supposed to suck in and destroy all vessels within a wide radius

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origin of ‘to have, or to get, egg on one’s face’

USA, 1946—‘to have, or to get, egg on one’s face’: to be, or to get, embarrassed or humiliated by the turn of events—refers either to having eggs thrown at one’s face or to yolk stains left on the face after the careless eating of a soft-boiled egg

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origin of ‘there is no such thing as a free lunch’

USA, 1939—‘there is’, or ‘ain’t’, ‘no such thing as a free lunch’: everything inevitably involves a cost of some kind—literal meaning of ‘free lunch’ (first half of the 19th century): a lunch provided free of charge in a bar, saloon, etc., as a means of attracting customers

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the history of ‘burnsides’, ‘sideburns’ and ‘sideboards’

After Ambrose Burnside, Union general in the U.S. Civil War, ‘burnsides’ (1866) denotes thick side whiskers worn with a moustache and clean-shaven chin; on the pattern of ‘side whiskers’, it was altered to ‘sideburns’ (1875), itself altered to ‘sideboards’ (1882).

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origin of ‘coward’ and of ‘cowardy, cowardy custard’

‘coward’—from Old-French ‘cuard’, probably referring to a frightened animal with its tail between its legs—from ‘cüe’ (Modern French ‘queue’), ‘tail’, and pejorative suffix ‘-ard’ (cf. ‘bastard’)—‘cowardy, cowardy custard’, alliterative nonsensical children’s phrase (19th century)

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How ‘mouse’, ‘muscle’ and ‘mussel’ are interrelated.

Classical Latin ‘muscŭlus’, literally ‘a little mouse’, also denoted ‘a muscle of the body’, especially of the upper arm, from the resemblance of a flexing muscle to the movements made by a mouse; ‘muscŭlus’ was also used in the sense of ‘mussel’.

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‘to use one’s loaf’ (‘to use one’s common sense’)

First recorded in The Leeds Mercury (Leeds, Yorkshire) of Friday 26 August 1938, the phrase ‘to use one’s loaf’ means ‘to use one’s common sense’. Here, ‘loaf’, a shortening of ‘loaf of bread’, is rhyming slang for ‘head’.

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