origin of ‘neither fish nor fowl’

Origin: for purposes of fasting, food was divided into categories – ‘fish’, the flesh of fish, ‘flesh’, the flesh of land-animals, ‘fowl’, the flesh of birds.

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carrot and stick

early 20th century—refers to the method of tempting a donkey to move forward by dangling a carrot before it, and beating it with a stick if it refuses

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origin of ‘madeleine’

‘madeleine’: originally ‘gâteau à la Madeleine’ (late 18th cent.), perhaps named after French cook Madeleine Paumier – refers also to Swann’s Way, by Proust

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meaning and origin of ‘red herring’

Red herring, used in laying trails for hounds to follow, was misunderstood as a deliberate attempt to distract them, hence the figurative use of ‘red herring’.

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origin of ‘first catch your hare’

‘First catch your hare’ (early 19th cent.): originated in popular humour ascribing this phrase to ‘The Art of Cookery’ (1st published 1747), by Hannah Glasse

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origin of ‘moonraker’

moonraker: a native of Wiltshire; from the tale that some of them mistook the reflection of the moon in a pond for a cheese and tried to rake it out.

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origin of ‘once in a blue moon’

‘Once in a blue moon’ is a development from ‘once in a moon’, meaning ‘once a month’, hence ‘occasionally’—‘blue’ is merely a meaningless fanciful intensive.

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origin of ‘immolate’

The verb ‘immolate’ is from Latin ‘immolare’, meaning, literally, ‘to sprinkle (a victim) with sacrificial meal’, from ‘mola salsa’, ‘salted spelt-meal’.

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Mothering Sunday

The theory that the custom of visiting one’s mother on mid-Lent Sunday derived from the custom of going to one’s mother church on that day is no proven.

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