‘To go to pot’ was originally a ‘culinary’ phrase.

The phrase ‘to go to pot’ means ‘to be ruined or destroyed’, ‘to go to pieces’, ‘to deteriorate through neglect’. The allusion is to the cutting up of meat into pieces ready for the cooking-pot, as several 16th-century texts make clear.

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British and French Twelfth-Day traditions

Twelfth Day denotes the twelfth day after Christmas, i.e. 6th January, on which the festival of the Epiphany is celebrated, and which was formerly observed as the closing day of the Christmas festivities. (Epiphany denotes the festival commemorating the manifestation of Christ to the Gentiles in the persons of the Magi; via Old-French and Anglo-Norman forms such as epyphane (Modern […]

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‘Zeppelins in a cloud’ (‘sausage and mash’)

early 20th century—‘Zeppelins in a cloud’ and variants mean ‘sausage and mash’—during World War One, the phrase was used as a manner of disregarding the fear caused by the bombing raids carried out by Zeppelin airships

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a WWI phrase: ‘san fairy ann’ (‘that doesn’t matter’)

An expression of indifference to, or resigned acceptance of, a state of affairs, ‘san fairy ann’ jocularly represents the French phrase ‘ça ne fait rien’, meaning ‘that doesn’t matter’. It originated in army use on the Western Front during the First World War.

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origin of ‘baloney’

‘baloney’ or ‘boloney’: ‘humbug’ and ‘nonsense’—USA, 1922—American-English alteration of ‘bologna (sausage)’, a large smoked sausage made of seasoned mixed meats, from the name of Bologna, a city in northern Italy, where these sausages were first made

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‘See you later, alligator’ originated in U.S. teenagers’ slang.

    The colloquial see you later, alligator, which originated in American English, is a catchphrase used on parting. The expected response is in, or after, a while, crocodile. The earliest instance that I have found is from Teenagers’ Slang Expressions Are Explained by Columnists, by “Jackie and Jane, Star-Bulletin Teen Columnists”, published in the […]

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the changing identities of the doryphore

Greek ‘δορυϕόρος’ (‘doruphόros’) meant ‘spearman’; in French, ‘doryphore’ denotes the Colorado beetle and the German occupying forces during WWII; in English, it denotes a pedantic and annoyingly persistent critic.

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origin of ‘Shrovetide’ (‘les jours gras’)

Etymologically, ‘Shrovetide’ denotes the period during which it was customary to attend confession in preparation for Lent—but this period was also marked by feasting before the Lenten fast.

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