‘a sprat to catch a mackerel’: meaning and origin

1747—a small outlay or risk ventured in the hope or expectation of a significant return—a metaphor from fishing, in which sprats are used as bait to catch larger fish—in early use with the words ‘salmon’ and ‘herring’ instead of ‘mackerel’

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‘Ruby Murray’: meaning and origin

UK, 1983—‘Ruby Murray’, the name of a Northern-Irish singer (1935-1996), is rhyming slang for the noun ‘curry’, denoting a dish of meat, vegetables, etc., cooked in an Indian-style sauce of hot-tasting spices and typically served with rice.

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‘butty’: meanings and origin

Northern England—a filled or open sandwich—originally (1827): a slice of bread spread with butter—composed of ‘butt-’, from the noun ‘butter’, and the suffix ‘-y’, forming diminutive nouns

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‘savoury duck’: meaning and origin

Lancashire, England, 1833—a faggot, a meatball, “a compound of onions, flour, and small pieces of pork” (The Liverpool Echo, 20 August 1880)—probably one of the common dishes humorously named after daintier items of food

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‘blind scouse’: meaning and origin

Liverpool, England, 1939—scouse without meat—“from the general early sense of ‘blind’ meaning ‘deficient’” (Liverpool English Dictionary)—‘scouse’, shortened form of ‘lobscouse’: “a dish of hashed meat stewed with potatoes and onions; an Irish stew” (English Dialect Dictionary)

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‘jam butty’ (police patrol car)

UK, 1971—‘jam butty’ (also ‘jam sandwich’): a colloquial appellation for a police patrol car having a red stripe painted on a white background

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‘Liverpool pantile’: meaning and origin

UK, 1870—a very hard ship’s biscuit—refers to the fact that these sea-biscuits were particularly carried by Liverpool merchant ships; likens the shape and hardness of these sea-biscuits to those of pantiles, i.e. roofing tiles curved to an ogee shape

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‘bullamacow’: meanings and origin

islands of the South Pacific, 1881—cattle, beef, and, by extension, meat of any kind and tinned meat—a combination of the nouns ‘bull’ and ‘cow’

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