an inquiry into the various meanings of ‘green man’

three meanings: 1/ in outdoor pageants: a man dressed in greenery, representing a wild man of the woods—2/ in inn names and signs: a forester—3/ in medieval English churches: a representation of a man’s face composed of, surrounded by, or sprouting foliage or branches

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origin of the phrase ‘it’s Greek to me’

    The noun Greek has long been used in the sense of unintelligible speech or language, gibberish, and the phrase it’s (all) Greek to me means I can’t understand it at all. This expression is well known from The Tragedie of Julius Cæsar (1599), by the English playwright and poet William Shakespeare (1564-1616): (Folio […]

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meaning and origin of the phrase ‘tit for tat’

  original illustration for The Spider and the Flie (1556), by John Heywood     The phrase tit for tat means an equivalent given in return or retaliation. The expression seems to be a variation of the obsolete and more comprehensible tip for tap, in which both tip and tap meant a light but distinct blow, stroke, hit. The phrase therefore meant blow for […]

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origin and history of the word ‘dandy’

   Dandy Dinmonts by the Haining Loch (1888), by the Scottish artist Robert Smellie     MEANING   a man unduly concerned with looking stylish and fashionable   ORIGIN   As it was originally in use on the Scottish Border at the end of the 18th century, dandy represents perhaps the name Andrew. (From Dandie […]

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