‘better red than dead’ – ‘better dead than red’

During the Cold War, especially in the context of a possible nuclear war, ‘better red than dead’ was used to warn against uncompromising opposition to communism, while ‘better dead than red’ was used to express unconditional opposition to communism.

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How ‘blue Monday’ came to denote a gloomy Monday.

A calque of German ‘blauer Montag’, ‘blue Monday’ originally denoted a Monday on which people chose not to work as a result of excessive indulgence over the course of the weekend. Under the influence of the adjective ‘blue’ in the sense ‘dismal’, it came to denote a Monday that is depressing or trying.

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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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the disputed origin of ‘tantrum’

18th century—origin unknown—perhaps originally imitative and comparable to, or derived from, ‘tantara’, denoting the sound of a trumpet, hence an uproar—or from obsolete French ‘trantran’, synonym of ‘tantara’

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the liturgical origin of ‘Quasimodo’

in full ‘Quasimodo Sunday’: the Sunday after Easter—from the opening words of the Latin introit for that day, ‘quasimodo geniti infantes’, ‘as newborn babies’

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the creation of the word ‘folklore’

The word ‘folklore’ was coined in 1846 by the British author William John Thoms, inspired by Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm’s anthology of German fairy tales.

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the uncertain origin of ‘cockney’

originally ‘pampered child’, later ‘town-dweller regarded as affected or puny’—origin uncertain—probably not the same word as ‘cokeney’, literally ‘cock’s egg’

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