‘bread-artist’: meaning and origin

an artist or writer who produces what is considered to be inferior work simply to earn a living—loan translation from German ‘Brotkünstler’—first used in 1827 by Scottish historian and political philosopher Thomas Carlyle in a text about German literature

Read More

‘iron maiden’: meaning and origin

1757, as a loan translation of German ‘Eiserne Jungfer’ (German text published in 1740)—1837, as a loan translation of German ‘Eiserne Jungfrau’—an instrument of torture, supposedly used during the Middle Ages, consisting of an upright coffin-shaped box lined with iron spikes, into which the victim is shut

Read More

‘chain-smoker’: meaning and origin

1885—a person who smokes continually, typically by lighting a cigarette from the stub of the last one smoked—loan translation from German ‘Kettenraucher’—originally referred to Otto von Bismarck

Read More

‘Nacht und Nebel’: meanings and origin

the name of a decree issued in Nazi Germany in December 1941, under which individuals suspected of resistance or other underground activities were arrested and deported suddenly and without trace, frequently during the night—by extension: any situation, event, etc., characterised by mystery, obscurity or secrecy

Read More