‘hikikomori’: meanings and origin

Japan 1990s—the extreme avoidance of social contact, especially by adolescent males; a person, typically an adolescent male, who avoids social contact—Japanese ‘hikikomori’ is the nominalised stem of the verb ‘hikikomoru’, meaning ‘to withdraw into seclusion’

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‘everything’s apples’: meaning and origin

Australia, 1941—‘apples’ is used in phrases such as ‘everything’s apples’, meaning ‘everything is all right’—perhaps from ‘apple-pie order’—may have originated in the Australian armed forces’ slang during World War II

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‘aptronymic’, ‘aptonym’, etc.

USA—‘aptronymic’ 1915—‘aptonymic’ 1949—‘aptronym’ 1919—‘aptonym’ 1984—these nouns denote a person’s name that is regarded as amusingly appropriate to their profession or personal characteristics—from the adjective ‘apt’, meaning ‘appropriate in the circumstances’, and the suffixes ‘-onymic’ and ‘-onym’

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‘royal we’: meaning and origin

UK, 1821—‘we’ used in place of ‘I’ by a monarch or other person in power, also (frequently humorously) by any individual—originated as a loan translation from French ‘nous royal’, as used of Napoléon Bonaparte by Madame de Staël in her memoirs published in 1821

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‘to out-Herod Herod’ | ‘to out-Zola Zola’

the phrases built on the pattern ‘to out-X X’, in which ‘X’ is a person’s name, mean to be superior to X in his or her characteristics—the prefix ‘out-’ has been used to form verbs conveying the sense of surpassing, exceeding or beating in the action described by the simple verb

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notes on ‘queuemanship’

1950—the exercise of ploys and tactics in order to minimise time spent waiting in a queue—composed of the noun ‘queue’ and the suffix ‘-manship’—here, ‘-manship’ does not refer to the skills worthy of a role, as in ‘horsemanship’ and ‘statesmanship’, but to the ploys used to gain the upper hand, as in ‘gamesmanship’

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‘squander-bug’: meanings and origin (British usage)

1943—a devilish insect symbolising reckless extravagance and waste—introduced by the National Savings Committee in a government publicity campaign promoting economy—hence: one who is profligate with money or resources

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‘william-nilliam’: meaning and origin

1907—whether one likes it or not; haphazardly—a humorous variant of ‘willy-nilly’, after the personal name ‘William’ (‘William’ being familiarly shortened to ‘Willy’)

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‘lead in one’s pencil’: meaning and origin

USA, 1927—denotes male vigour, especially sexual—with wordplay on ‘penis’—interestingly, via an alteration of the Latin diminutive ‘pēnĭcillus’, denoting literally a little tail, hence a painter’s brush or pencil, ‘pencil’ is derived from Latin ‘pēnis’, denoting literally a tail, hence the penis

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