13th May 2022. Reading time 6 minutes.
1609—to add to what is already great, also to add difficulty to difficulty—Pelion and Ossa are two mountains in Thessaly—in Greek mythology, two giants, Otus and Ephialtes, tried to pile Pelion and Ossa on Olympus in order to reach the gods and overthrow them
28th Aug 2019. Reading time 14 minutes.
an extremely beautiful woman—alludes to the description of Helen of Troy in Christopher Marlowe’s ‘Doctor Faustus’—has given rise to countless adaptations
11th Aug 2019. Reading time 10 minutes.
e.g. ‘one eye at St. Paul’s and the other at Charing-cross’, ‘un œil aux champs et l’autre à la ville’ (one eye at the fields and the other at the town)
13th Jul 2018. Reading time 7 minutes.
denotes extreme quickness of movement—the use of ‘greased’ likens lightning to a machine that a mechanic has lubricated in order to minimise the friction and make it run easily
5th Jun 2018. Reading time 7 minutes.
primary meaning of ‘boggle’ was ‘to start with fright’, originally with reference to horses—probably related to the nouns ‘bogle’ and ‘bogey’, denoting an evil spirit such as horses are reputed to see
26th Jun 2017. Reading time 6 minutes.
The phrase ‘in a nutshell’ originated in a story told by Pliny of a copy of Homer’s ‘Iliad’ supposedly small enough to be enclosed in the shell of a nut.