the various uses of ‘out of one’s skull’

USA—‘not part of a particular exclusive group’, 1955—‘out of one’s mind’, 1958—‘smashed out of one’s skull’ (= ‘drunk’, 1963)—‘bored out of one’s skull’, 1967

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meaning and origin of ‘forty winks’

early 19th century—probably a jocular application of ‘forty’ as an indefinite term for a large number—‘wink’ in the sense of ‘a closing of the eyes for sleep’

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‘to see a man about a dog’

UK, 1865—vague excuse for leaving to keep an undisclosed appointment, or, now frequently, to go to the toilet—perhaps originally with allusion to dogfighting

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‘famous for fifteen minutes’

apparently misattributed to Andy Warhol in the book published for the first European retrospective of his work at the Moderna Museet, Stockholm, Sweden, in 1968

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origin of ‘a little bird told me’

1711 in a letter by Jonathan Swift—perhaps from Ecclesiastes, 10:20: “a bird of the air shall carry the voice; and that which hath wings, shall tell the matter”

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origin of ‘one’s best bib and tucker’

18th century, of women’s clothes—‘bib’: a piece of cloth worn between throat and waist; ‘tucker’: a piece of lace or linen worn in or around the top of a bodice

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