‘to have two left feet’ and synonymous phrases

‘to have two left feet’: to be clumsy or awkward—postdates synonymous ‘to have two left hands’ (1815), loan translation of French ‘avoir deux mains gauches’—‘left’ has long been associated with inferior performance, awkwardness and insincerity

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‘to go to Specsavers’: meaning and origin

UK and Ireland—used of someone who makes a mistake because of poor eyesight—refers to the British optical retail chain Specsavers Optical Group Ltd, in particular to its advertising slogan, ‘should’ve gone to Specsavers’

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‘funny bone’: meaning and origin

UK, 1826—a place behind the bony point of the elbow at which a knock results in a sensation of tingling pain—in early use was perhaps partly punning on the homophones ‘humerus’ and ‘humorous’

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‘in a cleft stick’: meaning and origin

UK, 1710—in a situation in which any action one takes will have adverse consequences—‘cleft’, past participle of the verb ‘cleave’, means ‘split in two to a certain depth’—the image is of one being squeezed between the stick’s prongs

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‘a load of cobblers’: meaning and origin

UK, 1955—‘cobblers’, short for ‘cobbler’s (or cobblers’) awls’, is rhyming slang for ‘balls’, i.e., ‘testicles’, and figuratively ‘nonsense’, ‘rubbish’

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‘square eyes’ | ‘square-eyed’

‘square eyes’ 1955: eyes fancifully imagined as made square by habitual or excessive television viewing; a person characterised as watching too much television—‘square-eyed’ 1953: affected by, or given to, excessive viewing of television

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