‘where there’s muck, there’s brass’: meaning and origin

UK, 1907—means that dirty or unpleasant activities can be lucrative—in early use: (1735) ‘where there’s muck, there’s luck’ and (1774) ‘where there’s muck, there’s money’—the synonymous proverb ‘muck and money go together’ was recorded in 1678

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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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‘Tory-lite’: meanings and origin

UK, 1995—a derogatory designation of New Labour, i.e., a right-wing/social democratic trend in Labour thinking and policy, advocated by Tony Blair—‘Tory’: the British Conservative Party; ‘lite’ (phonetic respelling of the adjective ‘light’): a moderated version of something

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‘to pass the parcel’: meaning and origin

UK—(used of a group of people) to keep passing the initiative or responsibility from one person to another, so that no action is taken—refers to a party game in which a gift wrapped in several layers of paper is passed around a circle of players to the accompaniment of music, the losers in successive rounds being those holding the parcel when the accompanying music stops

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‘to trail one’s coat’: meaning and origin

UK, 1837—to go out of one’s way to start a quarrel or a fight—refers to the Irish practice of dragging one’s coat behind one in the expectation that somebody will, intentionally or unintentionally, step on it and provide the pretext needed for a quarrel or a fight

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‘my stars and garters!’: meaning and origin

1758—humorous exclamation expressing surprise, excitement, etc.—‘star’: a badge in the shape of, or ornamented with, a star, worn as part of the insignia of an order of knighthood or of chivalry—‘garter’: the badge of the highest order of English knighthood, i.e., the Order of the Garter

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