‘Queen Anne’s fan’: meaning and early occurrences

UK, 1883—a gesture of derision made by putting one’s thumb to one’s nose and outspreading the fingers like a fan; can be intensified by joining the tip of the little finger to the thumb of the other hand, whose fingers are also outspread fanwise—the motivation for the choice of ‘Queen Anne’ is unknown

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British and Irish uses of ‘more front than’

denotes effrontery—‘front’ denotes self-assurance, but the word that follows ‘than’ puns on ‘front’ in the sense of the façade of a building, a long seafront, etc.—also denotes a well-endowed woman, with reference to ‘front’ in the sense of a woman’s bust

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notes on ‘four-leaved clover’ and ‘even ash’

‘four-leaved clover’: a rare form of clover leaf having four leaflets, regarded as a lucky charm or sign of good fortune—superstition mentioned as early as 1620—sometimes associated with ‘even ash’, a rare form of ash leaf having an even number of leaflets

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‘I’m talking to the butcher, not to the block’

UK, 1898—Australia, 1913—used when, while addressing someone, the speaker is interrupted by someone else—in particular when the person who interrupts is a subordinate of the person whom the speaker addresses

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