‘the eighth wonder of the world’: meaning and origin

1613—used hyperbolically of any impressive object, etc.—also applied ironically to a self-satisfied or arrogant person—refers to the seven wonders of the world, i.e., the seven most spectacular man-made structures of the ancient world

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origin of the phrase ‘as poor as a church mouse’

  woodwork in Easingwold Parish Church – Diocese of York Robert Thompson, the Kilburn craftsman, invariably carved a little mouse on his work. photograph: Visit Easingwold     The phrase as poor as a church mouse means extremely poor. It is first recorded in The royalist a comedy (1682), by the English author Thomas D’Urfey (1653-1723): ’Gad […]

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a hypothesis as to the origin of ‘to pay through the nose’

MEANING   to pay excessively, to be charged exorbitantly   PROBABLE ORIGIN   The expression to pay through the nose is first recorded in Piazza universale di proverbi Italiani, or, A common place of Italian proverbs and proverbial phrases digested in alphabetical order (1666), by Giovanni Torriano (floruit 1640): Oft-times Rich men engrossing commodities, will make one pay through the […]

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