How ‘tycoon’ acquired its current sense in 1860.

From Japanese ‘taikun’, ‘tycoon’ was originally the title by which the shogun of Japan was described to foreigners. The current sense originated in the Japanese Embassy to the United States in 1860, not from the use of ‘tycoon’ as a nickname of Abraham Lincoln.

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origin of ‘to miss the bus’ (to miss an opportunity)

  The phrase to miss the bus, or the boat, etc., means to be too slow to take advantage of an opportunity. In A Concise Dictionary of Phrase and Fable (1993), B. A. Phythian explained: This expression is said to originate in an Oxford story of the 1840s about John Henry Newman, fellow of Oriel […]

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origin of ‘corduroy’: ‘colour de roy’ (i.e. king’s colour)?

  photograph: javi.velazquez       MEANING   a heavy cotton pile fabric with lengthways ribs   ORIGIN: UNKNOWN   The original form of this noun, in the late 18th century, was corderoy. The earliest use of the word that I have found is from The Manchester Mercury (Manchester, Lancashire, England) of Tuesday 7th April 1772: […]

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The usual explanation of ‘Hobson’s choice’ is fallacious.

It was only from the mere accident of his bearing the name that he did that the phrase ‘Hobson’s choice’ was applied to Thomas Hobson (1544-1631), an English liveryman who supposedly gave his customers no choice but to take the horse closest to the stable door or none at all.     MEANING   Hobson’s […]

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