‘a sprat to catch a mackerel’: meaning and origin

1747—a small outlay or risk ventured in the hope or expectation of a significant return—a metaphor from fishing, in which sprats are used as bait to catch larger fish—in early use with the words ‘salmon’ and ‘herring’ instead of ‘mackerel’

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‘au reservoir’ (‘goodbye until we meet again’)

A humorous alteration of ‘au revoir’ after the noun ‘reservoir’, the exclamation ‘au reservoir’ is first recorded in Little Pedlington and the Pedlingtonians (London, 1839), by the English author John Poole (1786-1872).

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meaning and origin of ‘Mrs Grundy’

from Speed the Plough (1798), by Thomas Morton; Dame Ashfield is constantly fearing to give occasion for the sneers of Mrs Grundy, her unseen neighbour

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meaning and origin of ‘Paul Pry’

UK, 1826—from the eponymous character played by John Liston in a comedy by John Poole, which premiered at the Haymarket Theatre, London, on 13th September 1825

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