meaning and origin of the phrase ‘cut and dried’

  It is a circumstance rather remarkable, that the answer to Sir George Rodney’s summons of surrender, given by the respective Dutch Governours of the Islands of St. Eustatius and St. Martin’s, should be couched exactly in the same form of words without the smallest variation; from this we are either to suppose, that the […]

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the mysterious origin of ‘tace is Latin for candle’

  The Excommunication of Robert the Pious (1875), by the French artist Jean-Paul Laurens (1838-1921)—image: Wikimedia Commons The officiants have just excommunicated Robert by bell, book, and candle [note 1], and left the quenched candle behind. Robert II (972-1031), known as the Pious, the son of Hugues Capet, was excommunicated for incest by Pope Gregory V […]

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How Jonathan Swift coined ‘sæva indignatio’.

  Jonathan Swift’s grave, marked by a simple brass plaque on the floor at the west end of St Patrick’s Cathedral, Dublin, is adjacent to that of his great friend in life, Stella (Esther Johnson – 1681-1728): plaques marking the graves of Jonathan Swift and Esther Johnson     Latin sæva indignatio, meaning savage indignation, expresses a […]

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origin of the phrase ‘of that kidney’ (of that type)

bust of Jonathan Swift – Saint Patrick’s Cathedral, Dublin     The word kidney, which is attested around 1325, is of unclear origin. The second element of the Middle-English form kidenei, plural kideneiren, is apparently ey, plural eyren, meaning egg (cf. German Eier, literally eggs, used to mean testicles). The first element remains uncertain; it is […]

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