‘hellzapoppin’’: meaning and origin

USA, 1896—one-word form representing a colloquial pronunciation of the phrase ‘hell’s a poppin’’ (1875)—meaning: ‘events are unfolding in a chaotic manner’; ‘a state of confusion and disarray is taking hold’—the verb ‘pop’ means ‘to suddenly break open’

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‘lower than a snake’s belly’: meaning and origin

USA, 1893—utterly despicable—jocular extension of ‘lower than a snake’—refers to the use of ‘low’ to mean ‘despicable’, and to the use of ‘snake’ to denote ‘a treacherous or deceitful person’

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‘(as) game as Ned Kelly’: meaning and origin

Australia, 1907—very spirited or brave—refers to the Australian outlaw Ned Kelly (1855-1880), leader of a band of horse and cattle thieves and bank raiders operating in Victoria, who was eventually hanged in Melbourne

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‘government stroke’: meaning and origin

Australia, 1837—the deliberately slow pace of work characteristic of public-sector workers—originally used of convict labourers—in Australia as a penal colony, unease about the word ‘convict’ led to the creation of euphemistic terms such as ‘government man’ and ‘public servant’

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‘Lushington’: meaning and origin

UK, 1819—has been used in various jocular phrases referring to alcohol consumption—punningly alludes to ‘lush’, which, as a noun, denotes alcoholic drink, and, as a verb, means to consume alcohol—‘the City of Lushington’: a convivial society, consisting chiefly of actors, which met at the Harp Tavern, London

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notes on ‘queuemanship’

1950—the exercise of ploys and tactics in order to minimise time spent waiting in a queue—composed of the noun ‘queue’ and the suffix ‘-manship’—here, ‘-manship’ does not refer to the skills worthy of a role, as in ‘horsemanship’ and ‘statesmanship’, but to the ploys used to gain the upper hand, as in ‘gamesmanship’

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‘parting shot’ | ‘Parthian shot’

‘parting shot’ (1817); ‘Parthian shot’ (1822): a sharp, telling remark, act, gesture, etc., made in departing—‘parting shot’: literally the final shot fired at the moment of departure—‘Parthian shot’: refers to the Parthian horsemen’s habit of shooting arrows backwards while in real or pretended retreat

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