a Lancashire phrase: ‘the full monty’

something in its entirety—UK, 2nd half of 20th cent.—the sense of striptease performance involving full nudity was popularised by the 1997 film The Full Monty.

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origin of ‘quiz’ (“Vir bonus est quis?”)?

Originally meaning ‘person of ridiculous appearance’, ‘quiz’ (students’ slang, late 18th century) was jocularly derived from the Latin interrogative pronoun ‘quis’ in “Vir bonus est quis?” (“Who is a good man?”)—a good, ingenuous, harmless man being likely to become an object of ridicule or even of harassment.

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meanings and history of the term ‘hot mess’

  This advertisement for the second season (2014) of comedienne Amy Schumer’s sketch show, Inside Amy Schumer, highlighted both the “hot” and “mess” sides of her personality — photograph: Jamey Welch Creative   The primary meanings of the noun mess are a serving of food, a course, a meal, a prepared dish of a specified […]

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meaning and origin of the phrase ‘to play to the gallery’

  the gods at the Comedy Theatre, London, 1949 source: Historic England – The Theatres Trust     Via Middle French galerie, the noun gallery, attested in the late 15th century, is from the medieval Latin of Italy galeria, an alteration of medieval Latin galilaea, designating a porch at the entrance of a monastery’s church—hence English […]

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meaning and origin of the phrase ‘the cup that cheers’

    The phrase the cup that cheers but not inebriates and its variants refer to tea as a drink which invigorates a person without causing drunkenness. It is from The Winter Evening, the fourth book of The Task. A Poem, in six Books (1785), by the English poet and letter-writer William Cowper (1731-1800): Now stir the fire, and close the […]

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the authentic origin of the word ‘teetotal’

The adjective teetotal in the sense of choosing, or characterised by, total abstinence from all alcohol seems to have first been used about September 1833 by Richard Turner, a worker from Preston, Lancashire, in a speech advocating total abstinence from intoxicating liquors, in preference to abstinence from ardent spirits only (as practised by some early […]

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meaning and origin of the phrase ‘widow’s cruse’

  The Prophet Elijah and the Widow of Sarepta (circa 1630-40), by Bernardo Strozzi (circa 1581-1644) – image: wikiart.org     The noun cruse denotes a small earthenware vessel for liquids. It is of Germanic origin and related to words such as Dutch kroes and Swedish krus, of same meaning. The expression widow’s cruse signifies an apparently small supply that proves inexhaustible. It is an allusion […]

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