origin of ‘to cut a caper’

‘caper’: probably abbreviation of ‘cabriole’, from Italian ‘capriola’, literally ‘female roe deer’, from Latin ‘capreola’, ‘wild goat’, from ‘capra’, she-goat

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to set the Thames on fire

from the image of an impossible task, ‘to set the Thames on fire’: to work wonders — typically used negatively in the ironic sense never to distinguish oneself

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meanings and origin of ‘Maundy’

originally the washing of poor persons’ feet – from ‘mandatum novum’, ‘a new commandment’, in the discourse following Jesus’ washing of the apostles’ feet

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let the cobbler stick to his last

‘Let the cobbler stick to his last’ goes back to Pliny’s story of the Greek artist Apelles answering a cobbler who had criticised one of his paintings.

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origin of ‘maudlin’

‘maudlin’: tearfully sentimental – from the Middle-English name ‘Maudelen’, designating Mary Magdalene, a follower of Jesus, customarily represented as weeping

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origin of ‘first catch your hare’

‘First catch your hare’ (early 19th cent.): originated in popular humour ascribing this phrase to ‘The Art of Cookery’ (1st published 1747), by Hannah Glasse

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origin of ‘Boxing Day’

from the verb ‘box’, ‘to give a Christmas-box’, i.e. to give a gratuity or present to tradespeople and employees—originally a box in which money was collected

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the straight and narrow

‘The straight and narrow’: allusion to the Sermon on the Mount. ‘Straight’ is an alteration of ‘strait’, meaning ‘so narrow as to make transit difficult’.

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