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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to have a bee in one’s bonnet

This phrase is a transformation of ‘one’s head full of bees’, meaning scatter-brained, unable to think straight, as if bees are buzzing around in one’s head.

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slave – Slav – robot – ciao

The word ‘slave’ is from Medieval Latin ‘Sclavus’, ‘Slav’, because the Slavic peoples were frequently reduced to a servile condition by the Germanic conquest.

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conundrum

The word ‘conundrum’, attested in 1596, originally meant ‘whimsy’, ‘oddity’. It perhaps originated as a parody of some Latin scholastic phrase.

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don’t look a gift horse in the mouth

A horse’s teeth reveal its age. It is therefore bad manners to look in the mouth of a horse that has been received as a gift in order to establish its value.

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