‘to fall off (the back of) a lorry’ (‘to be stolen’)

UK, 1953, humorous and euphemistic—‘to fall off (the back of) a lorry’: of goods, ‘to be acquired in dubious or unspecified circumstances’, especially ‘to be stolen’—variant with ‘truck’ came into use later in Australian and North American English

Read More

origin of ‘bobby’ and ‘peeler’ (‘police officer’)

UK, 1844—‘bobby’: a policeman—from ‘Bobby’, pet form of ‘Robert’, in allusion to Robert Peel, who, as Home Secretary, established the Metropolitan Police in 1829—cf. ‘peeler’ (1816), originally a member of the Peace Preservation Force in Ireland established in 1814 by Robert Peel

Read More

origin of ‘cloud-cuckoo-land’

a realm of fantasy, dreams or impractical notions—1856 as ‘cuckoo-cloud-land’—from the name of the city built by the birds in ‘The Birds’, by Aristophanes

Read More

the uncertain origin of ‘cockney’

originally ‘pampered child’, later ‘town-dweller regarded as affected or puny’—origin uncertain—probably not the same word as ‘cokeney’, literally ‘cock’s egg’

Read More

origin of ‘to be part and parcel of’

from the legal formula ‘part and parcel’, in which both nouns meant ‘an integral portion of something’, the second noun merely reinforcing the first

Read More