‘Johnny Foreigner’: meaning and origin

UK, 1899—derogatory—a foreigner; a personification of foreign people—‘Johnny’ is used with modifying word to designate a person of the type, group, profession, etc., specified

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‘handbags at ten paces’: meaning and origin

UK, 1978—(soccer players) a confrontation that does not lead to serious fighting—based on the cliché ‘pistols at ten paces’—the substitution of ‘pistols’ with ‘handbags’, which evokes women fighting with their handbags, expresses the histrionic character of the confrontation

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‘royal we’: meaning and origin

UK, 1821—‘we’ used in place of ‘I’ by a monarch or other person in power, also (frequently humorously) by any individual—originated as a loan translation from French ‘nous royal’, as used of Napoléon Bonaparte by Madame de Staël in her memoirs published in 1821

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‘Torygraph’, and other newspaper nicknames

‘The Daily Telegraph’: nicknamed ‘Torygraph’ for its adherence to Conservative Party—the ‘Daily Mail’: nicknamed ‘Daily Heil’ for its support for Fascists in the 1930s

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‘handbag’: how Thatcher enriched the English language

‘handbag’: to bully or coerce by subjecting to a forthright verbal assault or criticism—originally used with reference to British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher in The Economist (7 August 1982)—from literal meaning ‘to batter or assault with a handbag’

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