let’s return to our muttons

to return to the matter in hand—from French ‘revenons à nos moutons’ (‘let’s return to our sheep’), allusion to ‘La Farce de Maistre Pierre Pathelin’ (ca 1457)

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shell out

  photograph: Wikimedia Commons/Bill Ebbesen     The phrasal verb shell out means to pay a specified amount of money, especially one regarded as excessive. It is first recorded in Moral tales for young people (1801), by the Anglo-Irish novelist and educationist Maria Edgeworth (1768-1849): “One of you, it’s plain, must shell out your corianders.” (The word coriander (or coliander), short […]

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panjandrum

  cover of The Great Panjandrum Himself (1885), a picture book based on the text attributed to Samuel Foote, by the English artist and illustrator Randolph Caldecott (1846-86) – photograph: Aleph-Bet Books     MEANING   a pompous self-important official or person of rank   ORIGIN The word is supposed to have been coined in […]

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