‘grease monkey’: meaning and origin

USA, 1918—a mechanic—since the 17th century, ‘monkey’ has been used (frequently with modifying word indicating the occupation concerned) to denote a person engaged in a trade or profession

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‘spud-bashing’: meanings and origin

UK, WWII, army slang—‘spud-bashing’ (noun): potato-peeling; ‘spud-bash’ (verb): to peel potatoes; ‘spud-basher’ (noun): one who peels potatoes—those words have also been used with reference to potato-digging

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‘Spam medal’: meaning and origin

military slang, 1944—a medal awarded to all members of a force—especially the 1939-1945 Star, awarded to British service personnel who took part in WWII—refers to the ubiquitousness of Spam as a foodstuff

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‘Johnny Arab’: meaning and origin

UK, 1920—an Arab man—‘Johnny’, a pet form of ‘John’, is used, with modifying word, to designate a person, especially a man, of the type, group, profession, etc., specified

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‘short-arm inspection’: meaning and origin

USA, 1917—originally and chiefly military slang—an inspection of the penis for venereal disease or other infection—the image is of the penis as an additional, but shorter, limb

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‘spine-bash’: meaning and origin

Australia—meaning: (as a verb) to rest or spend time in an aimless, idle way; (as a noun) an instance or period of resting—origin: Army slang, Second World War, from the notion of lying on one’s back

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Spanish ‘costa’ in invented place names

In reference to the names of various stretches of the Spanish Mediterranean coast which are popular with British holidaymakers, the Spanish noun ‘costa’ is used humorously as the first element in various invented place names.

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