meanings and origin of ‘Mummerset’

UK, 1915—humorous blend of the common noun ‘mummer’ and of the name ‘Somerset’—denotes a pseudo-rustic dialect used by actors and an imaginary rustic county.

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meaning and origin of ‘every cloud has a silver lining’

The proverb every cloud has a silver lining means that every difficult or sad situation has a comforting or more hopeful aspect, even though this may not be immediately apparent—cf. also the pessimistic reversal every silver lining has a cloud. In 1840, the Irish novelist known as Mrs S. C. Hall (Mrs Samuel Carter Hall, […]

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origin of ‘pandemonium’ (place of uproar and chaos)

  Charles Macklin (circa 1792), by John Opie image: National Portrait Gallery       MEANING   a place or state of utter confusion and uproar   ORIGIN   In Paradise Lost (1667), the English poet John Milton (1608-74) invented Pandæmonium, with a capital P, as the name for the capital of Hell, containing the […]

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meaning and origin of the phrase ‘forlorn hope’

  MEANING   a persistent or desperate hope that is unlikely to be fulfilled, a faint hope, a ‘hope against hope’   ORIGIN   On the face of it, this is a curious expression, because the adjective forlorn does not normally mean faint but miserable, lonely, forsaken or sad. The current sense of forlorn hope […]

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