‘to nail one’s colours to the mast’: meanings and origin

UK, 1808—to make one’s beliefs or intentions plain—from the former practice of nailing an ensign to the mast of a ship, after damage during battle resulted in the ship’s colours no longer being clearly displayed, which otherwise might have been interpreted as a signal of surrender

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‘damaged goods’ and venereal disease

1911—‘Damaged Goods’, translation of ‘Les Avariés’, by French dramatist Eugène Brieux, about the dangers of ignorance concerning sexually transmitted diseases

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