‘bullamacow’: meanings and origin

islands of the South Pacific, 1881—cattle, beef, and, by extension, meat of any kind and tinned meat—a combination of the nouns ‘bull’ and ‘cow’

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‘where the bugs wear clogs’: meanings and origin

Liverpool, England—(1957) an insalubrious place—(1961) the neighbouring town of Bootle regarded as a rough area—said to refer to the Knowsley’s Bug Circus of Bootle, which featured clog-shod, chain-smoking performing bugs

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‘until Nelson gets his eye back’: meaning and origin

UK and Ireland—with reference to the fact that Horatio Nelson was blinded in one eye—(1922) ‘until/when Nelson gets his eye back’ is used of a very long time in the future—(1933) the metaphor of Nelson getting his eye back is used of a very small chance of success

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‘every Preston Guild’: meaning and origin

UK, 1892—very rarely—refers to the fact that Preston Guilds are held only once every twenty years—Preston is the administrative centre of Lancashire, a county of north-western England, on the Irish Sea

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‘Queen Anne front and Mary Ann back’

UK and USA, 1889—used of anything that is speciously high-class in appearance, but is commonplace in reality—‘Queen Anne’ means ‘beautiful’, as opposed to ‘Mary Ann’, meaning ‘vile’; ‘low’; ‘mean’

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‘grotty’: meaning and origin

UK—a general term of disapproval, meaning ‘unpleasant’, ‘dirty’, ‘nasty’, ‘ugly’, etc.—shortened form of ‘grotesque’—first recorded in (and popularised by) A Hard Day’s Night (1964), a musical comedy film starring the Beatles

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‘Liverpool gentleman’: meaning and origin

UK, 1839—a Liverpudlian, especially as opposed to a Mancunian—from the 19th-century distinction between the Liverpudlians, who were involved in trading, and the Mancunians, who were involved in manufacturing

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‘antwacky’: meaning and origin

UK, 1975—old-fashioned; out of date—perhaps a humorous alteration of the adjective ‘antique’, perhaps punningly after the adjective ‘wacky’—or perhaps derived from ‘Ann Twack’, rhyming slang for ‘crap’

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