‘to judge a book by its cover’: meaning and origin

USA, 1837—to make assumptions about someone or something based on appearance or on superficial characteristics—the metaphor occurs in the preface to ‘Truth in Fiction: Or, Morality in Masquerade. A Collection of Two hundred twenty five Select Fables of Æsop, and other Authors’ (London, 1708), by Edmund Arwaker

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‘bread-artist’: meaning and origin

an artist or writer who produces what is considered to be inferior work simply to earn a living—loan translation from German ‘Brotkünstler’—first used in 1827 by Scottish historian and political philosopher Thomas Carlyle in a text about German literature

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‘to break a butterfly on a wheel’: meaning and origin

to use unnecessary force in destroying something fragile—alludes to a wheel used as an instrument of torture—first occurs in An Epistle from Mr. Pope, to Dr. Arbuthnot (1734), by the English poet Alexander Pope (1688-1744), who perhaps coined this phrase

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‘wishful thinking’ | ‘wishful thinker’

USA—‘wishful thinking’, 1915: thinking in which one, consciously or unconsciously, interprets facts as one would like them to be rather than as they really are—‘wishful thinker’, 1917: a person who, consciously or unconsciously, interprets facts as he or she would like them to be rather than as they really are

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‘bread and roses’: meaning and origin

USA, 1911—used to express the belief that everyone should have access not only to basic sustenance, but also to the finer things in life, such as education, art, literature, etc.—adapted from ‘Bread for all, and Roses too’ (1911), a slogan in the fight for women’s rights

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‘to be a box of birds’: meaning and origin

Australia and New Zealand, 1939—to be in good spirits, ‘chirpy’—the image is of a boxful of chirping birds (cf. the extended form ‘happy as a bird in a box of birdseed’)—New-Zealand variant ‘to be a box of fluffy ducks’, also ‘to be a box of fluffies’

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