‘lightbulb moment’: meaning and origin

USA, 1974—a moment of sudden realisation, enlightenment or inspiration—alludes to the representation of an illuminated lightbulb above a character’s head in a cartoon or comic strip, indicating that this character has had an idea

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‘omnishambles’: meaning and origin

a situation that has been completely mismanaged—from ‘omni-’ and ‘shambles’—coined by Tony Roche in the British television series The Thick of It (3rd series, episode 1, 24 October 2009)

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‘to drink the Kool-Aid’: meanings and origin

USA, 1978—to commit suicide; to demonstrate unquestioning obedience or loyalty—alludes to a mass suicide, in 1978, by members of the Peoples’ Temple in Jonestown, Guyana, who drank a cyanide-laced drink thought to be similar to Kool-Aid

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‘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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‘Mr. Plod’: meaning and origin

UK, 1963—‘Mr. Plod’, also ‘P.C. Plod’, ‘Plod’: a humorous or mildly derogatory appellation for a policeman or for the police—alludes to ‘Mr. Plod’, the name of the policeman in stories by the English author of children’s fiction Enid Blyton

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‘Dutching’: meaning and origin

UK, 1989—the practice of sending food destined for the British market for irradiation in a country, typically the Netherlands, where this process is permitted, in order to mask any bacterial contamination before it is put on sale—from ‘Dutch’ and the suffix ‘-ing’, forming nouns denoting an action

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‘rosinback’: meaning and origin

USA, 1896, circus slang—a horse used by a bareback rider or acrobat—rosin was rubbed on the horse’s back to prevent the rider or acrobat from slipping

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