British origin of Gotham, nickname for New York City

Many centuries before becoming a nickname for New York City and the name of a fictional city associated with the Batman stories, Gotham was used in Britain as the name of a (probably fictional) village proverbial for the folly of its inhabitants.

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meaning and origin of the phrase ‘cold comfort’

The expression cold comfort means inadequate consolation for a misfortune. The adjective cold has long been used to mean felt as cold by the receiver, chilling, damping, discouraging. For example, the English poet Geoffrey Chaucer (circa 1342-1400) wrote, in The Nun’s Priest’s Tale:      (interlinear translation – Harvard College) Wommennes conseils been ful ofte colde;      Women’s counsels […]

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meaning and origin of ‘to carry coals to Newcastle’

  A trainload of coal on the High Level Bridge in Newcastle photograph: Stephen Craven     MEANING   The phrase to carry coals to Newcastle means to supply something to a place where it is already plentiful; hence, figuratively, to do something wholly superfluous or unnecessary—cf. also to sell refrigerators to the Eskimos and to sell […]

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