‘brolly hop’: meaning and origin

UK, 1933—a jump made with a parachute—hence also the verbal noun ‘brolly-hopping’ and the verb ‘brolly-hop’—‘brolly’ (university slang, late 19th century): a clipped and altered form of ‘umbrella’

Read More

‘T.W.O.C’: meaning and sociological background

UK, 1972—the offence of taking a car without the owner’s consent, especially for the purpose of joyriding, which was a social phenomenon prevalent in north-eastern England—acronym for ‘taking without owner’s consent’

Read More

‘the whole caboodle’: meaning and origin

USA, 1839—the whole group or set of people, animals or things—origin unknown—perhaps from the Dutch expression ‘de hele kit en boedel’, meaning ‘the entire house and everything in it’

Read More

‘paper yabber’: meaning and origin

Australia, 1888—denotes a letter (i.e., a written message)—‘yabber’: as a noun, denotes speech, language, talk; as a verb, means to talk—from an aboriginal stem ‘ya’, meaning to speak

Read More

‘tickety-boo’: meaning, early occurrences and origin

UK, 1938—old-fashioned informal British-English adjective meaning ‘in good order’, ‘fine’—origin obscure: perhaps from Hindi ‘ṭhīk hai’ (‘all right’) or from ‘the ticket’ (‘the correct thing’); or it may simply be a purely fanciful formation

Read More

history of ‘Emma Chisit’ and ‘Strine’

Australia, 1964—‘Emma Chisit’: ‘how much is it?’ (allegedly coined by English author Monica Dickens, who reportedly misunderstood the question posed by an Australian)—‘Strine’: Australian pronunciation of ‘Australian’ (coined by Australian author Alistair Morrison)

Read More

‘English as she is spoke’: meaning and origin

broken English—UK, 1883—from ‘English As She is Spoke: or A Jest in Sober Earnest’ (London: Field & Tuer, 1883), title given to a book intended as a Portuguese-English conversational guide

Read More

‘Oxford comma’: meaning and origin

a comma immediately preceding the conjunction in a list of items—1978—named after the preferred use of such a comma in the house style of Oxford University Press

Read More