history of the portmanteau word ‘brunch’

    A blend of breakfast and lunch, the noun brunch denotes a late morning meal eaten instead of breakfast and lunch. It originated, apparently in the late 19th century, as Oxford University slang and is first recorded in Lunch at Oxford, by Margaret B. Wright, published in The Independent (New York) of Thursday 22nd […]

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meaning and origin of the phrase ‘not a cat in hell’s chance’

  Jackson’s Oxford Journal – 29th September 1753     The phrase not a cat in hell’s chance means no chance at all—synonyms: a snowball’s chance (in hell) and a Chinaman’s chance. It is a shortening of the more explicit no more chance than a cat in hell without claws.  The earliest instance of this phrase that I have found […]

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origin of ‘Aunt Sally’ (name of a British game)

  Aunt Sally – from The Modern Playmate: A book of games, sports, and diversions for boys of all ages (new revised edition – 1875?), by John George Wood (1827-89)     The Oxford English Dictionary (first edition – 1885) thus defined Aunt Sally: a game much in vogue at fairs and races, in which […]

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meaning and origin of the phrase ‘in the swim’

  G. A. SALA, TO SIR AUGUSTUS HARRIS, ON PASSING THE PALACE THEATRE:—“I SAY, GUS, THINGS LOOK A LITTLE LIVELIER HERE THAN WHEN YOU AND I WERE IN THE SWIM!” — from The Entr’acte and Limelight (London) of 10th March 1894 (Augustus Harris (1825-73) was a British actor and theatre manager. George Augustus Sala (1828-95), was […]

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