the curious origin of ‘the mind boggles’

primary meaning of ‘boggle’ was ‘to start with fright’, originally with reference to horses—probably related to the nouns ‘bogle’ and ‘bogey’, denoting an evil spirit such as horses are reputed to see

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adolescence: ‘the awkward age’ – ‘l’âge ingrat’

UK, 1832—‘the awkward age’: the adolescence, when one is no longer a child but not yet properly grown up, a time of life characterised by physical and emotional changes—translates in French as ‘l’âge ingrat’, ‘the thankless age’

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‘handbag’: how Thatcher enriched the English language

‘handbag’: to bully or coerce by subjecting to a forthright verbal assault or criticism—originally used with reference to British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher in The Economist (7 August 1982)—from literal meaning ‘to batter or assault with a handbag’

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A dunce was originally a follower of John Duns Scotus.

‘dunce’: originally a follower of John Duns Scotus (circa 1265-1308), scholastic theologian; in the 16th century, Scotus’s system was attacked with ridicule by the humanists and the reformers as a farrago of needless entities and useless distinctions

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British and French Twelfth-Day traditions

Twelfth Day denotes the twelfth day after Christmas, i.e. 6th January, on which the festival of the Epiphany is celebrated, and which was formerly observed as the closing day of the Christmas festivities. (Epiphany denotes the festival commemorating the manifestation of Christ to the Gentiles in the persons of the Magi; via Old-French and Anglo-Norman forms such as epyphane (Modern […]

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