‘false dawn’: meanings and origin

1809—a transient light preceding the true dawn by about an hour, a phenomenon common in Eastern countries—translates Arabic ‘ṣubḥ kāḏib’—figuratively: a hopeful sign that can prove either illusory or authentic

Read More

origin of ‘coward’ and of ‘cowardy, cowardy custard’

‘coward’—from Old-French ‘cuard’, probably referring to a frightened animal with its tail between its legs—from ‘cüe’ (Modern French ‘queue’), ‘tail’, and pejorative suffix ‘-ard’ (cf. ‘bastard’)—‘cowardy, cowardy custard’, alliterative nonsensical children’s phrase (19th century)

Read More