the making of ‘omelette’

1611—from French ‘omelette’, ultimately an alteration of ‘lemelle’, ‘knife blade’ (from Latin ‘lamella’), with reference to the flattened shape of the dish

Read More

origin of ‘Froggy’ (French)

mid-19th cent.—perhaps from a specific application of the general term of abuse ‘Frog’, aided by the shared initial consonant cluster in ‘French’ and ‘frog’

Read More

origin of ‘neither fish nor fowl’

Origin: for purposes of fasting, food was divided into categories – ‘fish’, the flesh of fish, ‘flesh’, the flesh of land-animals, ‘fowl’, the flesh of birds.

Read More

origin of ‘maudlin’

‘maudlin’: tearfully sentimental – from the Middle-English name ‘Maudelen’, designating Mary Magdalene, a follower of Jesus, customarily represented as weeping

Read More

to wet one’s whistle

In ‘to wet one’s whistle’ (to take a drink), attested in the late 14th century, in Chaucer, ‘whistle’ is jocular for the mouth or the throat.

Read More

the straight and narrow

‘The straight and narrow’: allusion to the Sermon on the Mount. ‘Straight’ is an alteration of ‘strait’, meaning ‘so narrow as to make transit difficult’.

Read More

origin of ‘to play possum’

‘to play possum’: American English, early 19th century—pretend to be dead, asleep, etc.—allusion to the opossum’s habit of feigning death when threatened

Read More