‘gavroche’: meaning and origin

USA, 1863—a street urchin, especially in Paris, France—from ‘Gavroche’, the name of a street urchin in Les Misérables (1862), a novel by Victor Hugo

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meaning and origin of the British noun ‘fly-tipping’

1947—the unauthorised dumping of waste, especially while in the process of transporting it—‘fly’ refers to ‘on the fly’, meaning ‘while in motion or progress’—‘tipping’ is the gerund of the verb ‘tip’, in the sense ‘to dump’

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‘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’

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‘to chase the dragon’: meaning and origin

to take heroin by heating it and inhaling the fumes, which form a pattern resembling the tail of a dragon—originated in Hong Kong in the 1950s as a translation of Cantonese slang ‘chui lung’, ‘dragon chasing’

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‘paper tiger’: meaning and origin

UK, 1836—a person, country, etc., that appears powerful or threatening but is actually weak or ineffective—from Chinese ‘zhǐlǎohǔ’ (‘zhǐ’, paper, ‘lǎohǔ’, tiger)—used in the post-war years by the Chinese Communist Party of the USA and other reactionaries

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‘loony bin’: meaning and origin

1909 to 1923 in stories by English author P. G. Wodehouse—a facetious appellation for a home or hospital for people with mental illnesses—‘loony’: shortened form of ‘lunatic’

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‘bush telegraph’: meanings and origin

Australia, 1863—originally referred to any chain of communications by which bushrangers were warned of police movements—soon extended to any rapid informal network by which information, rumour, gossip, etc., is spread

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‘Asbomania’: meaning and origin

UK, 2005—the perceived indiscriminate and excessive use by the authorities of anti-social behaviour orders—apparently coined by Álvaro Gil-Robles, the Council of Europe’s Commissioner for Human Rights—‘Asbo’: acronym from the initial letters of ‘anti-social behaviour order’

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