‘savoury duck’: meaning and origin

Lancashire, England, 1833—a faggot, a meatball, “a compound of onions, flour, and small pieces of pork” (The Liverpool Echo, 20 August 1880)—probably one of the common dishes humorously named after daintier items of food

Read More

‘jam butty’ (police patrol car)

UK, 1971—‘jam butty’ (also ‘jam sandwich’): a colloquial appellation for a police patrol car having a red stripe painted on a white background

Read More

‘until Nelson gets his eye back’: meaning and origin

UK and Ireland—with reference to the fact that Horatio Nelson was blinded in one eye—(1922) ‘until/when Nelson gets his eye back’ is used of a very long time in the future—(1933) the metaphor of Nelson getting his eye back is used of a very small chance of success

Read More

‘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

Read More

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’

Read More

‘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’

Read More

‘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’

Read More