‘Dickless Tracy’: meanings and origin

USA, 1963—a female police officer or a female traffic warden—puns on ‘dick’, slang for a man’s penis, and the name of Dick Tracy, a comic-strip detective created in 1931 by the U.S. cartoonist Chester Gould

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‘grey meanie’: meaning and origin

Australia, 1970—a Melbourne City Council parking officer—the adjective ‘grey’ refers to the colour of those officers’ uniform; the noun ‘meanie’ refers to the nastiness displayed by those officers in the accomplishment of their duties

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‘Jenny Darby’ (policeman)

UK, 1830—‘Jenny Darby’, ‘Johnny Darm’, and variants, were originally opprobrious names for any member of the new Metropolitan Police introduced in 1829 by Robert Peel—alterations of ‘gendarme’, with full or partial folk-etymological remodelling variously after the female forename ‘Jenny’, the male forename ‘Johnny’, and the surname ‘Darby’

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‘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

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‘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

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‘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

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‘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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