‘to go to Peg Trantum’s’ (to go to one’s death)

First recorded in 1694, ‘Peg Tantrum’ was chiefly used in the phrase ‘to go to Peg Trantum’s’, meaning ‘to go to one’s death’. This word is perhaps from ‘Peg’, rhyming form of ‘Meg’, pet form of the female forenames ‘Margery’ and ‘Margaret’, and from ‘tantrum’.

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origin and meanings of ‘jingo’

The current sense of ‘jingo’ originated in a 1877 patriotic song adopted by the bellicose factions within the Conservative Party during the Russo-Turkish war.

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origin of the phrase ‘as poor as a church mouse’

  woodwork in Easingwold Parish Church – Diocese of York Robert Thompson, the Kilburn craftsman, invariably carved a little mouse on his work. photograph: Visit Easingwold     The phrase as poor as a church mouse means extremely poor. It is first recorded in The royalist a comedy (1682), by the English author Thomas D’Urfey (1653-1723): ’Gad […]

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the macabre history of ‘field bishop’

  Pantagrueline prognostication (1535) – image: Anthropologie en ligne     The term field bishop denotes a person who is hanged and imagined as grotesquely giving a benediction with his jerking legs. It is first recorded in A mysterye of inyquyte contayned within the heretycall genealogye of Ponce Pantolabus (1545), by John Bale (1495-1563), Bishop […]

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origin of ‘dandelion’ and of its French equivalent ‘pissenlit’

  the 1905 edition of Le Petit Larousse illustré, a French-language encyclopaedic dictionary published by the Éditions Larousse In 1890, Eugène Grasset (1845-1917) designed the image of la Semeuse (the Sower) blowing dandelion seeds, which accompanies the motto of the Éditions Larousse, Je sème à tout vent (I sow to the four winds).   The word […]

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