‘Miss’-‘Ms’: origin

‘miss’: unmarried woman or girl; 17th cent., short for ‘mistress’—‘Ms’: title free of reference to marital status; 20th cent., blend of ‘Mrs’ and ‘Miss’

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meaning and origin of ‘spick and span’

mid-17th cent. in the sense ‘brand new’—from ‘spick and span new’, extension of ‘span new’, from Old Norse ‘spán-nýr’, ‘as new as a freshly cut wooden chip’

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origin of ‘according to Cocker’

according to Cocker: correctly; reliably—early 19th century, from the name of Edward Cocker (1631-75), English arithmetician, reputed author of a popular Arithmetick

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meanings and origin of ‘Maundy’

originally the washing of poor persons’ feet – from ‘mandatum novum’, ‘a new commandment’, in the discourse following Jesus’ washing of the apostles’ feet

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meaning and origin of the phrase ‘to eat humble pie’

  A puzzle published in The Hibernian Magazine, or, Compendium of Entertaining Knowledge (Dublin, Ireland) in 1774 punned on the humble of humble pie, which may indicate that the latter term was already used figuratively at that time. The following is from the October issue:                     […]

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to make a hash of something – to settle someone’s hash

    The verb hash, which dates back to the mid-17th century, is from French hacher, meaning to chop, to mince, itself from the feminine noun hache, meaning an axe. (English hatchet is from the diminutive of hache, hachette.) The literal sense of the noun hash is a dish consisting of meat which has been […]

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history of the phrase ‘tell that to the marines’

  “HUNS KILL WOMEN AND CHILDREN!” “TELL THAT TO THE MARINES!” First-World-War US recruiting poster by James Montgomery Flagg image: Disappearing Idioms This poster, which attracted a great deal of attention, portrays an angry-looking young man in the act of pulling off his coat as though he were anxious to get into a fight. The […]

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The veracious story of a worthy knight, called Sir Loin of Beef

  At Astley Hall (Lancashire), you can still see this chair… … with the following explanation: Sirloin Chair – King James I reputedly knighted a loin of beef upon this chair at Hoghton Tower, Lancashire, in 1617. Se non è vero, è ben trovato. (Even if it is not true, it makes a good story.)   […]

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