the probable origin of ‘monkey business’

UK, 1835—mischievous or deceitful behaviour—alludes to the proverbial playfulness of monkeys—probably modelled on Bengali ‘bãdrāmi’; cf. modern Sanskrit ‘vānara-karman’, from ‘vānara’ (monkey) and ‘karman’ (action, work, employment)

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How ‘mouse’, ‘muscle’ and ‘mussel’ are interrelated.

Classical Latin ‘muscŭlus’, literally ‘a little mouse’, also denoted ‘a muscle of the body’, especially of the upper arm, from the resemblance of a flexing muscle to the movements made by a mouse; ‘muscŭlus’ was also used in the sense of ‘mussel’.

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Anglo-Indian origin of ‘loot’ (goods stolen in war)

UK, early 19th century—private property taken from an enemy in war—originally an Anglo-Indian noun, from Hindi ‘lūṭ’, from Sanskrit ‘luṇṭh-‘, ‘to rob’—came to be also used as slang for ‘money’ and to also denote ‘wedding presents’

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How Horace Walpole coined ‘serendipity’.

    The noun serendipity denotes the faculty of making by accident discoveries that are both fortunate and unexpected. (It has been borrowed into Spanish as serendipia, into Italian as serendipità, and into French as sérendipité.) It was coined by the English writer and politician Horace Walpole (1717-97). In a letter that he wrote to his friend Horace Mann […]

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the authentic origin of ‘doolally’

Four’s a Crowd.—A merry, irresponsible farce that dips frequently into pure crazy comedy. For this they have chosen to give Errol Flynn and Olivia de Havilland a “break” from their usual story book hero and heroine types. These two lovely young people do very well, but I cannot think that crazy comedy suits them best. […]

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the probable origin of the word ‘posh’

  One of the earliest instances of posh is from a cartoon in Punch, or The London Charivari of 25th September 1918. An RAF officer is talking to his mother: “Oh, yes, Mater, we had a posh time of it down there.” “Whatever do you mean by ‘posh,’ Gerald?” “Don’t you know? It’s slang for […]

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