‘everything’s apples’: meaning and origin

Australia, 1941—‘apples’ is used in phrases such as ‘everything’s apples’, meaning ‘everything is all right’—perhaps from ‘apple-pie order’—may have originated in the Australian armed forces’ slang during World War II

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‘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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‘Lushington’: meaning and origin

UK, 1819—has been used in various jocular phrases referring to alcohol consumption—punningly alludes to ‘lush’, which, as a noun, denotes alcoholic drink, and, as a verb, means to consume alcohol—‘the City of Lushington’: a convivial society, consisting chiefly of actors, which met at the Harp Tavern, London

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‘to be a box of birds’: meaning and origin

Australia and New Zealand, 1939—to be in good spirits, ‘chirpy’—the image is of a boxful of chirping birds (cf. the extended form ‘happy as a bird in a box of birdseed’)—New-Zealand variant ‘to be a box of fluffy ducks’, also ‘to be a box of fluffies’

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‘Adam and Eve’ (to believe)

UK, 1925—the verb ‘Adam and Eve’ is rhyming slang for ‘to believe’—there is no truncation, contrary to the usual rhyming-slang formation (cf. ‘scooby’, rhyming slang for ‘clue’, which is short for ‘Scooby Doo’)

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‘to spin a yarn’: meaning and origin

UK and USA, 1816—to tell a long, far-fetched story—of nautical origin? (perhaps alludes to making ropes from lengths of yarn on board ship: the men would have told one another stories while performing this long and tedious task)

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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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‘Liverpool pantile’: meaning and origin

UK, 1870—a very hard ship’s biscuit—refers to the fact that these sea-biscuits were particularly carried by Liverpool merchant ships; likens the shape and hardness of these sea-biscuits to those of pantiles, i.e. roofing tiles curved to an ogee shape

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