‘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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‘fang-farrier’: meaning and origin

a dentist—World War Two—slang of the British armed forces—was soon adopted into (and came to be regarded as) Australian English—earlier synonyms: ‘fang-faker’ and ‘fang-wrencher’

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‘grotty’: meaning and origin

UK—a general term of disapproval, meaning ‘unpleasant’, ‘dirty’, ‘nasty’, ‘ugly’, etc.—shortened form of ‘grotesque’—first recorded in (and popularised by) A Hard Day’s Night (1964), a musical comedy film starring the Beatles

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‘a fart in a spacesuit’: meaning and origin

UK, 1980—denotes someone or something that is unwelcome, unpopular, etc.—first recorded in a remark by the Scottish comedian Billy Connolly, but perhaps originated in Royal-Navy slang

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‘brolly hop’: meaning and origin

UK, 1933—a jump made with a parachute—hence also the verbal noun ‘brolly-hopping’ and the verb ‘brolly-hop’—‘brolly’ (university slang, late 19th century): a clipped and altered form of ‘umbrella’

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