meanings and origin of ‘dead-cat bounce’

from the notion that even a dead cat will bounce if dropped from a sufficient height—UK, 1981: a rapid fall in the stock market with hardly any reaction—USA, 1985: a rapid but short-lived recovery in the stock market after a sharp fall—hence, 1992: any spurious success

Read More

How a murder popularised ‘sugar daddy’ in 1923.

from ‘heavy-sugar daddy’ (USA, 1923), popularised by the murder of Anna Keenan (a.k.a. Dorothy King), who was a ‘heavy-sugar baby’, i.e., a woman ‘coated’ with ‘sugar’ (i.e., money) by a ‘daddy’ (i.e., an older man)

Read More

‘to use one’s loaf’ (‘to use one’s common sense’)

First recorded in The Leeds Mercury (Leeds, Yorkshire) of Friday 26 August 1938, the phrase ‘to use one’s loaf’ means ‘to use one’s common sense’. Here, ‘loaf’, a shortening of ‘loaf of bread’, is rhyming slang for ‘head’.

Read More

How a life jacket came to be named after Mae West.

From the name of the American film actress Mae West, renowned for her generous bust, the informal noun ‘Mae West’, attested in 1940, denotes an inflatable life jacket, originally as issued to Royal Air Force aviators during World War II.

Read More