‘toffee-nosed’: meaning and origin

UK, 1914—snobbish or supercilious—refers perhaps to ‘toff’, denoting a fashionable upper-class person—the image is perhaps of someone who, considering themself superior, keeps their nose high in contempt for the lower classes—cf. the form ‘toffy-nosed’ (1919)

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‘pound-noteish’: meaning and origin

UK, 1927—affected, pompous—from ‘pound note’ and the suffix ‘-ish’, meaning ‘having the qualities of’—the image is probably of someone who pretends to be worth a pound sterling when they are actually worth less

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‘wood-and-water joey’: meaning and origin

Australia, 1847—an odd-job man—‘wood-and-water’ alludes to the phrase ‘hewer of wood and drawer of water’, designating a labourer of the lowest kind—‘joey’ is perhaps the noun denoting a young kangaroo, and by extension anything young or small

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‘rosinback’: meaning and origin

USA, 1896, circus slang—a horse used by a bareback rider or acrobat—rosin was rubbed on the horse’s back to prevent the rider or acrobat from slipping

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‘Spam medal’: meaning and origin

military slang, 1944—a medal awarded to all members of a force—especially the 1939-1945 Star, awarded to British service personnel who took part in WWII—refers to the ubiquitousness of Spam as a foodstuff

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‘short-arm inspection’: meaning and origin

USA, 1917—originally and chiefly military slang—an inspection of the penis for venereal disease or other infection—the image is of the penis as an additional, but shorter, limb

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‘spine-bash’: meaning and origin

Australia—meaning: (as a verb) to rest or spend time in an aimless, idle way; (as a noun) an instance or period of resting—origin: Army slang, Second World War, from the notion of lying on one’s back

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‘to come a gutser’: meanings and origin

Australian soldiers’ slang, 1917—literally: to fall heavily; figuratively: to suffer a failure or defeat—‘gutser’ (Scotland, 1901): originally denoted a belly flop—derived from ‘gut’ in the sense of the belly

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