‘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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‘lightbulb moment’: meaning and origin

USA, 1974—a moment of sudden realisation, enlightenment or inspiration—alludes to the representation of an illuminated lightbulb above a character’s head in a cartoon or comic strip, indicating that this character has had an idea

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‘omnishambles’: meaning and origin

a situation that has been completely mismanaged—from ‘omni-’ and ‘shambles’—coined by Tony Roche in the British television series The Thick of It (3rd series, episode 1, 24 October 2009)

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‘to drink the Kool-Aid’: meanings and origin

USA, 1978—to commit suicide; to demonstrate unquestioning obedience or loyalty—alludes to a mass suicide, in 1978, by members of the Peoples’ Temple in Jonestown, Guyana, who drank a cyanide-laced drink thought to be similar to Kool-Aid

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‘grease monkey’: meaning and origin

USA, 1918—a mechanic—since the 17th century, ‘monkey’ has been used (frequently with modifying word indicating the occupation concerned) to denote a person engaged in a trade or profession

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‘Taffia’: meaning and origin

UK, 1974—applied jocularly to any supposed network of prominent or influential Welsh people, especially one which is strongly nationalistic—a blend of ‘Taffy’, denoting a Welshman, and ‘Mafia’

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‘caught in the headlights’: meanings and origin

used of a person who is frozen with fright or surprise, or is trying to flee, as a result of suddenly becoming the focus of attention—alludes to the habit of deer and rabbits of stopping still when dazzled by the headlights of a motor vehicle, or of running away within the headlight beam

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‘bovver boy’ & ‘skinhead’: meaning and origin

UK, 1969—a young man of a working-class subculture, characterised by close-cropped hair, heavy boots and functional clothing, and behaving in an aggressive or violent way—‘bovver’ represents a nonstandard pronunciation of ‘bother’

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