‘to come a cropper’: meanings and origin

(literally): to fall heavily; (figuratively): to fail completely—UK, 1847—‘cropper’ may be derived from ‘crop’ in the phrase ‘neck and crop’ (1791), which originally referred to a heavy fall

Read More

‘pizza face’: meaning and origin

a person with facial acne—Californian high-school slang, 1963—in this expression, the pimples caused by facial acne are likened to slices of pepperoni on a pizza

Read More

‘to go for the jugular’: meaning and origin

to criticise or attack somebody aggressively or decisively; to target an adversary’s weakest or most vulnerable point—USA, 1879—the image is of attacking a person fatally in the throat or neck, where the jugular vein runs

Read More

‘early doors’ (near the beginning)

UK, 1976—the colloquial phrase ‘early doors’ means ‘early on’, ‘at an early stage’—frequently occurs in the context of football—of unknown origin

Read More

‘Generals January and February’: meaning and origin

personify January and February as army commanders, especially in reference to winter as detrimental or destructive to a military campaign—apparently coined by Russian Prince Alexander Menshikov in 1855, during the Crimean War

Read More