‘to have both oars in the water’: meaning and origin

USA, 1977—to be mentally stable—usually depreciatively in negative contexts, as ‘not to have both oars in the water’—refers to the necessity of dipping both the oars into the water to keep a rowing boat steady and steer it in a straight line

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‘Queensberry rules’: meanings and origin

UK, 1872—the standard rules of boxing— figuratively: the standard rules of polite or acceptable behaviour—named after John Sholto Douglas, 8th Marquess of Queensberry, who supervised the preparation of the rules of boxing

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‘loony bin’: meaning and origin

1909 to 1923 in stories by English author P. G. Wodehouse—a facetious appellation for a home or hospital for people with mental illnesses—‘loony’: shortened form of ‘lunatic’

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‘like billy-o’: meaning and origin

UK, 1860—very much, very intensely—‘billy-o’ occurs only in this phrase—it is apparently composed of ‘Billy’, pet form of the male forename ‘William’, and the suffix ‘-o’, used to form slang and colloquial nouns, adjectives and interjections

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