‘London to a brick’: meanings and origin

Australia, 1909—(horseracing) a bet is sure to pay off; (in extended use) something is a very strong probability—from the notion that the punter is so confident of winning the bet that he is prepared to put the whole city of London on a horse to win a brick, i.e., a ten-pound note

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‘in mothballs’ | ‘out of mothballs’

USA—‘in mothballs’ (1892): in a state or period of inactivity, disuse, reserve, storage or postponement—‘out of mothballs’ (1905): back into activity, into use

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‘motherhood and apple pie’: meaning and origin

USA, 1956—denotes a core principle, value, belief, characteristic, aspect, etc., of the U.S.A. or its citizens—more generally, the nouns ‘motherhood’ and ‘apple pie’ have been juxtaposed in enumerations of things and persons exemplifying U.S. values

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‘loony doctor’: meaning and origin

from 1924 onwards in stories by English author P. G. Wodehouse—a facetious appellation for a medical practitioner specialising in the diagnosis and treatment of mental illness—‘loony’: shortened form of ‘lunatic’

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‘the men in (the) white coats’: meaning and origin

USA, 1936—psychiatrists or psychiatric workers—refers to the traditional use of white coats by medical personnel—often used in the stereotypical image of a mentally-disordered person being borne away to a psychiatric hospital by psychiatric workers

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‘armchair’ (attributive modifier)

The noun ‘armchair’ is used as an attributive modifier meaning: 1) based or taking place in the home as opposed to the world or environment outside; hence, chiefly depreciatively: 2) lacking or not involving practical or direct experience of a particular subject or activity.

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‘Astroturf’: meanings and origin

USA—1966: an artificial grass surface used for sports fields—‘Astro-’: from the first use of Astroturf in the Astrodome stadium at Houston, Texas—1972, with humorous allusion to ‘grassroots’: an artificial version of a grassroots campaign

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early figurative uses of ‘domino’

USA, 1954—used of a theory that a political event or development in one country, etc., will lead to its occurrence in others—the image is of a falling domino causing an entire row of upended dominoes to fall

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