meaning and origin of ‘to a T’

‘with minute exactness’—UK, 1693—probably a shortening of synonymous ‘to a tittle’ (1607), ‘tittle’ meaning ‘a small mark used in writing or printing’

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‘to see a man about a dog’

UK, 1865—vague excuse for leaving to keep an undisclosed appointment, or, now frequently, to go to the toilet—perhaps originally with allusion to dogfighting

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origin of ‘spick and span’

mid-17th cent. in the sense ‘brand new’—from ‘spick and span new’, extension of ‘span new’, from Old Norse ‘spán-nýr’, ‘as new as a freshly cut wooden chip’

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origin of ‘point-blank’

1571—probably from obsolete French ‘de pointe en blanc’, used of firing into empty space for the purpose of seeing how far a piece of artillery would carry

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the origin of ‘spud’ (potato)

The noun ‘spud’, originally the name for the digging implement used to dig up potatoes, was applied to the latter in the 19th century.

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meaning and origin of ‘incunabula’

Latin ‘incunabula’: ‘swaddling clothes’, hence ‘beginning’—denotes the early printed books (from the 1450s to the end of the 15th century)

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origin of ‘geek’

19th century, northern England—apparently a variant of ‘geck’, of Germanic origin, meaning ‘a fool’, ‘a dupe’, ‘an oaf’

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