‘worm’s-eye view’: meaning and origin

USA, 1898—a view as seen from below or from a humble position—refers to a view taken as from the standpoint of a worm, i.e. from ground-level—coined after ‘bird’s-eye view’ (1782), denoting a view of a landscape from above, such as is presented to the eye of a bird

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‘the order of the boot’: meaning and origin

dismissal from employment—UK, 1882, as ‘the noble order of the boot’—‘the boot’ refers to kicking somebody out—the phrase puns on two acceptations of ‘order’: an authoritative command and an institution founded for the purpose of honouring meritorious conduct

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‘Mr Fixit’: meaning and origin

USA, 1906—a man who fixes something, especially a man who, often illicitly, arranges matters or sets up deals—cf. ‘fixer’: one who, often illicitly, arranges or adjusts matters

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‘the thick plottens’: meaning and origin

USA, 1883—deliberate transposition of the initial consonants of ‘plot’ and ‘thickens’ in ‘the plot thickens’—‘the plot thickens’, attested in 1672, means: the storyline becomes more complex or convoluted

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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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‘Vaseline Valley’: meaning and origin

Australia, 1982—a stretch of Oxford Street, in Sydney, which is the city’s main gay district—refers to the use of Vaseline to ease anal intercourse, and based on the alliteration in /v/

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‘spit and sawdust’: meaning and origin

UK, 1928—of a public-house: very basic and lacking in comforts—refers to the former practice of covering the floor of a public-house with sawdust into which customers spat

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