‘chardonnay socialist’: meaning and origin

Australia, 1985—a person who espouses socialist ideals while enjoying a wealthy lifestyle—coined after the synonymous expression ‘champagne socialist’—popularised by Emerald City (1987), by the Australian playwright David Williamson

Read More

‘a cup of tea, a Bex and a good lie down’: meanings and origin

Australia, 1965—a panacea; a source of comfort; also indicates the need for a rest to settle down—originated in ‘A Cup of Tea, a Bex and a Good Lie Down’ (1965), a satiric revue by John McKellar—‘Bex’ was a proprietary name for a type of analgesic

Read More

‘hellzapoppin’’: meaning and origin

USA, 1896—one-word form representing a colloquial pronunciation of the phrase ‘hell’s a poppin’’ (1875)—meaning: ‘events are unfolding in a chaotic manner’; ‘a state of confusion and disarray is taking hold’—the verb ‘pop’ means ‘to suddenly break open’

Read More

‘royal we’: meaning and origin

UK, 1821—‘we’ used in place of ‘I’ by a monarch or other person in power, also (frequently humorously) by any individual—originated as a loan translation from French ‘nous royal’, as used of Napoléon Bonaparte by Madame de Staël in her memoirs published in 1821

Read More

‘to run like a hairy goat’: meanings and origin

Australia, 1912—of a racehorse: to perform very badly—also in extended use and in the opposite sense—from ‘hairy goat’ (1894): a racehorse which performs badly—synonym ‘hairy dog’ (1908)

Read More

‘to out-Herod Herod’ | ‘to out-Zola Zola’

the phrases built on the pattern ‘to out-X X’, in which ‘X’ is a person’s name, mean to be superior to X in his or her characteristics—the prefix ‘out-’ has been used to form verbs conveying the sense of surpassing, exceeding or beating in the action described by the simple verb

Read More

‘Lushington’: meaning and origin

UK, 1819—has been used in various jocular phrases referring to alcohol consumption—punningly alludes to ‘lush’, which, as a noun, denotes alcoholic drink, and, as a verb, means to consume alcohol—‘the City of Lushington’: a convivial society, consisting chiefly of actors, which met at the Harp Tavern, London

Read More

‘swellegant’: meaning and origin

USA, 1901—wonderfully stylish, elegant or fashionable—a blend of ‘swell’ and ‘elegant’—popularised by its use in the song Well, Did You Evah!, interpreted by Bing Crosby and Frank Sinatra in the 1956 film High Society

Read More