‘Coggeshall job’: meaning and origin

any muddle-headed business—UK, 1813—the stupidity of the people of Coggeshall, a small town in Essex, England, has been proverbial since the mid-17th century

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meaning and origin of ‘Vicar of Bray’

one who changes their principles to suit the circumstances—from a vicar who was twice a Catholic and twice a Protestant from Henry VIII to Elizabeth I’s reigns

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meaning and origin of the phrase ‘to run the gauntlet’

                                           SOLDAT PASSE PAR LES BAGUETTES. Un des chatiments du soldat dans un camp c’est de le depouiller nud jusqu’a la ceinture sa chemise pendante sur ses chausses et le faire passer entre deux Rengées […]

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meaning and origin of ‘Hogs Norton’

The name Hogs Norton, also Hog’s Norton and Hogsnorton, denotes a fictional town renowned for its uncultured and boorish inhabitants. It has often been used in depreciative phrases suggesting that someone is a native or inhabitant of this town. These phrases have variously associated the name: – with present-day Hook Norton, a town in Oxfordshire […]

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meaning and origin of ‘to make (both) ends meet’

To make (both) ends meet means to earn just enough money to live on. It is first recorded in The History of the Worthies of England (1662), by the Church of England clergyman Thomas Fuller (1607/8-61). The author wrote the following about the English Protestant leader Edmund Grindal (1519-83) – in the original text, to […]

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‘a horse that was foaled of an acorn’: meaning and origin

    The phrase a horse that was foaled of an acorn denoted the gibbet, sometimes also called triple tree. In A Collection of English Proverbs (1678), the English naturalist and theologian John Ray (1627-1705) wrote: You’ll ride on a horse that was foal’d of an acorn. That is the gallows. Pelham; or, The Adventures […]

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