‘slipshod’: ‘wearing loose shoes or slippers’

‘slipshod’: ‘characterised by a lack of care, thought or organisation’—formed after the obsolete noun ‘slip-shoe’ (= ‘a loosely fitting shoe or slipper’); ‘shod’ (meaning ‘wearing shoes’) is the past participle of the verb ‘shoe’

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the colonial origin of the word ‘kidnap’

original meaning of ‘kidnap’, late 17th century—to steal or carry off children or others in order to provide servants or labourers for the American plantations

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meaning and origin of ‘one man’s meat is another man’s poison’

  RAILWAY MANIA. WRITTEN AND ILLUSTRATED BY ALFRED CROWQUILL. Railway Speculation has become the sole object of the world—cupidity is aroused, and roguery shields itself under its name, as a more safe and rapid way of gaining its ends. Abroad as well as at home, has it proved the rallying point of all rascality—the honest […]

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the origin and various meanings of ‘grimalkin’

    In The Tragedie of Macbeth (around 1603), by the English poet and playwright William Shakespeare (1564-1616), Gray-Malkin is the name of a fiend in the shape of a grey she-cat, the cat being the form most generally assumed by the familiar spirits of witches according to a common superstition: (Folio 1, 1623)             […]

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meanings and history of the term ‘fag end’

      MEANINGS   – the last part of something, especially when regarded as less important or interesting – British, informal: a cigarette end   ORIGIN   The obsolete adjective flag, attested in the late 16th century, meant flabby, hanging down. It was either an onomatopoeic formation or, via Middle French flac, from Latin […]

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