‘“Hell!” said the duchess’: meanings and origin

originated (1915) as the jocular beginning, destined to grip the reader’s attention, of a hypothetical novel or short story—soon (1919) came to be also used either without precise meaning or as a jocular exclamation

Read More

‘wogs begin at Calais’: meaning and origin

1947—is used to express an attitude of insularity and hostility to foreigners attributed to the British—a shortening of ‘golliwog’, the derogatory and offensive noun ‘wog’ designates a non-white person

Read More

‘singing milkshake’: meaning and origin

1979—nickname given, in particular, to singer Olivia Newton-John—alludes to the type of popular music that (like a milkshake) is discarded as soon as it has been consumed

Read More

‘overpaid, overdressed, oversexed and over here’

Australia and U.S.A, 1944—purportedly applied by the British and the Australians to the U.S. soldiers stationed in their respective countries during World War II—British self-deprecating retort: ‘underpaid, underdressed, undersexed and under Eisenhower’

Read More

‘not to have two yachts to rub together’

applied to a rich person complaining of having insufficient means of existence; to a person who is merely free from financial worry—USA, 1936—coined humorously after ‘not to have two pennies to rub together’

Read More

‘tickety-boo’: meaning, early occurrences and origin

UK, 1938—old-fashioned informal British-English adjective meaning ‘in good order’, ‘fine’—origin obscure: perhaps from Hindi ‘ṭhīk hai’ (‘all right’) or from ‘the ticket’ (‘the correct thing’); or it may simply be a purely fanciful formation

Read More

‘Mondayitis’: meaning and early occurrences

reluctance to attend school or work, or a reduction in working efficiency, experienced on a Monday morning—UK and USA, 1908; Australia, 1910—the suffix ‘-itis’ is applied to a state of mind or tendency fancifully regarded as a disease

Read More