meaning and origin of ‘red in tooth and claw’

UK, 1857—characterised by savage violence or merciless competition—from Alfred Tennyson’s poem ‘In Memoriam’ (1850), in which ‘red in tooth and claw’ refers to Nature’s brutality

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the probable origin of ‘monkey business’

UK, 1835—mischievous or deceitful behaviour—alludes to the proverbial playfulness of monkeys—probably modelled on Bengali ‘bãdrāmi’; cf. modern Sanskrit ‘vānara-karman’, from ‘vānara’ (monkey) and ‘karman’ (action, work, employment)

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meaning and origin of ‘the milk in the coconut’

‘the milk in the coconut’: a puzzling fact or circumstance; alludes to the question of how the milk got into the coconut—of British-English origin (1832), not of American-English origin as stated by the Oxford English Dictionary

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How poverty and war produced ‘latchkey child’.

originally: a child wearing the house key tied around their neck and staying in the streets while their mother is at work—USA, 1935: a poor Afro-American woman’s child—USA & UK, WWII: a child whose mother was engaged in war industry

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meanings and origin of ‘dead-cat bounce’

from the notion that even a dead cat will bounce if dropped from a sufficient height—UK, 1981: a rapid fall in the stock market with hardly any reaction—USA, 1985: a rapid but short-lived recovery in the stock market after a sharp fall—hence, 1992: any spurious success

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an inquiry into the various meanings of ‘green man’

three meanings: 1/ in outdoor pageants: a man dressed in greenery, representing a wild man of the woods—2/ in inn names and signs: a forester—3/ in medieval English churches: a representation of a man’s face composed of, surrounded by, or sprouting foliage or branches

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the British-English adjective ‘demob happy’

UK, 1945—‘demob happy’: feeling elated in anticipation of demobilisation from the armed forces—hence: in anticipation of the end of a job, assignment, etc.—in extended use: in anticipation of the end of any onerous or unpleasant period

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origin of ‘moonlight flit’ (hurried departure at night)

UK, 1823—‘a hurried departure at night, especially from rented accommodation to avoid payment of rent owed’—‘flit’, noun use of ‘to flit’, originally used in Scotland and Northern England to mean ‘to move house or leave one’s home’

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