‘spit and sawdust’: meaning and origin

UK, 1928—of a public-house: very basic and lacking in comforts—refers to the former practice of covering the floor of a public-house with sawdust into which customers spat

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‘a penny soul never came to twopence’

UK, 1844—extreme meanness never made anyone better off—compare Book of Proverbs, 11:24: “There is one who scatters, yet increases more; and there is one who withholds more than is right, but it leads to poverty.”

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‘Malley’s cow’: meaning and origin

Australia, 1951—used of someone who has departed and left no indication of their present whereabouts—purportedly from the story of one Malley, who was told by his boss to hold a cow; on the boss’s return, the cow had disappeared, and Malley said “She’s a goner!”

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‘Energizer bunny’: meaning and origin

USA, 1990—a persistent or indefatigable person or phenomenon—refers to ‘Energizer Bunny’, the name of a battery-operated toy rabbit represented as never running out of energy, featured from 1988 in a television advertising campaign for batteries

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‘ignorance is bliss’: meaning and origin

means that, if one is unaware of an unpleasant fact or situation, one cannot be troubled by it—coined by the English poet Thomas Gray in An Ode on a Distant Prospect of Eton College, first published in 1747

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