‘funny bone’: meaning and origin

UK, 1826—a place behind the bony point of the elbow at which a knock results in a sensation of tingling pain—in early use was perhaps partly punning on the homophones ‘humerus’ and ‘humorous’

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‘globaloney’: meaning and origin

USA, 1943—nonsensical or absurd talk or ideas concerning global issues—blend of ‘global’ and ‘baloney’—coined by Clare Boothe Luce in her maiden speech to the House of Representatives

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‘the whole caboodle’: meaning and origin

USA, 1839—the whole group or set of people, animals or things—origin unknown—perhaps from the Dutch expression ‘de hele kit en boedel’, meaning ‘the entire house and everything in it’

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‘the whole boodle’: meaning and origin

USA, 1814—the whole group or set of people, animals or things—corresponds to modern Dutch ‘de hele boel’ (earlier ‘de hele boedel’)—‘boodle’: from Dutch ‘boedel’, estate, property, a large quantity

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‘cahoot’: meaning and early occurrences

southern United States of America, 1827—used almost exclusively in the phrase ‘in cahoots’ (in early use ‘in cahoot’, ‘in cohoot’), meaning colluding or conspiring together secretly—origin unknown

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‘like a headless chicken’: meaning and origin

USA, 1853—in a panic-stricken and unthinking manner—alludes to the phenomenon whereby a chicken can move about for a short time after decapitation, due to reflex activity of the nervous system

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‘martini lunch’: meaning and origin

USA, 1950—a midday meal, with several martinis taken as aperitifs, enjoyed by businessmen, and/or politicians, and/or federal-government employees—especially in ‘two-martini lunch’ and ‘three-martini lunch’

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‘in a cleft stick’: meaning and origin

UK, 1710—in a situation in which any action one takes will have adverse consequences—‘cleft’, past participle of the verb ‘cleave’, means ‘split in two to a certain depth’—the image is of one being squeezed between the stick’s prongs

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