‘bullamacow’: meanings and origin

islands of the South Pacific, 1881—cattle, beef, and, by extension, meat of any kind and tinned meat—a combination of the nouns ‘bull’ and ‘cow’

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‘Queen Anne front and Mary Ann back’

UK and USA, 1889—used of anything that is speciously high-class in appearance, but is commonplace in reality—‘Queen Anne’ means ‘beautiful’, as opposed to ‘Mary Ann’, meaning ‘vile’; ‘low’; ‘mean’

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‘a fart in a spacesuit’: meaning and origin

UK, 1980—denotes someone or something that is unwelcome, unpopular, etc.—first recorded in a remark by the Scottish comedian Billy Connolly, but perhaps originated in Royal-Navy slang

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‘alcoholiday’: meaning and origin

UK, 1877—humorous: a holiday or period of leisure spent drinking alcoholic liquor—blend of the nouns ‘alcohol’ and ‘holiday’—has, in the course of time, been coined on separate occasions by various persons, independently from one another

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‘morning, noon and night’: meaning and early occurrences

UK, 1741—all day, incessantly—also, in early use, ‘morn, noon and night’—different from the juxtaposition of the nouns ‘morning’, ‘noon’ and ‘night’, which refers to an action taking place first in the morning, then at noon, and finally at night

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‘adorkable’: meaning and origin

USA, 1999—unfashionable or socially awkward in a way regarded as appealing or endearing—blend of ‘adorable’ and ‘dork’—the noun ‘dork’ denotes an odd, socially awkward, unstylish person

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‘another brick in the wall’: meanings and origin

a small component of a much larger structure, system or process; an insignificant individual within a large population or community—commonly associated with ‘Another Brick in the Wall’, the title of a three-part composition by the British band Pink Floyd in their 1979 rock opera ‘The Wall’, but has been used since 1867

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‘Piccadilly window’: meaning and origin

UK, 1897—‘Piccadilly window’: a monocle—hence ‘Piccadilly-windowed’: monocled—alludes to ‘Piccadilly’, the name of a street and of a circus (i.e., a rounded open space) in London

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‘in mothballs’ | ‘out of mothballs’

USA—‘in mothballs’ (1892): in a state or period of inactivity, disuse, reserve, storage or postponement—‘out of mothballs’ (1905): back into activity, into use

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