the cup that cheers

    The phrase the cup that cheers but not inebriates and its variants refer to tea as a drink which invigorates a person without causing drunkenness. It is from The Winter Evening, the fourth book of The Task. A Poem, in six Books (1785), by the English poet and letter-writer William Cowper (1731-1800): Now stir the fire, and close the […]

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Joe Bloggs

  Steve Cooper, playing Joe Bloggs in Monopoleyes, a play written by Will Travis, directed by Susan Mcardle and Paul Brannigan, and produced by Stolen Thread Productions Ltd, was interviewed on 25th October 2016: “You play Joe Bloggs – could you tell us a bit about your character and what your thoughts are on it?” “Like the play says, Joe is an […]

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peaceable kingdom

  one of the versions of The Peaceable Kingdom (circa 1834), by Edward Hicks image: National Gallery of Art (Washington DC)     The expression peaceable kingdom, in the sense of a state of harmony among all creatures as prophesied in the Book of Isaiah, 11:1-9, first appeared in the King James Version (1611):                       […]

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teetotal

  tombstone of Richard ‘Dicky’ Turner at Preston “Beneath this stone are deposited the remains of Richard Turner, author of the word teetotal as applied to abstinence from all intoxicating liquors, who departed this life on the 27th day of October 1846, aged 56 years.” photograph: Paul D. Swarbrick     The adjective teetotal in […]

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brunch

    A blend of breakfast and lunch, the noun brunch denotes a late morning meal eaten instead of breakfast and lunch. It originated, apparently in the late 19th century, as Oxford University slang and is first recorded in Lunch at Oxford, by Margaret B. Wright, published in The Independent (New York) of Thursday 22nd […]

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like a cat on hot bricks/on a hot tin roof

poster for Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (1958), an American film directed by Richard Brooks, based on the play by Tennessee Williams     The phrase like a cat on hot bricks and its American-English equivalent like a cat on a hot tin roof mean very agitated or anxious. An earlier form of the […]

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fed up

  Sunderland Day By Day HE SMASHED WINDOW— Because He Was “Fed Up” “I AM ‘fed up’; I have been out of work six years and I want to be locked up,” said John Scott (61), of Hood Street, Monkwearmouth, who appeared in the dock at Sunderland Police Court to-day accused of breaking a plate glass window, […]

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an axe to grind

  photograph: An Ax to Grind: A Practical Ax Manual – Federal Highway Administration     Of American origin, the expression to have an axe to grind (American spelling ax) means to have a private reason for doing, or being involved in, something. It has often been attributed to Benjamin Franklin¹. For example, the New […]

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French leave

  Sandra Dallas     MEANING   an unauthorised or unannounced absence or departure   ORIGIN   The earliest (and most curious) instance of the expression that I could find is in the anonymous novel Benedicta (1741). The heroine is about to get married: Mrs Butler, who on this extraordinary occasion, had taken French leave of her pillow, […]

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excuse my French

  advertisement from The Mid-Sussex Times of 27th March 1923: THE PICTURE THEATRE, HAYWARDS HEATH. “PARDON MY FRENCH” AND “A CERTAIN RICH MAN.” Do you enjoy a good laugh? If you do go and see “Pardon my French” at the Heath Theatre to-night or on Wednesday. It is a pert pot-pourri of pep and romance. [&c.]     […]

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