‘to give a raspberry’: meanings and origin

‘raspberry’: a rude sound (suggestive of breaking wind) made by blowing with the tongue between the lips, as an expression of mockery or contempt—UK, 1888—‘raspberry’ (short for ‘raspberry tart’): rhyming slang for ‘fart’

Read More

‘godwottery’: meanings and origin

gardening or garden design in an affected, fussily decorative or over-elaborate style; archaic and affected language—UK, 1931—alludes to “A garden is a lovesome thing, God wot!”, in My Garden (1893), by the Manx poet T. E. Brown

Read More

‘prunes and prism(s)’: meaning and origin

a prim or affected facial expression or manner of speaking; affected mannerisms, superficial accomplishments—originally, in Little Dorrit (1857), by Charles Dickens, a phrase spoken aloud in order to form the lips into an attractive shape

Read More

figurative uses of ‘hardy annual’

The noun ‘hardy annual’ denotes a plant that can withstand freezing temperatures and which completes its life cycle within a year. In British English, this noun is used figuratively of a thing or a person that reappears continually or at regular intervals.

Read More

sense evolution of ‘rhubarb’: from theatre to nonsense

UK—‘rhubarb’ is colloquially used to denote ‘nonsense’—originated in the theatrical practice consisting for a group of actors in repeating the word ‘rhubarb’ to represent an indistinct background conversation or the noise of a crowd

Read More

‘the land of fruits and nuts’: meanings and origin

U.S.A, 1932—also ‘the land of nuts and fruits’—a humorous, sometimes derogatory, appellation for the U.S. state of California—refers to California’s agricultural bounties and to Californians regarded as being ‘nuts’, i.e., crazy

Read More