‘Christmas hold’: meaning and origin

also ‘Christmas grip’—Australia, prison slang, 1953—a grabbing of another’s testicles—based on the image is of a handful of nuts, alludes to ‘nut’, denoting a dry fruit consisting of an edible kernel enclosed in a hard or leathery shell, and a testicle

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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.

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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

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‘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

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‘frogspawn’ (tapioca pudding)

UK, 1921—‘frogspawn’: a jocular appellation for ‘tapioca pudding’ (also for ‘sago pudding’)—originated in schoolchildren’s slang—refers to the fact that both tapioca pudding and sago pudding very much resemble frogspawn, i.e., a soft substance like jelly which contains the eggs of a frog

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‘a grape on the business’: meaning and origin

Australia, 1939—someone whose presence spoils things for others; an odd person out—of unknown origin—perhaps a variant of ‘gooseberry’, as in ‘to play gooseberry’—perhaps an alteration of ‘gripe’—perhaps related in some respect to ‘sour grapes’

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‘green thumb’: meaning and origin

British, 1907—denotes considerable talent or ability to grow plants—in this phrase, the adjective ‘green’ refers to the colour of growing vegetation—1921: ‘green-thumbed’ (adjective)

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‘green fingers’: meaning and origin

British, 1906—denotes considerable talent or ability to grow plants—in this phrase, the adjective ‘green’ refers to the colour of growing vegetation—1914: ‘green-fingered’ (adjective)

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