‘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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‘to be not so green as one is cabbage-looking’

Australia, 1865—to be less of a fool than one appears to be—this phrase plays on two uses of the adjective ‘green’: 1) denoting the colour of growing vegetation, grass, etc. 2) denoting an inexperienced or naive person

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‘meat and two veg’: meanings and early occurrences

UK—literally, 1919: a dish consisting of meat served with two varieties of vegetable, seen as typical of traditional or unimaginative British cooking—figuratively, 1951: something simple and unsophisticated, or something indicative of simple and unsophisticated tastes

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‘pumpkinification’: meanings and origin

UK, 1849—transformation into a pumpkin; extravagant or absurdly uncritical glorification—coined after Hellenistic Greek ‘ἀποκολοκύντωσις’, the title of a travesty ascribed to Seneca, according to which the deceased Roman emperor Claudius, instead of being elevated to divine status, is changed into a pumpkin

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‘(as) fit as a mallee bull’: meaning and origin

Australia, 1960—very fit and well, in robust health—the image is of a bull strengthened by his living in one of the semi-desert areas of Australia in which the principal vegetation is mallee, i.e., low-growing bushy eucalyptus

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