meaning and origin of ‘j’accuse’

1899—public accusation in response to a perceived injustice—from the title of an open letter (1898) by Émile Zola, condemning the imprisonment of Alfred Dreyfus

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the liturgical origin of ‘Quasimodo’

in full ‘Quasimodo Sunday’: the Sunday after Easter—from the opening words of the Latin introit for that day, ‘quasimodo geniti infantes’, ‘as newborn babies’

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meaning and origin of the phrase ‘to push up daisies’

  photograph: Max Pixel       Several colloquial phrases associate daisies with being dead: under the daisies, which means dead and buried, to push up (the) daisies and to turn one’s toes up to the daisies, which mean to be in one’s grave, to be dead. The Clare Journal, and Ennis Advertiser (Ireland) of […]

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meaning and origin of the term ‘loose cannon’

  naval gunnery in the old days An 18-ton gun in action at the bombardment of Alexandria. The gun has just recoiled after firing. No. 1 is “serving the vent.” The sponge end is being passed to be thrust out of the small scuttle in the middle of the port (which is closed as soon […]

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origin of ‘dandelion’ and of its French equivalent ‘pissenlit’

  the 1905 edition of Le Petit Larousse illustré, a French-language encyclopaedic dictionary published by the Éditions Larousse In 1890, Eugène Grasset (1845-1917) designed the image of la Semeuse (the Sower) blowing dandelion seeds, which accompanies the motto of the Éditions Larousse, Je sème à tout vent (I sow to the four winds).   The word […]

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