meaning and origin of ‘red herring’

Red herring, used in laying trails for hounds to follow, was misunderstood as a deliberate attempt to distract them, hence the figurative use of ‘red herring’.

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origin of ‘to sweat like a pig’

The pig probably symbolises the unpleasant fact of sweating profusely in the same way as it often represents greed, dirt, etc. in many other derogatory idioms.

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the fourth estate

  MEANING   the press; the profession of journalism   ORIGIN   The first known user of the expression, designating the ordinary people, was the English author and magistrate Henry Fielding (1707-54) writing, under the pseudonym of Sir Alexander Drawcansir, Knt. Censor of Great Britain, in The Covent-Garden Journal of Saturday 13th June 1752: It […]

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to beggar belief

   original illustration for Scribbleomania; Or, The Printer’s Devil’s Polichronicon (1815) by William Henry Ireland (Amabilis insania et mentis gratissimus error means A delightful insanity and a most pleasing error of the mind)     MEANING   The phrase to beggar belief (or description) means to be too extraordinary to be believed (or described).   […]

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