‘a memory like a sieve’: meanings and origin

17th century—contrasts what the mind remembers with what it forgets (with reference to the opposition between the coarser particles, which are retained by a sieve, and the finer ones, which pass through it)—denotes an extremely poor memory (with reference to the fact that a sieve does not hold all its contents)

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the forgotten origin of ‘cock-a-hoop’

from the 16th-century phrase ‘to set cock a hoop’, ‘to set (the) cock on (the) hoop’, apparently meaning ‘to put the cock (= spigot) on a barrel hoop and let the liquor flow prior to a drinking bout’—‘cock’ later equated with the fowl and ‘hoop’ with French ‘huppe’ (tufted crest)

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