‘Bardolatry’: meaning and origin

excessive reverence for William Shakespeare—1901, coined by George Bernard Shaw—from ‘the Bard’, an epithet of William Shakespeare, and the combining form ‘-olatry’, forming nouns with the sense ‘worship of’, ‘excessive reverence for’

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‘summer of discontent’: meaning and origin

UK—the summer of 2022, during which numerous strikes took place—alludes to ‘winter of discontent’, i.e., the winter of 1978-79, during which widespread strikes took place in protest against the government’s wage limits

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‘panier de crabes’: meaning and origin

1942—an arena of fierce or ruthless rivalry—borrowed from French: literally ‘basket of crabs’—the image is of crabs fighting, if not devouring one another, when kept in a basket

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‘witching hour’: meanings and origin

1762: the time of night when it is said that witches are active and supernatural occurrences take place—alludes to ‘the witching time of night’ in Shakespeare’s Hamlet—also (1985): the last hour of trading each month when exchange-traded stock options expire

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‘to out-Herod Herod’ | ‘to out-Zola Zola’

the phrases built on the pattern ‘to out-X X’, in which ‘X’ is a person’s name, mean to be superior to X in his or her characteristics—the prefix ‘out-’ has been used to form verbs conveying the sense of surpassing, exceeding or beating in the action described by the simple verb

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‘parting shot’ | ‘Parthian shot’

‘parting shot’ (1817); ‘Parthian shot’ (1822): a sharp, telling remark, act, gesture, etc., made in departing—‘parting shot’: literally the final shot fired at the moment of departure—‘Parthian shot’: refers to the Parthian horsemen’s habit of shooting arrows backwards while in real or pretended retreat

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‘to break a butterfly on a wheel’: meaning and origin

to use unnecessary force in destroying something fragile—alludes to a wheel used as an instrument of torture—first occurs in An Epistle from Mr. Pope, to Dr. Arbuthnot (1734), by the English poet Alexander Pope (1688-1744), who perhaps coined this phrase

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