6
votes
4answers
202 views
+200

Origin of the phrase “mother's ruin”?

I was under the impression that the phrase "mother's ruin" came from the England in the 1800's, where many people living in London did so in absolute poverty, and gin (the so-called "mother's ruin") ...
0
votes
2answers
62 views

Knocked up, two very different meanings. But why and how did the phrase split? [duplicate]

In American English, "Knocked up" means "pregnant." I just found out via an article regarding jobs that no longer exist that in British English, they use use the phrase "Knocked up in a completely ...
0
votes
1answer
46 views

Bora Bora, Here We Come

Saw this phrase/expression in CIBC advertisement. The pleased client asked, "should we re-investment or expand", and the bank clerk said, "you can do both", then the old lady in the back happily ...
1
vote
2answers
77 views

Why do the words ducky and jake mean fine or satisfactory?

Even the Merriam-Webster dictionary acknowledges both ducky and jake as acceptable terms meaning fine or satisfactory and it dates the word ducky back to 1897 and jake to 1914. Does anyone know how ...
6
votes
7answers
286 views

Where does “my ass” come from?

The usage of my ass to mean me is now relatively common. My impression is that it originated from AAVE and has since been included in various other dialects. The NGram below implies it became popular ...
1
vote
1answer
72 views

Etymology of “second to none”

second to none To the ears of a non-native speaker, mine anyway, this expression sounds very laborious. Where does it come from? Is it not contrary to the idea that English is a ...
2
votes
2answers
160 views

Origin of the phrase “on the wrong side of history”

I've been hearing the phrase "on the wrong side of history" a lot lately, most recently today when President Obama said that Russia was on "the wrong side of history" for its actions in Ukraine. ...
4
votes
2answers
163 views

What is the origin of the word 'mug up'?

What is the origin of the expression mug up? How did it originate? Does it give any meaning to its actual definition?
0
votes
3answers
95 views

What is the meaning of the expression?

What does "Get all you can, can all you get, sit on the can." mean? It seems that Google can't help me with this one. Could you also explain its origin and how it is related to the meaning?
0
votes
2answers
134 views

How did the phrase “hear you out” or “hear me out” come about?

How did the phrase "hear you out" or "hear me out" come about? The phrase means "listen to whatever I have to say before you pass judgment on me," or "tell me whatever you want; I don't mind and ...
3
votes
5answers
207 views

Where does “spinning in his grave” come from?

To quote Demitri Martin (taken from this session at around 0:57): When there's someone who's dead and then someone does something that that person would not have liked, they say that that person ...
0
votes
1answer
124 views

The elephant in the room

Where does the phrase "The elephant in the room" come from ? Why an elephant ? If it has to mean something big why not "the whale in the room" ? If it has to be something that needs urgent attention ...
1
vote
1answer
54 views

What is the origin of the phrase “a map is not the territory”?

The phrase "a map is not the territory" is identified with the philosopher of science Alfred Korzybski and his 1931 lecture at an American Mathematical Society meeting. In both of its prominent ...
2
votes
2answers
112 views

“To Cut Stick” Origin

I am reading Uncle Tom's Cabin. When Eliza realizes she and her son will be split up by a business deal, she runs away with him during the night. In the ensuing commotion the next morning, a boy named ...
2
votes
2answers
235 views

What is the exclamation “Why, I never!” a contraction of?

The exclamation "Why, I never!" is a well-worn exclamation (I think more common in Britain than in the US?), often used to express indignation upon having been accused of something. The structure of ...
3
votes
5answers
311 views

Why do you “let out the clutch” when you technically “engage” it?

In a simplified view, there's a motor and a gearbox and when they both are connected the gearbox makes the motor work. You only can shift the gear when both motor and gearbox are disconnected. For ...
4
votes
3answers
304 views

Origin of “Very Good, Sir!”

It's quite likely you've read a P.G. Wodehouse book. Well, then you'd also know about Jeeves, and something he says quite often: Very good, sir. Jeeves is a butler. And he isn't the only one to ...
5
votes
2answers
274 views

Origin of the expression “landed in a tub of butter” (meaning lucky)?

I've heard a friend say "he says he was so lucky, it's like he sat his ass in a butter tub" a few times. Even though I'm from the same area (northeast USA) as the speaker, the expression wasn't ...
4
votes
1answer
2k views

Origin of “Screw the pooch”

Wiktionary says this of "screw the pooch": The term was first documented in the early "Mercury" days of the US space program. It came there from a Yale graduate named John Rawlings who helped ...
8
votes
1answer
143 views

What is the origin of the term “fresh fish”?

I'd only ever encountered this term in more modern movies and literature—typically in a prison setting—referring to new, and therefore more vulnerable, inmates. Recently, however, I noticed its use in ...
6
votes
1answer
176 views

Where does “pop it in the oven” come from?

Where and when did the phrase "pop it in the oven" originate?
2
votes
1answer
84 views

What's the meaning of “as ignorant as the last joined drummer boy”?

I encountered this expression here Napoleon once described Ney as 'ignorant of my projects as the last joined drummer boy', yet he still made him Commander of the Army's left wing at Waterloo. I ...
4
votes
4answers
233 views

What is the meaning of the expression “A one paper kid” or “One paper kid”

This is a country song title by the late Walter Martin Cowart and has been covered by several artists. Is this a local expression or slang term perhaps used in the American southern states?
5
votes
5answers
3k views

“Bald Faced Lie” vs. “Bold Faced Lie”

Which of these is correct? What is the origin of this expression? I've searched here on the exchange and haven't found an answer.
2
votes
4answers
226 views

Etymology of the phrase “Twenty-three Skidoo” as used in “Hey Arnold!”

The phrase “Twenty-Three Skidoo” has a very interesting and mysterious history described very thoroughly by the wikipedia article on the phrase. However, this article seems to indicate it’s usually ...
2
votes
1answer
167 views

The Origin of “Killing It”

Related to How did kil get its positive conntations. Which goes into the origin of "making a killing" and "killed the audience", but not this specific phrase. Musicians have a particular phrase for ...
1
vote
3answers
364 views

Did the CIA really introduce 'conspiracy theory' into popular usage after JFK?

I heard that after the JFK assassination the CIA, through assets in mass media, introduced the term 'conspiracy theory', with it connotations of something clearly ridiculous, and only believed by ...
2
votes
2answers
344 views

Where did the expression “achievement unlocked” come from?

Why achievement is unlocked? Achievement is not a lock, door or safe. You don't get anything after unlocking. I have an assumption that it came from gaming history, word "unlocked" just transferred ...
5
votes
2answers
179 views

What is the origin of the idiom “tight fit” meaning a good joke?

I've recently been studying etymology and I received a book titled Flappers 2 Rappers: A Study of American Youth Slang written by Dr. Thomas Dalzell. Dr. Dalzell's research goes as far back as the ...
0
votes
1answer
397 views

Build a house, plant a tree, father a son

What is the origin of the phrase (and the principle) "build a house/home, plant a tree, father/raise a son/child" and its derivation (perhaps) "write a book, plant..."?
8
votes
5answers
7k views

Origin of the expression “Dead to rights”?

I was watching a TV show and this term was used. I am familiar with the definition, but I was wondering the origin of the phrase. It does not make sense to me if taken literally. Reference
2
votes
2answers
3k views

What is the origin of the phrase “pinky promise”?

A pinky promise (or "pinky swear") is a gesture in which two parties interlock little fingers in a symbolic gesture of agreement. What is the origin of this phrase? One possibility, and probably the ...
1
vote
2answers
2k views

How and when did “give it up for someone” start to mean asking for applause? [duplicate]

I recently attended a meeting where the speaker frequently used the phrase give it up for someone. I understand that this expression means to clap for the person or group mentioned. It is similar to ...
3
votes
2answers
251 views

Origin of the term “High and dry”

The term "high and dry" has always confused me. As in the case provided by the Merriam Webster online dictionary: The inadequate supplies of vaccine left many people high and dry when the flu ...
1
vote
2answers
111 views

What is the origin of the phrase “take it from the top?”

"Take it from the top" is often used in musical rehearsals to mean "start at the beginning." Where did this phrase come from?
12
votes
3answers
1k views

What is the origin of “like a bat out of hell”?

As far as I know, this expression means to appear suddenly and in a scary way. But what is its origin? I heard that it comes from Meat Loaf's song but I'd like to confirm it with reliable sources, if ...
0
votes
0answers
48 views

What do people mean when they say a movie is/was “cheesy”? [duplicate]

What do people mean when they say a movie is/was "cheesy"? And what's the origin of the expression? Thank you.
0
votes
0answers
39 views

Dating the use of an expression [duplicate]

Would the expression " Keep your hair on " have been used in the 15th century
4
votes
6answers
354 views

Words Inspired by Television

In 2001, the word "d'oh" was added to the Oxford English Dictionary after years and years of being Homer Simpson's catchphrase on the American TV show The Simpsons. Are there any other words that ...
3
votes
1answer
217 views

What is the etymology of “So long”?

What's the origin of this strange substitute for farewell? We say it all the time, but I can't figure its meaning.
6
votes
3answers
17k views

“Hot mess” meaning and etymology

A phrase has started to be used somewhat frequently over the past few years: "hot mess". I have heard it in professional journalism (albeit, admittedly, mostly entertainment and/or gossip ...
1
vote
2answers
143 views

“Thunderstorm” vs. “tempest” in common usage

When did "thunderstorm" replace "tempest" in common English usage? I ask the question because my great-great grandmother, who lived in South Weymouth, Massachusetts, used the term frequently in her ...
1
vote
2answers
538 views

Origin of the term “eating your own dog food”

I'm trying to find the first usage of the term "eating your own dogfood", as a reference to companies, especially software companies, using their own products in house in order to more effectively ...
25
votes
4answers
2k views

Why do we say that an obscene joke is “off-color”?

Why do we say that an obscene joke is "off-color"? Is a G-rated joke "on-color"? What color? When and how did this idiomatic expression come from?
6
votes
2answers
2k views

Origin of “how we/I roll”?

The phrase "that's how we roll" (along with variants) seems to have become increasingly popular in recent years. It appears to draw attention to one's behavior or policies, asserting -- sometimes ...
3
votes
2answers
982 views

Suit Yourself origins?

The young daughter of a friend of mine said, "I think 'suit yourself' comes from a lazy tailor," which cracked us up. It also got me wondering. I did the obligatory google search and came up with ...
0
votes
1answer
715 views

What does “Nine Below Zero” mean?

There is a Blues Standard "Nine Below Zero" and I wonder what the phrase means. The chorus is Nine Below Zero, she put me down for another And it would also be super interesting where this ...
5
votes
4answers
4k views

What is the origin of the phrase “hate your guts”?

Where does the phrase "hate your guts" (for example "I hate your guts") come from? I've heard the phrase used as a way to convey extreme and deep dislike of another individual. However, it seems ...
-1
votes
2answers
3k views

“See you in the funny papers”: etymology and meaning

I've heard people saying that "See you in the funny papers" means "I'll see you later," as in "Good Bye," but I always thought that it means "Good bye," as in "I'll never see you again." I thought ...
9
votes
5answers
753 views

Original Meaning and Derivation of “Ever and Anon”

A question posted today asks about the Use of “ever” in non-negated sentence, and one answer happens to mention the phrase "ever and anon." That phrase, with the meaning "occasionally or repeatedly," ...