5
votes
3answers
75 views

What is the origin and sense of the phrase “put up or shut up”?

In researching the recent EL&U question Origins and Interpretations of "Put your money where your mouth is", I repeatedly came across the seemingly related but older phrase “put up or ...
1
vote
3answers
77 views

Origins and meaning of “Put your money where your mouth is”

I heard this phrase uttered by a Canadian (from Vancouver) once; it left me in awe and elicited my curiosity. Wikipedia was not helpful. What is its origin? Is this expression used more in certain ...
1
vote
1answer
88 views

Dull as ditchwater (not dishwater) … specific questions thereon

(1) who specifically, or at least when specifically, did originate the phrase? {Example answer - "that was one of Shakespeare's!"} (2) why? (3) when first did someone screw up and use ...
1
vote
1answer
80 views

Where did the phrase “drop the hammer” come from?

Where did the phrase "drop the hammer" come from? It's what you do when you start to go balls to the wall. I've only heard it rowing.
1
vote
1answer
148 views

Origin of “as all get out” meaning “to the utmost degree”

At reference.com, all get out is glossed as “in the extreme; to the utmost degree”, and at thefreedictionary.com as an unimaginably large amount; “British say ‘it rained like billyo’ where ...
0
votes
4answers
102 views

The “Oh to have…” expression [closed]

What does "Oh to have..." mean, as in "Oh to have a song in a national campaign" in Jon Lajoie's song "Please Use This Song"? Can somebody explain the origin and meaning of this expression? In what ...
6
votes
2answers
176 views

Where did the phrase “washing one's hands of” originate?

I know that the phrase "to wash one's hands of" comes from Pilate in the Bible, Matthew 27:24: When Pilate saw that he was getting nowhere, but that instead an uproar was starting, he took water ...
2
votes
3answers
231 views

What is the “pie” in “Cutie Pie”?

Cutie is a slang term used to refer to someone who is cute. Where did the word, pie, in the expression "Cutie Pie" come from? And what is the history behind this expression? I can't seem to find any ...
2
votes
2answers
395 views

What is the origin of “I calls ’em like I sees ’em”?

This expression seems to be pretty widespread, for example being in Wiktionary and Futurama. Does anyone know what the origin is? Also, what kind of dialect might I calls or I sees be?
7
votes
5answers
749 views

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
669 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
401 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 ...
2
votes
4answers
198 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
911 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
137 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
427 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
3answers
364 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
155 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
409 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
769 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
160 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
84 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
226 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
3answers
848 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
979 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
499 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
717 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
5k 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
248 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
335 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
114 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
5answers
411 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
6answers
8k 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
373 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
288 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
578 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 ...
3
votes
2answers
606 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
251 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 ...
-1
votes
2answers
797 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..."?
10
votes
7answers
18k 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
6k 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
3k 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
925 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
173 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
3k 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
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
416 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
331 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.
7
votes
5answers
31k 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
185 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 ...