3
votes
1answer
54 views

Is William Blake's usage of “to break a net” idiomatic or metaphorical?

The following passage is from William Blake's 1793 work "The Marriage of Heaven and Hell": A man carried a monkey about for a shew, & because he was a little wiser than the monkey, grew vain, ...
2
votes
3answers
137 views

Origin of “to be in fat city”?

What is the origin of the phrase "to be in fat city" meaning "to do well" (financially or otherwise)? A search with an internet search engine suggests that it is of fairly recent vintage, as the two ...
2
votes
1answer
98 views

Is “steel breeze” an idiom?

I had only known of the phrase from the lyrics to the Pink Floyd song Shine on you crazy diamond and had always assumed that they had coined it. However, I stumbled upon a book by Alastair Reynolds ...
0
votes
1answer
691 views

Why do we “shed” blood, sweat or tears but not other things?

I found the following definition of shed (the verb): chiefly dialect : to set apart : segregate to cause to be dispersed without penetrating a. to cause (blood) to flow by cutting or ...
4
votes
2answers
2k views

What does “enough” mean in expressions like “Fair enough” or “Funny enough”?

As a non-native speaker, I already get used to the word enough in expressions like those below, but I sometimes still got confused of it. It makes me wonder what it actually means and where does it ...
9
votes
5answers
7k views

Why “hoist” in “Hoist with one's own petard”?

He was hoist with his own petard is one of my father's favorite phrases. As a child I had developed a vague understanding of the idiom in which petard was a kind of flag, which is why it was hoist, ...
1
vote
1answer
153 views

Who translated “He's a muddled fool, full of lucid intervals.” [closed]

I have revised herein my question of Aug 18 and update my research based on the most helpful suggestions of Peter Schor and tchrist of Aug 18, 2013. I'm not a Cervantista and don't speak Spanish. ...
6
votes
4answers
484 views

What is the role of “every” in idioms like “every so often”?

There are a couple of idioms whose meaning is from time to time or occasionally. Every so often (Every) once in a while (Every) now and then/again Every actually is a determiner (or, broadly ...
0
votes
2answers
2k views

Origin of “don't have a coronary”?

I'm assuming the entire phrase would be "don't have a coronary occlusion" meaning "don't have a heart attack." I haven't been able to find anything useful regarding when or where it might have ...
1
vote
2answers
655 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 ...
15
votes
4answers
5k views

Origin of “Put up your dukes”

This link claims that one cannot be sure of origin of this phrase. Three explanations are given here, but they are not very convincing (I am not a native speaker). In one of our newspapers, ...
3
votes
1answer
865 views

Origin of “to see it through”

What is the origin of the phrase "to see it through"? How early was it invented? Would it sound out of place in an attempt to emulate older (200–400 years older) English?
8
votes
2answers
629 views

Why is the current unrest in the Arab world called the “Arab Spring”?

Does spring in "Arab Spring" refer to the season - or something else?
6
votes
1answer
4k views

Do you “call an audible” when you “play it by ear”?

I recently overheard the phrase, "call an audible" and mentally likened it to, "play it by ear." But when I went to look it up, I discovered that the general consensus is that the former hails from ...
4
votes
2answers
242 views

Is there any categorical name for these kind of words?

Words which are derived from Sanskrit (which is a historical Indo-Aryan language and the primary liturgical language of Hinduism, Jainism and Buddhism) Or Hindi into English. For example: avatar ...
4
votes
1answer
445 views

Chicks - Girls, Cats - Boys?

The 1950's song Fever (covered, among others, by Elvis Presley) contains the following lines: Now you've listened to my story Here's the point that I have made Cats were born to give chicks ...
7
votes
1answer
410 views

What is the meaning of the idiom “Like the Nation”?

In the book The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn there are several curious references to "the nation". For example, in chapter 22: And at last, sure enough, [...] the horse broke loose, and away he ...
3
votes
3answers
613 views

Where did the expression “every last one” come from?

There is, after all, only one last one. Why did it become common to say "every last one"? Dictionary.com has a definition for last as follows: 8. individual; single: The lecture won't start ...
3
votes
5answers
9k views

What does “everything's gone pear-shaped” mean?

I've recently heard this phrase spoken twice on a British television show, and I assume it means something along the lines of, "everything's fallen apart," generally meaning, things are bad right now. ...
13
votes
3answers
97k views

Can someone explain the phrase “All is fair in love and war”?

What are its origins and what does it really mean?
5
votes
6answers
20k views

What is the origin of the saying, “faint heart never won fair lady”?

Having heard the phrase, "faint heart never won fair lady" for the third time in very short span, I'm determined to find out its origin. Unfortunately, when I Google, I'm getting a bunch of ...
10
votes
7answers
8k views

Where did the idiom “giving a heads up” come from?

I know giving heads up means to inform someone, but how does that relate to the literal meaning i.e. giving heads up? What's the background? Where did it come from?
11
votes
4answers
7k views

What is the origin of the phrase “'til the cows come home”?

What is the origin of the term 'til the cows come home? While discussing this with friends tonight, the group had two possible explanations: Cows return to their barn for milking at a given time ...
7
votes
2answers
1k views

Where does “Let's roll!” come from?

Where does the idiom "Let's roll!" come from?
8
votes
2answers
6k views

what is the origin of the phrase “a penny for your thoughts”?

Googling for the origin of "A penny for your thoughts," I have only found the origin of a likely-related phrase "my two cents" and simple dictionary entries for "a penny for your thoughts." What is ...