32
votes
6answers
4k views

During the “Cold War”, did Americans/Westerners call it such?

I am old enough to remember the fall of the Soviet Union, but not old enough to have had any interest in world affairs in the times before. Did Americans/Westerners refer to the "Cold War" by that ...
8
votes
1answer
284 views

Did the slang term “The Bomb” meaning “Very Cool” come from the American Jazz scene?

Searching Google for the history of the slang term "the bomb" (as in "That song is the bomb") yields a number of results in 40s/50s jazz glossaries, but they tend to at best give an artificial example ...
3
votes
1answer
211 views

What was “bathroom” called in 1900's?

What would have been said around 1900 for a woman saying she needed to go to the bathroom in the state of Virginia?
2
votes
1answer
70 views

Who came up with “mascara lights” on cars?

Mascara lights are LED daytime running lights or lamps, typically in a wavy or curved pattern: This photo shows DRLs on an Audi A4-B8: When and where did this term originate? Is it an Audi ...
0
votes
1answer
52 views

Rephrase the question about history? [closed]

Here is what i want to ask - if you are given a chance to meet and talk to a person from history, who that would be? This above phrase doesn't sound good when asked as a question. Please ...
0
votes
1answer
392 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..."?
1
vote
1answer
74 views

How old is the phrase “A Healthy Pee” (or “A Healthy Piss”)

What is the earliest usage of the phrase "a healthy pee" or "a healthy piss"? The letter "P", or its spelled form, "pee", used euphemistically for "piss" (because "piss" begins with that letter -- ...
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 ...
0
votes
1answer
235 views

In the phrase “common sense”, in what sense of the word is “common” used?

As I understand it, there are several definitions of common, but I can't find any source that can highlight the etymology of the phrase. The linked definitions are pretty rigorous, but a less strict, ...
2
votes
2answers
327 views

What's the origin of the phrase “God's clean earth”, and how long has it been around? [closed]

"It isn't every day a man wakes up to discover he's a screaming bender with no more right to live on God's clean Earth than a weasel." - Dr. Leech, "Blackadder II" What's the origin of that ...
7
votes
1answer
202 views

When was the word “scroll” first used as a verb?

We all know that a scroll is a roll of parchment used in ancient times. A scroll can be rolled up or down, and that must have been the metaphor the creator of the computer-term "scroll" had in mind. ...
8
votes
2answers
688 views

“for good” expression in an unfortunate event?

I just heard an expression while watching a TV series yesterday. Someone just died and they said: He is gone for good I googled it and found that "for good" means "forever" in this context. But ...
5
votes
2answers
447 views

What is the meaning, history, and current popularity of “of a Monday” (or Tuesday, or Wednesday, etc.)?

I was watching a 1934 Hollywood film today and one of the American characters used the phrase, Of a Tuesday. I don't think I'd ever heard an American use this in real life or in a film before then, ...
8
votes
1answer
303 views

Why bread crumbs and not stones?

In UI navigation jargon, bread crumbs are used to describe a trail of links back to the starting point. This is obviously a reference to Hansel and Gretel, where they use a literal trail of bread ...
7
votes
6answers
8k views

Origin of the phrase “drink you under the table”

I have often heard people say I could drink you under the table or Mary drank Joe under the table This typically means that someone could drink more alcohol than someone else. What is ...
9
votes
4answers
2k views

Origin/reason for the “hit by a bus” phrase

Often at my job when someone is becoming a single source of knowledge or otherwise has a skill that no one else on the team or the department has, a common expression is: If John was hit by a bus, ...
2
votes
1answer
157 views

Fashionable photographers

I saw somewhere this quote from Wodehouse's Meet Mr. Mulliner (1927): "Statistics show that the two classes of the community which least often marry are milkmen and fashionable photographers – ...
9
votes
6answers
6k views

History of “have a good one”

I used to work at a grocery store. When bidding farewell to customers, my coworkers would often use phrases such as "Have a nice day," "Enjoy your day," and the like. One particular phrase that ...
5
votes
3answers
2k views

Origins of the phrase “You don't need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows”?

You don't need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows. This phrase is famously used in Subterranean Homesick Blues by Bob Dylan. The metaphor itself is so simple and powerful I'm sure it ...
3
votes
2answers
673 views

Genesis of the phrase “life and times”

Commonly used in the formula The life and times of ...
15
votes
4answers
963 views

How did English get the “What is your name?” construction?

As a dabbling polyglot, I've found myself learning the basics of several languages over the course of my lifetime. One of the first things that is taught in any language is personal introductions. I ...
3
votes
4answers
474 views

What exactly does “my grandfather built this house” mean?

When someone says that "my grandfather built this house", say now or even 20-30 years ago, do they mean their grandfather literally built that house from ground up? Foundation, framing, wiring, ...
7
votes
7answers
968 views

What are some of the most influential or obscure phrases and literary constructions drawn from the Bible?

I was reading through some English L & U SE questions, and happened across one asking about the origin of the phrase "Through a Glass, Clearly / A Scanner Darkly / In a Mirror, Darkly / ...
9
votes
3answers
5k 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 ...