0
votes
1answer
63 views

Do all four-letter-words have four letters?

Two vulgar words I know have five letters but I've been told they are considered four-letter-words in spite of it. The explanation I got was that in such cases vulgarity matters more than the number ...
0
votes
2answers
59 views

If you're “balled up” why are you confused?

I believe the expression 'balled up' dates back to the first decade of the twentieth century and I believe it means 'confused' but I'm all balled up as to why it means 'confused'. The only ...
0
votes
3answers
60 views

Is a tin-ear one who dislikes music or one who dislikes new popular music? Why?

I know folks who couldn't hear well used to use a tin-ear to help but I don't understand the connection between a tin-ear and a dislike of music or of new popular music.
1
vote
1answer
77 views

Why does the word “joed” mean weary, tired, exhausted, fatigued, etc.?

The word "joed" is a word I use frequently to describe my feeling tired or exhausted. As a child, I used to hear my grandfather say "I feel joed" before he would sit down for a respite or turn in; ...
6
votes
3answers
125 views

Why does to “take a powder” mean to run away or to leave?

From Flappers to Rappers: American youth slang by Dr. Thomas Dalzell cites "take a powder" as a 1930s expression meaning to run away or to leave. Does anyone have any ideas why taking a powder would ...
3
votes
2answers
56 views

Why does to “cheek it” mean to bluff?

From Flappers to Rappers: American Youth Slang by Dr. Thomas Dalzell cites the 1930s expression "cheek it" as meaning to bluff. I don't quite understand why and I'm hoping someone on here may help me ...
0
votes
1answer
46 views

Old slang words for a kiss--cherry smashes and honey cooler--why?

Cherry smashes are defined as feeble kisses and a honey cooler is simply a kiss. Cherry smashes was slang from the 1920s and a honey cooler was slang from the 1930s. Any ideas why feeble kisses would ...
1
vote
1answer
53 views

Is an excessively shy person a “gussie”?

I'm sure most of us are familiar with a shrinking violet as being an excessively shy person; however, while reading from Flappers to Rappers: History of American Youth Slang Dr. Dalzell defines a ...
-1
votes
0answers
42 views

If someone is feeling despondent are they “in the bushes”?

I'm sure most of you are familiar with the expression "down in the dumps" which I believe dates back to the late 18th century; however, From Flappers to Rappers: A Study of American Youth Slang cites ...
1
vote
1answer
46 views

Why does “to wire” mean to trick?

A Collection of College Words & Customs written by Benjamin Homer Hall in 1856 defines a "wire" as a trick and I'm curious to know if it is of any relation to a magician using invisible wire to ...
0
votes
1answer
54 views

How does the word “gas” relate to cheating and deception?

According to A Collection of College Words & Customs by Benjamin Homer Hall, written in 1856 I believe, gas is defined as cheating or deceiving someone. Any ideas why that may be?
4
votes
1answer
75 views

Why were “skin” and “niggle” slang words meaning to hurry?

I've read in a book From Flappers to Rappers: The Study of American Youth Slang two words used commonly within the same decade 1900-1910 meaning to hurry were "skin" and "niggle". I'm puzzled as to ...
0
votes
1answer
57 views

Why does “all to the mustard” mean excellent?

While reading P.G. Wodehouse's The Inimitable Jeeves I came across a fascinating expression of "all to the mustard!" It is defined as meaning excellent. Why? Can anyone please help me understand this ...
1
vote
1answer
62 views

Priscilla--a girl who prefers to stay home? Who could this term be resultant of?

From Flappers to Rappers, a book of American youth slang, records "Priscilla" as a 1920s slang word for a girl who prefers to stay home. I'm curious to know why they've chosen that name. Is there any ...
0
votes
2answers
72 views

Is a blushing violet the opposite of a shrinking violet?

I understand that "shrinking violet" is used to describe an excessively shy individual. Recently, I encountered the similar-sounding phrase "blushing violet", but the definition given was the very ...
1
vote
1answer
64 views

Why does pine feather period signify the period in a woman's life when she blossoms?

In a book titled From Flappers to Rappers it lists youth slang from the 1920s and one of the terms it lists is pine feather period. Pine feather period is defined as a period in a woman's life when ...
2
votes
1answer
84 views

What does “I had every last one of them” mean?

I heard this quote from a Channel 4 sitcom the IT crowd I'm gonna go, I may not come back but I want to say this. That accounts team, I had every last one of them. It is said by Douglas ...
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 ...
18
votes
3answers
2k views

What does “do a take 5” mean?

The context is “We will always do a TAKE 5 prior to undertaking work”. I have no idea what a “take 5” is. I searched “take 5” on Google but I didn’t find an applicable explanation. Here is the ...
2
votes
2answers
146 views

What does “saving the world, one X at a time” mean?

Does it mean that you are using X to save the world, or that you are saving the world by eliminating one X at a time?
16
votes
7answers
2k views

Why are you a plonker?

The idiom, plonk (something/someone) down means to slap something down; to plop something down to sit or lie down on something in a careless or noisy way to leave someone somewhere to do ...
3
votes
2answers
394 views

Cut the lights on

This expression is commonly used in the southern United States from Oklahoma to Virginia, and is patently illogical, and yet fails to inspire any consternation or lack of semantic connection. On a ...
3
votes
3answers
2k views

What is the exact meaning of “You've got yourself a deal”? Is it only an American slang?

I came across the phrase, ‘got yourself a deal’ being introduced as a vulgar American English by a character in Jeffery Archer’s, fiction “The Fourth Estate.” In the scene Keith Townsend, Australian ...
3
votes
1answer
408 views

“22 Acacia Avenue” British idiom

What is the meaning of this British idiom? I was watching BBC's Top Gear and the presenters were cracking jokes about people who live in the 22 of the avenues. And that the people who live there like ...
-1
votes
1answer
134 views

Meaning of 'take it to the hoes'

I came across the following sentence: You can just take it to the hoes on Broadway if you need to get your freak on. And not only can I not understand the phrase 'take it to the hoes' but I also ...
5
votes
2answers
363 views

What's a useful replacement idiom for “money shot?”

I'm afraid I have been somewhat innocently causing offense by using the term "money shot" in its general, non-pornographic sense. My coworkers either have dirty minds or lack awareness of the other ...
7
votes
5answers
6k views

What connotation does “to fork one's repo” have?

In a recent news item, an employee was fired partly for making jokes about "big dongle" and "forking repos", which were alleged to be inappropriate sexual jokes. The employee admitted the dongle joke ...
-1
votes
1answer
89 views

To Lay A Hit, Blow

Is 'to lay a hit/blow on' someone (as in cheap shot) a slang expression?
9
votes
4answers
1k views

Meaning and acceptability of “One fifty” when speaking of dollars

I was watching Errol Morris' ‘11 Excellent Reasons Not to Vote?’. At some point, the dialog goes this way: ― If I could sell my vote, I probably would. ― How much? ― How much? Psssh... ...
8
votes
2answers
187 views

Etymology of “catch a bosso”

Reading Look to the Lady, by Margery Allingham, I came across the apparent slang "catch a bosso," used by Lugg, the Cockney manservant, at the beginning of Chapter 6: As soon as I caught a bosso ...
3
votes
3answers
3k views

What does “and then some” mean and why is it used that way?

It seems that a good explanation of "and then some" is: http://www.thefreedictionary.com/and+then+some and then some (Informal) With considerably more in addition: This project will take ...
0
votes
2answers
3k views

Full of (piss|pith) and vinegar

Re: the expression: "Full of (piss|pith) and vinegar" Are both correct/acceptable? Is one preferred?
6
votes
1answer
688 views

What is the origin of the idiom “Hong Kong dog”?

Does anybody know the origin of the idiom "Hong Kong dog"? EDIT: I'm more interested in how the idiom came into being rather than when it first appeared in mainstream media. Something like the guess ...
4
votes
3answers
965 views

A negative person [closed]

What is the best word that I could use to describe a person that seems to attract negative situations? Every time I am around him/her, something bad always seems to happen. Is there a word to describe ...
34
votes
8answers
3k views

Why “job” in “nut job”

Why are crazy people called nut jobs? Why are they called a job? Wiktionary is of no help here.
4
votes
1answer
404 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 ...
10
votes
3answers
1k views

Use of “them” as an article, not a pronoun

I've seen a lot of times the pronoun them used like an article. For example, in the title of the Delta Rhythm Boys Them bones, or in the first sentence of "Money for nothing": Now look at them ...
4
votes
3answers
2k views

Where did the phrase “shut up” as an expression of disbelief or amazement originate?

I recently heard shut up used according to this definition in Urban dictionary. shut·up (shuht-up) --interjection 1. An expression of disbelief. 2. Amazement; astonishment. I've only ...
2
votes
3answers
2k views

Is it better to be “hung like a pike” or “hung like a stickleback”?

More from the British movie The Football Factory. The background is that the main character and his best friend have picked up these two girls at a bar; things proceed swimmingly, and the two head ...
1
vote
4answers
1k views

Is the phrase “move over” an official English idiom? And if so, is it only in American English?

Is the phrase "move over" an official English idiom known worldwide? I would like to know: Is it an official English idiom (not slang or colloquial)? Is it known outside of the US (e.g. in the UK, ...
3
votes
2answers
706 views

“Hot Diggity …”

Ok, perhaps the last one was too easy :) Here's one that a friend of mine uses, and I'd love to know if it's something he coined, or is it a more common expression than I think: Hot ...
5
votes
3answers
1k views

Why is “ass” considered obscene?

Spam filters replace obscene "Ass" for "butt" Meanwhile, in literature, newspaper articles, forum posts, sayings, proverbs, etc. I am encountering many more expressions with ass but not with butt. ...
1
vote
2answers
543 views

What's the deep meaning in the lyrics of “Heavy Traffic” by Elton John? [closed]

In the lyrics, some pieces I couldn't understand very well: Shakey wake up thirsty from a night in the bar And snake hips Joe is Mr. Cool What's snake hips? And, does the name Joe have a ...
1
vote
1answer
463 views

On being golden

Saying that [someone] is golden means that person is in a desirable situation that will likely lead to some sort of success. I am trying to find out the origin of this phrase. So far, I have found ...
10
votes
2answers
8k views

What does the “atta” mean in “attaboy” and “attagirl”?

What does the prefix atta mean? What is it trying to abbreviate? What a? Wiktionary claims that it stands for that's a or that's the, but I do not see the resemblance to atta.