0
votes
2answers
95 views

Should I wash my hands of this?

Should I wash my hands of this? Has this expression ever been used as a way of suggesting a bribe?
3
votes
1answer
50 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, ...
3
votes
1answer
121 views

“Advice I wish I'd had ears to hear” — is this phrase in common use? Origins?

Productivity writer Merlin Mann often uses the phrase "ears to hear" on his podcast. An example from his writing: "a discursive mishmash of advice I wish I'd had the ears to hear in the year or ...
2
votes
1answer
176 views

Local color / color commentary

What are the origin and history of the phrases "local color" and "color commentary"? There is a tiny bit in the dictionaries about this use of color to mean 'additional detail and anecdotes' but not ...
10
votes
2answers
745 views

“Thought is a thread, and the raconteur is a spinner of yarns"

“Thought is a thread, and the raconteur is a spinner of yarns" What does this metaphor mean and what is the origin? I know it is an ancient one, but couldn't find anything else! Is it obsolete ...
10
votes
2answers
10k views

Origin of “to have a cow”

The phrase "to have a cow" is defined as "to be very worried, upset, or angry about something" in Free Dictionary Online. Other sources also define it to mean to react very strongly and emotionally. ...
1
vote
2answers
260 views

Origin of “Knee-jerk” [closed]

I like to read the Economist to keep my English up to date. And today, reading the following news I came across the above mentioned expression. Merriam Webster defines it as: reacting in a ...
14
votes
3answers
9k views

Origin and exact meaning of “taken to the cleaners”

I know the meaning of this phrase by context, but the German analogs are no literal translations of this phrase and very dissimilar metaphors, meaning roughly: being tricked into something being ...
6
votes
3answers
2k views

What is the origin and meaning of “coyote ugly”?

I overheard two scoundrels discussing one of their dates as being "coyote ugly".
3
votes
5answers
7k views

Who were the 'pros from Dover'?

I was reading Rainbow Six by Tom Clancy this morning, and he compares his characters to the 'pros from Dover'. This was a phrase that I also remember hearing in the movie M*A*S*H - so it seems to be ...
3
votes
3answers
6k views

What is the origin of the phrase “another string to your bow”

Specifically - what kind of bow? I assume it refers to an archer's bow, but I guess it could relate to a bow used to play a stringed instrument (like a violin). Also, I've heard it used in the sense ...