Hot answers tagged

8

No, it's not restricted to lawyers: hang out one's shingle Open an office, especially a professional practice, as in Bill's renting that office and hanging out his shingle next month. This American colloquialism dates from the first half of the 1800s, when at first lawyers, and later also doctors and business concerns, used shingles for signboards. ...


6

The earliest Google Books match appears to be from "My Hobby,—rather" in The New Monthly Magazine (November 1834)—and it does involve a lawyer: Larry Wynn (now Lawrence Wynn, Esq.) lived here. He had, as they say in the United States, "hung out a shingle" (Londonicé, put up a sign) as attorney-at-law ; and to all the twenty thousand innocent inhabitants ...


4

The exception that proves the rule is a good example. According to Wikipedia, based on Fowler’s Modern English Usage, the phrase has its origin in Roman legal doctrine, and at full length reads: Exceptio probat regulam in casibus non exceptis or The exception proves the rule in cases not excepted. For instance, though not matter for a major legal ...


3

I'm sure there are quite a few, but since we're familiar with their present meaning, it's kind of hard to know what they meant before... but here are two (I think). Birthday suit - while I'm not sure when it began as an idiom (it was literally fancy clothes one wore on one's birthday (or the king's birthday, or some such) now refers to the clothes one was ...


3

Hang out one's shingle was originally used especially for lawyers, but is now applied to any kind of profession: Open an office, especially a professional practice, as in Bill's renting that office and hanging out his shingle next month. This American colloquialism dates from the first half of the 1800s, when at first lawyers, and later also ...


2

"Beg the question" is a pet peeve for logicians, it's actually a technical term for a circular argument (from the Latin petitio principii), not to be used as a synonym for "raise the question." "More honored in the breach" is from Shakespeare. We typically use it to mean a rule more often broken than followed, but he meant it as a rule so bad it was better ...


2

Well, you're right, but did you even check one dictionary before posting? Check: (Collins) Word Origin C14: from Old French eschec a check at chess, hence, a pause (to verify something), via Arabic from Persian shāh the king! (in chess) http://www.collinsdictionary.com/dictionary/english/check


2

It seems like there's quite a few that are likely to turn up (and I'm going to bet a lot of them will be related to agricultural origins). Here's one of my favorites: "burying your talents" and "wasting your talents" The whole concept of talent in a modern English sense comes from a transliterated unit of money in The King James version. ...


2

It's quoting the epic poem The Song Of Roland about Charlemagne going into Spain to fight the Muslims


1

You might be looking for the phrase analysis paralysis or the paradox of choice both of which are drawn from psycholgy rather than common idiomatic English. Both colorfully describe the experience of impaired decision-making when presented with too many good options. Analysis paralysis is an unwillingness to commit to a course of action without ...


1

I've been looking recently at uses of the term with machines and most contexts I've found for relate to sewing machines, where the thread or yarn gets - quite literally - "balled up" or tangled, which tends to put a halt to its productive use. Maybe that could be a potential source, especially given that use of the expression seems to have begun in the ...


1

J.E. Lighter, Random House Historical Dictionary of American Slang (1997) gives as a first occurrence of "off the wall" in a slang sense this exchange from a 1937 scare film, cited (with interpolated commentary) in Michael Starks, Cocaine Fiends and Reefer Madness (1982): After the usual prologue on the perils of marijuana, we find Lamont High school ...


1

You might want to use the phrase Stir Crazy. This generally refers to someone who's going a bit nutty due to prolonged loneliness or incarceration.


1

Let's begin by clarifying some definitions. As usual etymonline.com is a helpful resource for identifying early attested usage and meaning. Wrought is a past participle for work. It's generally archaic, since we would say "worked" in modern contexts. The old Middle English forms of "work" are still present in modern usages like: "Wrought Iron" for worked ...


1

Here's an Ngram chart that tracks the frequency in Google Books search results of "wrought havoc" (blue line) versus "wreaked havoc" versus "worked havoc" (green line) for the period 1800–2005: Although "worked havoc" has, since the late 1800s, been consistently less common than "wrought havoc," both show the same hill-like trajectory, rising between 1880 ...


1

A rolling stone gathers no moss Rolling stones used to be uncool earlier but they are cool now. ...the original intent of the proverb saw the growth of moss as desirable, and that the intent was to condemn mobility as unprofitable. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A_rolling_stone_gathers_no_moss


1

According the "Academic and Workplace Sexual Harassment " the expression refers to the practice of moving the trash (abusive teachers) from school to school: "Passing the trash" is a common term used to indicate that the harassing/ abusive teacher (trash) gets passed to another district to teach following sexual abuse allegations. These abusers are ...



Only top voted, non community-wiki answers of a minimum length are eligible