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10

OED Online offers a comprehensive etymology for alakazam. It says that it is apparently an arbitrary formation, invented to sound like a word in an unspecified foreign language, with the intention of creating an air of exoticism and mystery. For the magical exclamation, OED says that it is perhaps approximately suggested by abracadabra. The earliest form ...


9

The "open-arse" (also: enter "open-ærs") entry's first reference in the NED is: "c. 1000 AElfric Gloss. in Wr.-Wülker 137/36 Mespila1/1a, openaers." This source contains no context as this is a lexicon geared at scholars (see document intro.). A note showcases the reaction of Wr.-Wülker to the word, much later, in 1884: It is rather singular that we ...


7

I cannot believe that medlar was called only “open arse” in Old English, despite what etymonline suggests. There must have been a more ‘normal’ name, just as “dog's arse” is today British slang for medlar, likewise the bawdily named fruit openærs must have been a jocular and vulgar expression. What was its ‘other’ name in Old English? You surely ...


6

1) As for the difference between blet and rot: Blet is a noun that is used to refer specifically to fruits and plants (Plant Pathology) a state of softness or decay in certain fruits, such as the medlar, brought about by overripening [C19: from French blettir to become overripe] (Collins Dict.) According to Wikipedia blet is also a verb: ...


5

It's certainly still used here near Manchester (but less than was once the case). Oxford Dictionaries give the sense, labelling it as an informal British usage: clever 2 [PREDICATIVE, WITH NEGATIVE] British informal Healthy or well: I was up and about by this time though still not too clever.


4

It is sense 4 of the verb fiddle per the OED. It has been around since at least 1630 and Daniel Defoe was using it in 1703. Interestingly the nounal use is said by the OED to be of US origin, and dates from more recently. Verb trans. and intr. To cheat, swindle; to ‘wangle’, intrigue; (see also quot. 1850). Also with into, out of. Now only slang. 1630 ...


4

Since the two phrases you quote appeared as part of a comedy sketch, I think it makes sense to consider how and in what sense the use of the word bitch may be played for laughs. First, though, I note that the frequency of the term "bitch" in Google Books search results has increased considerably in the past 100 years—and especially in the past 50 years—even ...


4

"True dat" is African American Vernacular English for "That's true". https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zX9RVI0vaDs


3

I've referred to my straight significant other as a twink, but the situation may be atypical. I am gender queer. I am chromosomally female but identify as male and lived a large portion of my life as ftm trans. I still have a vagina. So you could say that I'm a gay ftm dating a twink, or you could say I'm a het girl with identity issues dating a twink. He's ...


2

Tom Dalzell, The Slang of Sin (1998) lists numerous forms of the word shake that apply to such varied pursuits as sex, drugs, gambling, street crime, and dancing. One of the most interesting is this one, for shake joint: shake joint A "dancing studio" of the 1930s where customers and "dancers" would engage in intimate caresses—shaking—while fully ...


2

This is certainly a timely question for readers in the United States: The final day for citizens to file their federal and state income tax returns without incurring a penalty for late filing is April 15. In the spirit of the impending dismal day, I'll focus on Mari-Lou A's third question: 3. Do Americans fiddle their taxes? What's the American English ...


1

It means "that is true." "Dat" is used for "that" in some dialects.


1

The second definition in JoeBright's answer is correct: thot is an acronym that stands for "That Ho Over There." The word has a negative connotation and is such sometimes used as an affectionate insult to close friends, but is almost always used to describe women. Ho is commonly misspelled as hoe, but intended as a short form for whore. It's generally ...


1

Alright or all right (UK, informal) Generic greeting. "All right" apparently comes from a question (i.e. "are you all right?", "are things all right?") so it seems like more of a synonym for how are you. Then again, a response is often not expected. – All right used as a greeting: ‘hello’, ‘how are you?’ appears to have a quite old origin. OED cites a ...


1

I have some notes to supplement ermanen's very well-researched and wide-ranging answer to this question. They don't constitute a freestanding answer, in my opinion, but they do offer additional context for several of ermanene's quotations, as well as a few new reference points. Early occurrences of 'alakazam and 'allakazam' The earliest occurrences of ...


1

Tim's comment is a great idiom. I believe the full original proverb is: Give a man a fish, he will eat for a day. Teach a man to fish, and he will eat for a lifetime. Another option that is slang but perhaps a bit more useful for many cases: I can't figure out how to code this. Could you point me in the right direction? Essentially, "point me ...


1

I wouldn't object to seeing slew in a formal paper, it does however sound slightly exaggerated in connection with illnesses. If the person in question was indeed randomly and violently hit by a host of illnesses, I would leave it. Otherwise, may I suggest the following: He had a series of mental and physical illnesses. He had a succession of mental ...


1

A good word for the random event (the party) leading to a positive outcome (she was there and said yes) is serendipity, though that doesn't describe your mutual friend, it describes the role he played. Full Definition of SERENDIPITY : the faculty or phenomenon of finding valuable or agreeable things not sought for; also : an instance of this ...


1

Philosophically casual though English is, we do try to keep some foothold on logic. Since the friend did not knowingly assist in the meeting, no agency can be attributed to him and no noun describes his role. But you could describe his party as fortuitous or (if you are pious) as providential.


1

I have seen an actual pegged meter in the EE Lab at the University of Wisconsin. When the meter is hit with a sudden extreme over voltage, the needle hits the peg hard enough that the needle wraps around the peg. Why is there a peg on the face of the meter? Probably because the meter isn't accurate above the peg point.


1

If a phrase is unique to a specific song, then explaining it requires interpretation, because there is no convention from outside that singular usage to explain its meaning. If, on the other hand, a phrase is common to the everyday language of the community of the singer, then understanding that phrase does not require interpretation but familiarity with the ...


1

I've seen jane is used for a female john but it is not as common. John is used for men, however you can find gender neutral definitions of the term as well. For example, Newspeak (Routledge Revivals): A Dictionary of Jargon (By Jonathon Green) mentions that it is used for both male and female.


1

To be phrase "down in [one's] boots" seems to have meant, at one time, "to have lost courage" or "to have felt [one's] spirits sink." Joaquin Miller, The Danites in the Sierras (1881) cites it and kindred expressions as indicating a lack of popular esteem: "Hasn't got the soul of a chicken!" "Caved in at last!" Gone down in his boots!" "Busted in the ...


1

For the meaning: _ hot take An opinion based on simplistic moralizing rather than actual thought. Not to be confused with a strong take. Urban Dictionary _ hot take An opinion piece that features an author making bold, broad, and subjective moral generalizations on a situation with little or no original analysis or ...


1

The first line of an old question of mine reads: Scottish dogs used to waff Further on, I quote: The onomatopoeic waff (17th C) which means to bark or to yelp like a dog is, sad to say, virtually obsolete but its modern-day counterpart, woof (19th C), still thrives. Chambers's Twentieth Century Dictionary adj Waff waf (Scot.) weak, worthless, ...


1

It seems a easy path to me from the energetic movement of the hands and arms while playing a fiddle to energetic movement using the hands when fiddling with an object to energetic work on your taxes - and if you need work that hard, the odds are you are cheating somewhere.



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