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Questions tagged [phrase-origin]

For questions about the origin of a phrase. Also consider the 'etymology' tag.

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4answers
107 views

Origin of the saying “The hawk is out”

There is a brisk, chill wind blowing in my part of the world, and I was reminded of the saying: "The hawk is out" Some people claim it originated in Chicago in black communities, but I have only ...
0
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1answer
58 views

Where does the phrase “Lightness Races in Orbit” come from? [closed]

SE member Lightness Races in Orbit has a very nice turn of phrase as a username and I'm wondering where it originates. I can't find an existing usage of it by googling. All of the top results are ...
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0answers
16 views

Who are the world's leading authorities on the origins of business speak? [on hold]

I am writing a book on the history of Business Speak (i.e. "swim lane," "core competency"). To that end, I am tracking down the origins of some of the most widely-used business terms. I'm looking ...
7
votes
1answer
99 views

Origin of “the grass is always greener”

Earlier versions of this well-known proverb, according to “writingexplained.org”, include: A Latin proverb cited by Erasmus of Rotterdam was translated into English by Richard Taverner in 1545, as:...
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6answers
5k views

Is it technically correct to call an almond drink “milk” in English?

For the past few years in Italian supermarkets, we have all sorts of "healthy" and "organic" alternatives to dairy milk for vegans and for consumers who are lactose intolerant. For example; soy milk (...
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0answers
103 views

Etymology of “between a rock and hard place” [duplicate]

I don't find any of the origin stories posted for this phrase plausible. Has anyone scoured the many concordances of the English Bible? If the answer is no, I'll embark on the task myself.
4
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2answers
157 views

Origin of “name and shame”

According to Phrase Finder, the idiomatic expression name and shame was originally used as a noun phrase, From the Pennsylvania newspaper The Warren Ledger, October 1884: "None are ...
2
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0answers
43 views

From Black Friday to Cyber Monday!

Sources available on line say that the expression “Cyber Monday” is just a few years old, dating its coinage to 2005: The term "Cyber Monday" was dreamt up in 2005 by a marketing team at Shop.org,...
3
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2answers
97 views

Are “phonics” and “Phoenician” related?

I was watching a history lecture recently, and the professor stated that after the Greek "dark ages," during which their previously used written language was lost and forgotten, a new written language ...
5
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3answers
339 views

When was the phrase “smoke-filled room” first used in politics?

Smoke-filled room is used in politics to mean: a room (as in a hotel) in which a small group of politicians carry on negotiations Merriam-Webster The phrase originated in the U.S. to describe ...
3
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1answer
85 views

Origin of: “I don't chew my cabbage twice.”

"I don't chew my cabbage twice." Is the origin of this phrase The Andy Griffith Show?
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3answers
2k views

What is the origin of the term “cone of shame”?

What is the first known use of the term "cone of shame"? This refers to the plastic cone affixed around dog's necks when they have had a procedure or medical condition. Wikipedia fails to shed any ...
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3answers
293 views

“and I'm the Queen of Sheba”

According to Longman Dictionary the droll comeback... and I’m the Queen of Sheba (humor) used as a reply when someone claims that they are famous or that they have done something impressive, but ...
5
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1answer
76 views

What's the origin of “hung for a toad”? Where is it used?

The phrase I have heard most often from my father usually went like this: Well I'll be hung for a toad! Where did this saying come from and has anyone else heard it? My dad's dad & mother ...
3
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2answers
102 views

Usage of the idiom ‘Crossing the Rubicon’

Wikipedia gives the following information on the search “Crossing the Rubicon” Julius Caesar's crossing the Rubicon river was an event in 49 BC that precipitated the Roman Civil War, which ...
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4answers
3k views

How does “A hit dog will holler” work as a metaphor?

Background: I, an Australian, once had a co-worker in North Carolina who would often use Southern-US idioms that confused me. I spent an evening panicked about how to handle "This dog will hunt" as ...
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2answers
60 views

What is the origin of “sink a drink”?

A recent query about the meaning of "sink my jig" led me off on a bit of a tangent. After finding a Jiggs dinner (it's a thing), I wanted to make sure they were "sinking" dinners and drinks back then ...
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0answers
32 views

What does the phrase isn't/doesn't he/she just" originate?/

As The Machmillan Dictionary puts it this phrase is used for emphasis. For example: Person 1: Kate was angry with Mike for breaking her vase. Person 2: Isn't she just. This phrase sounds so ...
6
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2answers
111 views

What is the origin of the “once upon a time” idiom as the way to begin a fairy tale?

"Once upon a time" is the traditional way to start a fairy tale using the English language. But how traditional is it? I'm trying to find the first uses of this expression with this purpose. So far I ...
3
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3answers
111 views

What is the origin of the phrase “join the club/welcome to the club”?

I recently was having a conversation with an acquaintance in Russian, and she used the phrase "welcome to the club" as it would literally translate into Russian. Confused, I asked, "This is surely an ...
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3answers
11k views

What is a “work wife”?

While watching the following video by Buzzfeed, entitled $1 Sushi Vs. $133 Sushi • Japan, one of the guests invited on the culinary road trip, a Japanese woman, used the expression “work wife”. ...
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2answers
97 views

Why do we say “forever and ever” when forever is enough

Why do we have to add the "and ever"? Does this phrase have some good old story of its origins?
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1answer
185 views

To let some of my cats on the table

While reading J.L. Austin's book How to do things with words I found this (to me) curious sentence: ... and here I must let some of my cats on the table... The context seems to imply that the ...
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3answers
173 views

Origins of '[politician's last name] derangement syndrome' and of 'derangement' in the sense of 'insanity'

In recent months, Donald Trump has characterized critics of his administration as suffering from "Trump Derangement Syndrome"—presumably, an irrational hostility to anything Trump says or does. The ...
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2answers
377 views

Where does the term “on the nose” come from?

Where does the term, "on the nose" (to mean accuracy) come from? Dictionaries such as Oxford Dictionaries list the expression both under "nose" and on its own page, but the only etymology they list ...
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2answers
196 views

Origin of “rank hath its privileges”

It's often seen with "has," but the frequent appearance of "hath" suggests the saying may be much, much older. Early Modern English always suggests Shakespeare to me, but my Google-fu hath failed me ...
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1answer
1k views

What is “roots and hacks”?

I was reading comments on this website, and I stumbled upon such an expression: Roots and hacks and whatnot just to get a custom screensaver. I tried to google it, but I found just a couple of ...
2
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2answers
118 views

What is the origin of the term “bull****” in its figurative sense? [closed]

When/how did the word "bullshit" or the phrase "I call bullshit" (or its multiple variants) become acceptable in English? Was it a direct adaptation from another language or was it introduced in some ...
4
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1answer
93 views

Where did the term “flame war”/“flaming” come from?

I found this term on the history of Tanenbaum and Torvalds debate, but I couldn't find the origin of the term. I've understood the meaning (from UrbanDictionary): A flame war is a heated argument ...
6
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1answer
293 views

Is “ no news is good news” of Italian origin?

According to Phrase Finder, the origin of the famous proverb “no news is good news”: The earliest version of this familiar saying was attributed to the English King James I, who wrote in 1616, 'No ...
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2answers
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How did “dial back” come to mean “to reduce pressure on sth”

In a recent article from CNBC they say: ”Trump will dial back his trade pressure if markets tank.” Dial back/down is defined by Longman Dictionary as an AmE phrasal verb meaning: to reduce ...
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2answers
91 views

What's the origin of “shot away”?

What's the origin of the phrase "shot away" as meaning a person is behaving in an unhinged manner?
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1answer
132 views

Origin of phrase “dollars to doughnuts” [closed]

What is the origin of the phrase "dollars to doughnuts", and what is the phrase trying to convey when most commonly used?
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2answers
442 views

Origin of the phrase “barking mad”

Can anyone nail down the origin and first usage of the phrase... “barking mad” (also, just "barking")? Basic research shows two possible answers: Barking, England supposedly had a mental ...
0
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4answers
896 views

Why do we say “give me five”?

Give me five, (together with its main variants such as slap me five, give me a five etc.) is a very common way greet or celebrate asking someone to hit their open hand against yours. Give me five! (...
1
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1answer
141 views

What does the phrase “fall foul of ” come from?

As The Merriam Dictionary says it means to to get into trouble because of failing to do what is required by (the law, a rule, etc.) For example: After leaving school she fell foul of the law and ...
1
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1answer
947 views

What is the origin of the term, “to 86 someone”? [duplicate]

I came across a phrase, “86 to sb.” in the following paragraph of an article titled “The owner of the Red Hen explains why she asked Sarah Huckabee Sanders to leave,” in the Washington Post (June 23), ...
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1answer
3k views

“-ia” in country names

Many countries have "land" in the end of it. like England, Poland, Switzerland, etc. which means the land of the English, the land of the Swiss, etc. Many other countries have "stan" in the end of it ...
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3answers
428 views

Miss Marple and the “angels” of theatres

I recently happen to rewatch the 1964 movie “Murder Most Foul” and noticed that on a couple of occasions Miss Murple refers to the so called “angels”, that is, as she is explains, wealthy ...
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4answers
1k views

Origin of figurative use of 'ugly American' in the pejorative sense of 'ignorant, arrogant U.S. citizen abroad'

The expression "ugly American" evidently became famous through a novel—William J. Lederer & Eugene Burdick, The Ugly American (1958). The title character, Homer Atkins, although physically ...
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0answers
56 views

Origin of “walk and talk”

What is the origin of the phrase "(lets) walk and talk"? I have heard this being said explicitly in conversation, for example, when you're having a conversation with someone but you also need to be ...
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2answers
451 views

Is “Wile E. Coyote moment” mainly an economic metaphor?

The metaphor of Wile E. Coyote moment has been recently used by Ben Bernake suggesting that the U.S. economy might face a real slump in a few years. (Google images) Checking with Google it appears ...
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4answers
3k views

What’s the origin and history of the phrase “ten foot pole”?

According to Dictionary.com the phrase, ‘Not touch (something/someone) with a ten-foot pole’, dates back to the mid-eighteenth century: This expression dates from the mid-1700s, when it began ...
2
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1answer
70 views

Origin of the interjection “shock horror”!

I am familiar with the phrase Shock Horror! which is usually used ironically to announce something that is not, in fact, at all surprising. I believe it derives from the style of tabloid newspaper ...
0
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2answers
220 views

What is the origin of the phrase “The knives are out for..”

What is the origin, or at least first use, of the phrase "the knives are out for...?" Definition from Merriam-Webster: used to say that people are ready to blame or punish someone for something ...
2
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1answer
669 views

Disraeli's “Never complain, never explain”

The famous motto "never complain, never explain", that well represents an aspect of the English character, is said to have been coined by PM Benjamin Disraeli by most online source such as Quora and ...
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3answers
163 views

Barking Hot-Dogs

In the 1939 Walt Disney cartoon Donald's Cousin Gus Donald Duck is visited by a relative who proceeds to eat him out of house and home. There is a scene where Donald attempts to get rid of his ...
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1answer
183 views

When did “tea and sympathy” come into usage as a phrase?

When did "tea and sympathy" come into usage? I'm writing about a Western character in 1879.
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0answers
46 views

Phrasal variations for “advance warning” and their origins

I just used the phrase "just giving you a heads-up" for the first time in years, and it got me thinking about the origins of the expression and variations of it. Heads-up (nominal) is essentially the ...
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1answer
68 views

A question about the origin and meaning of 'hours on end'

We sat and waited in the emergency room for hours on end. Idioms - The Free Dictionary The Ngram demonstrates that the frequency of usage of the saying is hours, then days, then months, lastly years ...