104

The toast goes back more than half a century before the scriptwriters of Casablanca used it in 1942. From Anonymous, A Holiday Skip to the Far West (1884), we have this scene set in the Southern Hotel in St. Louis, Missouri: "Any friend of Mr. O'Sullivan welcome. Will you nominate your poisons, gentlemen?" Since poisoning was apparently a ...


77

What is a cap anyways? A "cap", in the firearms sense, is the ignition source for the gunpowder. These were used in the days before firearms that used "modern" cartridges containing bullet, powder, and (not obvious to the casual observer) a "cap" in the center of the cartridge base. The pre-cartridge (but post-flintlock) "...


74

English speakers have been calling white liquids “milk” since Old English. But please don’t drink spurge milk (i.e. its white, latex-like sap), since it’s poisonous: Wið weartan genim þysse ylcan wyrte [sc. spurge's] meolc & clufþungan wos, do to þære weartan.  Pseudo-Apuleius' Herbarium “With warts, take the wort (spurge’s) milk & clove-...


72

I found a few early instances where the use seems to refer to a significant chance, or even an exorbitant or undeserved opportunity, but this intended meaning appears to be rare and was rapidly overwhelmed by the figurative meaning. Here are a few of the clippings I collected where "fat chance" seems to mean a big chance: 1860 Isaac V. Fowler, the ...


63

As an American mom whose kids I shuttled to and from soccer (along with their dad, who played basketball in HS/college), I would like to give an opinion. Baseball/football/basketball are the big three here. When my kids were very, very young, the sport for little kids was tee-ball, a version of baseball/softball where the ball is not pitched but sits on a ...


55

Using Eighteenth Century Collections Online, I found this note at the end of an anti-Catholic pamphlet titled A Protestant's Revolution (Dublin, 1734), where other pamphlets by the same publisher ("S. Hyde, Widow in Dame-street") are advertised for publication. At the end of the list appears a nota bene: N. B. The above Books are sold cheaper by the Dozen ...


50

The point is that Sigmund Freud supposedly saw sexual references in everything. If you are not familiar with the ideas of Freud, or with the associations people have with Freud, the quote doesn't mean much. Freud, the father of modern psycho-analysis, became widely know for describing mental problems that people experienced using classical references and ...


50

The expression is quite old as a term for sightseeing, and appears to have originated in the form "see the lions." J.S. Farmer & W.E. Henley, Slang and Its Analogues Past and Present (1896) has this entry for the earlier term: Lion, subs. (old). ... 2. (colloquial).—An object (animate or inanimate) of interest. To SEE THE LIONS = to go ...


49

I doubt the telecommunications usage of "last mile" has much to do with the figurative usage you cite. The original telecommunications use of the "last mile" is very concrete: It's the pair of physical wires that run between the customer's house and the telephone branch office. It's not always exactly one mile long, of course, but in a typical urban ...


48

Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary, Eleventh Edition (2003) says that jerry-rigged goes back only to 1959. It speculates that the term is an amalgam of jury-rigged (dating to 1788) and jerry-built (dating to 1869). The jury in jury-rigged doesn't involve a panel of one's peers, however; it means "makeshift" and appears in the Middle English jory saile ...


42

-ia is a Latin ending (-ία in Ancient Greek) used to form abstract nouns. In this case, the "abstract" noun referred to a nation, that is, a collection of people and the locations where they lived. For example, the land of the Germani was Germania.


42

By far the earliest match for "punch a gift horse" in Google Books search results is from a 1972 issue of National Lampoon, a U.S. satirical magazine that grew out of The Harvard Lampoon, a satirical university student publication. Here is the snippet result that Google Books reports: NEVER PUNCH A GIFT HORSE IN THE MOUTH OR SHIPS THAT GO BUMP IN ...


41

There have always been “two birds in the bush” I did not find any references that showed there ever being more than two birds, possibly nestling, in a shrub. However, some claim that the version with which we are most familiar first appeared in the English translation of The Second Part of the History of the Valorous and Witty Knight – Errant, Don Quixote of ...


38

'Brother company' - or 'brother (anything)' - would almost certainly be considered incorrect (in English). There's no logical reason why it should be incorrect, only historical. You're right that the first usage of "sister (object)" was probably for ships. I can't find anything earlier. We use 'she' to refer to something which we have so much affection for ...


37

Both Medica's and Sven Yargs' answers throughly address the origin and etymology of the quote, but for the meaning behind it, we'll have to dissect the quote itself. "Here's to" Is a common toast - a wishing of good will and declaration of admiration towards an idea. That's easy enough to understand. "Looking at you" is the idea that Rick is toasting - ...


35

Perhaps your dad added the "suey suey" part on his own, maybe for humorous effect? Wikipedia and The Phrase Finder both talk about the etymology of chop chop, meaning "hurry up" or "quickly, quickly!" A longer article at an NPR website says: Several etymological dictionaries trace the origins of the word to a version of pidgin ...


32

The OED entry is instructive. Whilst it confirms the expression is obsolete (though I vaguely remember having heard it in my lifetime), I think the example given from 1877 comes as close as anything to explaining the etymology. The suggestion is that if a pot of tea turns out too weak, wives consider it fit only for their husband, not for it to be drunk by ...


32

From Hugh Rawson, A Dictionary of Euphemisms and Other Doubletalk (1981): Jiminy Cricket. The cute Walt Disney character notwithstanding, this is a euphemism for "Jesus Christ," on a par with Judas Christopher, Judas Priest, cripes, and jingo. The "Jiminy" comes from "Gemini," which goes back to at least 1664, and which may ...


31

In Europe and pretty much the rest of the world, the game is called football. In the US there's already the national sport, football, which the rest of the world calls "American football" hence the term, soccer, was adopted in the US. The US national sport is (American) football (see edit correction below) American football as a whole is the most popular ...


29

I found a reference that predates the Up movie by a good eight years, although I'm sure there must be older usages out there somewhere. In a 2001 Usenet post to the alt.fashion newsgroup, user Michele317 says: on a fashion note, he's refusing to wear what the vet calls an 'elizabethan collar' and what i call 'the cone of shame': that plastic ...


28

The "Indian head penny" was first minted in 1859: From Wikipedia However, it's clear that the term was being used well before the design was even conceived: THE OLD “RED CENT” OF THE UNITED STATES COINAGE. As the old “red cent" is about being called in, some of our cotemporaries are writing its history and obituary. The cent was proposed ...


27

Green’s Dictionary of Slang dates its usage from the late 19th century; fair in the sense of justifiable: [late 19C+] (orig. UK Und.): a justifiable arrest; usu. in the tongue-in-cheek phr. it’s a fair cop guvnor, put the bracelets on... any situation seen as fair and about which there is no complaint. Wiktionary cites an early usage: 1891, Montagu ...


26

Those two words are normally found together when you talk about accessing internals of mobile OS (operating system: Android or iOS etc.). Also, just to make it clear, it is not a phrase or an idiom. Those are two individual words. root (You root a mobile phone by rooting process) "Rooting is a process that allows you to attain root access to the Android ...


26

Though made popular by a song in the ’90s the expression appears to have originated a few decades earlier and it was probably just what bartenders used to say to clients who wanted to stay after closing time as the following source suggests: You don’t have to go home, but you can’t stay here” is what a bar manager might say to his last remaining ...


25

The first attestation of the phrase 'fat chance' I found is somewhat problematic, being in the 1778 (second) edition of Helenore; or, The fortunate shepherdess: a poem in the broad Scotch dialect, by Alexander Ross: Fat chance he furder had, she cud na tell, But was right fain, that she wan aff hersell. Some gloss: "fain" means 'glad'; "wan aff" means ...


25

According to the following article the idea of using terminology typical of marriage relationship dates back to the ‘30s. But the terms work wife/husband are relatively recent and date to the late ‘80s. Although the term “office wife” has been around since the 1930s, the modern definition, the one that places the “work spouses” in an equal partnership, ...


25

The earliest variant of the phrase I could verify in print was 'cheaper in the dozen', from an article in the Hartford Courant (Hartford, Connecticut) of 24 May 1790 (paywalled, emphasis mine): In New-York the price [of Webster's Spelling-books] has commonly been thirteen shillings New-York currency a dozen, which is three-pence lawful money cheaper in ...


24

N.B. Below is an image of the American dish, biscuits with gravy. Note that a biscuit in the US is similar to a scone, a type of cake. Photo: Lizzie Munro/Tasting Table This is what British speakers usually think of when using the term biscuit, a type of plain “cookie” Image source: The Guardian The following definitions of the idiom, take the biscuit, ...


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