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31 votes
Accepted

Understanding the joke, "Make an 'ell, I say" (from The Crux)

Foote sisters = three feet = one yard. The implication is likely also there that the three sisters all together at once is a lot to handle, socially and mentally, as they're described as having very ...
Anne Trotter's user avatar
23 votes
Accepted

Was Nabi Tajima (died this week at 117) born in the 19th or 20th Century?

In the Western calendar system based on the Gregorian calendar, the year zero does not exist. That means we started counting with year 1. That means that the first decade, the first century and the ...
oerkelens's user avatar
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12 votes

Understanding the joke, "Make an 'ell, I say" (from The Crux)

There's three sisters, and they are named Foote, which sounds like foot. So three Footes, or three feet, is a yard. This is a silly pun which, presumably, Mr. Lane finds more childish than amusing. To ...
gomennathan's user avatar
11 votes

Was Nabi Tajima (died this week at 117) born in the 19th or 20th Century?

Ms Tajima was born in the 19th Century. That is, between 1st January 1801 and 31st December 1900. I think if you were a mathematician you would like to argue that the calendar should have began at 0, ...
user294833's user avatar
9 votes

What is the meaning of "burke a school" in Anticipations?

It's outdated Victorian "slang"... burke (verb, transitive) LITERALLY To murder, in the same manner or for the same purpose as (mass murderer) Burke did; to kill secretly by suffocation or ...
FumbleFingers's user avatar
9 votes

Where does the expression “spill the tea” come from?

The expression appears to have originated in American black drag culture: It appears that T, also spelled tea, had a double-edged meaning in black drag culture. It could refer to a hidden truth, ...
user 66974's user avatar
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8 votes

Origin of the phrase "dollars to doughnuts"

The earliest Elephind match for "dollars to doughnuts" is from "Nevada Items," in the Sacramento [California] Daily Union (October 27, 1875): P. K. Mason, the chap who was arrested at Eureka the ...
Sven Yargs's user avatar
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7 votes

What is the meaning of "to have" in old cartoons?

Based on this “Little Red Riding Rabbit” TVTropes page, ta have is an affectation of Red: Verbal Tic: Red ends a lot of her lines with the exclamation “Ta’ Have!”, just another thing that makes her ...
Tinfoil Hat's user avatar
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7 votes
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What is the meaning of "burke a school" in Anticipations?

I don't know this work but the work was either abridged or enlarged and the version cited in the question is missing the explanation: He is a remnant and legacy of mediævalism, a sentimentalist ...
TimR's user avatar
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7 votes
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What did the word "Ade" mean in the English of a hundred years ago?

English Etymology: The surname derives from medieval forms of Adam or Adrian. Proper noun: Ade A surname​. (rare) A male given name – Wiktionary From Graham's comment: As an ...
Decapitated Soul's user avatar
7 votes
Accepted

What does Scandinavian Home mean? Late XIX, early XX century. Great Britain

Robert Hampson, in his essay "Topographical Mysteries: Conrad and London" says that the reference is to, as Kate Bunting says, a hostel for sailors. These often had a moral or social purpose. A "...
Michael Harvey's user avatar
5 votes

Was Nabi Tajima (died this week at 117) born in the 19th or 20th Century?

The year 1900 is more properly referred to as 1900 A.D. (or 1900 C.E.) which is itself an abreviated form of "The 1900th year of our Lord" (a.k.a. "The 1900th year of the Common Era") Because we are ...
Chronocidal's user avatar
  • 1,151
4 votes

Orwell: "A glimmer [is] one who watches vacant motor-cars." What does this mean?

Orwell attempts the etymology of his slang, saying of glimmer 'Glimmer' (with the verb 'to glim') may have something to do with the old word 'glim', meaning a light, or another old word 'glim', ...
deadrat's user avatar
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3 votes

What does "sidehill garger" mean? (early 20th-century American literature)

For fuller context, here is the vingette in which the (only) reference to "sidehill garger"—or to sidehill or garger separately—in William Long, Wood-Folk Comedies: The Play of Wild-animal ...
Sven Yargs's user avatar
  • 164k
3 votes

"Machine" as a 1920s American term for "car"

My parents born in 1902 and I in 1940 Baltimore Maryland. As a child they would say, "Should we walk or take the machine" meaning the car. For context, there were probably other regional ...
Al Rodbell's user avatar
3 votes

What is the meaning of "burke a school" in Anticipations?

Burke (Merriam-Webster): to suppress quietly or indirectly After, as the OP correctly deduces, William Burke, who smothered his victims. To "burke a school" would be to supress it, get it ...
Tevildo's user avatar
  • 1,283
3 votes
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Was "wasn't Chaplin in that one?" an expression in the 1920s?

It is a reference to "A Dog's Life" (1918) in which Chaplin (and his dog) steal food from a burger van: Charlie Chaplin and his brother Sydney in a scene from A Dog's Life (1918).
Greybeard's user avatar
  • 42.6k
3 votes
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What is the origin of the Australian slang “pommers” to refer to English people?

It's one of the many variants built off of the early-twentieth-century pommy. From The New Partridge Dictionary of Slang and Unconventional English: Pommy; Pommie noun an English person, or more ...
Heartspring's user avatar
  • 8,610
3 votes

define "the dangerous age"

The term "a dangerous age" is used most often to refer to the susceptibility to ideas, passions, and temptations of young people as they emerge from childhood and move toward adulthood. ...
Ken Liss's user avatar
  • 621
3 votes

Orwell: "A glimmer [is] one who watches vacant motor-cars." What does this mean?

glimming n. [glim v. (2); note London cab-driver jargon, glim, to look for a cab] (UK Und.) watching out for cabs etc. for wealthy people, in return for a tip. ... http://www.oxfordreference.com/...
user338260's user avatar
2 votes

Lozenge and lozenger, obsolete or not?

When I was a kid, I'd heard folks calling a confection as "LOZENGER". This seems to come from a phonetic spelling of the dialect pronunciation of lozenge as /ˈlɒzɪndʒə/ (lozz-in-juh). The ...
Greybeard's user avatar
  • 42.6k
2 votes

Lozenge and lozenger, obsolete or not?

As per OED, lozenger is still used but regionally: The sweetened, medicated tablet is spelled “lozenge” and pronounced LAH-zinj in standard English, according to dictionaries in the US and the UK. ...
fev's user avatar
  • 34.5k
2 votes

"Machine" as a 1920s American term for "car"

My grandfather, born around 1910, used "machine" to mean automobile. I asked him why. He explained that in his day, "car" referred to a streetcar, and "machine" meant ...
Tom Fitzgerald's user avatar
1 vote

Meaning of "fresh drummer" 1890-1944

Webby had not yet reached his teens when the family moved to a small Wisconsin town which rejoiced (and still does) in the name of Tomahawk. George Ade said it was once on the map in pencil, but "...
Greybeard's user avatar
  • 42.6k
1 vote

Meaning of "fresh drummer" 1890-1944

George Ade also uses the expression "fresh drummer" in "The Fable of The General Manager of the Love Affair Who Demanded a Furlough," in Forty Modern Fables (1901): "... If ...
Sven Yargs's user avatar
  • 164k
1 vote

Orwell: "A glimmer [is] one who watches vacant motor-cars." What does this mean?

However, in chapter XXXIII of Down and Out in London and Paris, Paddy earns a few extra shillings through glimming, which is referred to as a precarious job because it is illegal. Watching a car to ...
Deb's user avatar
  • 11
1 vote

Abbreviation 'p.e.p' on postcard from 1928

I think it might be p.c.s, standing for postcards. The first letter is clearly "p". The third letter looks like the writer's "s"s, particularly the one in "yesterday". The second letter doesn't ...
Peter Shor 's user avatar
1 vote

"Machine" as a 1920s American term for "car"

The OED traces to use of “Machine” (as a means of transport) thus 5. a. A ship or other vessel. Now colloquial: a boat. 1637 T. Heywood True Descr. Royall Ship 27 Shee [sc. Pallas] hath (no doubt)...
Greybeard's user avatar
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