‘Temptation’ in the Lord’s Prayer

‘Temptation’ in the Lord’s Prayer

  Notre Dame du Port – Clermont Ferrand (France)         To this day I suckle at the Lord’s Prayer like a child, and as an old man ...

The resistible rise of Marine Le Pen

The resistible rise of Marine Le Pen

     The new, reassuring face of old extremism       Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. Gospel ...

La langue française est-elle sexiste ?

La langue française est-elle sexiste ?

    You can read the article in English here Vous pouvez lire l’article en anglais ici       Considérons les termes français suivants, avec leurs équivalents anglais :   ...

Highlights

point-blank – de but en blanc

point-blank – de but en blanc

  Gunner’s quadrant Quadrant consisting of two arms of unequal length joined ...
to buttonhole

to buttonhole

            The verb buttonhole not only means ...
a fine kettle of fish

a fine kettle of fish

            The word kettle is from Old ...

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over the top

over the top

  The following photograph and comment were published in the American magazine Popular science Monthly of June 1918: Going “Over the Top” with the Soldiers at Camp Upton The accompanying photograph shows what the camera registered when the photographer took a snapshot of soldiers at Camp Upton while they were going “over the top” ― […]

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the crack of doom

the crack of doom

  Heinrich Füssli - Three Weird Sisters from Macbeth – 1783       The crack of doom is the end of the world.   The phrase refers literally to the peal of thunder or perhaps to the blast of the archangel’s trump of the Day of Judgement in the Book of Revelation (or Apocalypse).   […]

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back to the drawing board

back to the drawing board

  Peter Arno (Curtis Arnoux Peters, Jr – 1904-68)     MEANING   The phrase back to the drawing board is used to indicate that an idea, scheme, or proposal has been unsuccessful and that a new one must be devised.     ORIGIN   It was coined by the American cartoonist Peter Arno in […]

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a little bird told me

a little bird told me

  Le Malade imaginaire (The Imaginary Invalid) Honoré Daumier (1808-79)     The phrase a little bird told me is used to indicate that the speaker knows something but chooses to keep the identity of their informant secret.   The earliest occurrence of the phrase that I could find is in The Chapter of Accidents […]

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caviar

caviar

The letter written to his family by French resistant Yves Daoudal on 5th April 1944, before he was shot. A passage has been “caviardé”, blue-pencilled.     The phrase caviar to the general is used to denote a good thing unappreciated by the ignorant (here, the general refers to the multitude). It is a quotation […]

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Trench talk

Trench talk

       The following article was published in the American Everybody’s Magazine of January 1918.   Trench talk Some Characteristic Slang Creations of the Soldiers War is rich in new speech — so rich that in France, learned members of the French Academy have already begun to recognize, collect, and try to analyze some […]

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to turn up one’s toes

to turn up one’s toes

  Richard Harris Barham (1788-1845)     To turn up one’s toes, which means to die, derives from the phrase to turn up one’s toes to the daisies.   This phrase appeared in The Norfolk Tragedy. An Old Song to a New Tune, a tale written by Richard Harris Barham under the pen name of “Thomas […]

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pushing up daisies

pushing up daisies

  Pushing Daisies American television series – October 2007- June 2009           To be pushing up (the) daisies is to be dead and buried.   Daisies had been associated with death before (read to turn up one’s toes), but to be pushing up (the) daisies was originally WWI British slang. In January […]

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fresh as a daisy

fresh as a daisy

        The word daisy is from Old English dæges ēage, meaning day’s eye.   This name alludes to the fact that the flower opens in the morning and closes at night, as the human eye does. Perhaps its petals, which close over its bright centre at the end of the day, were […]

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show a leg

show a leg

        The phrase show a leg is a jocular call to wake up, get out of bed, or become active.   The popular explanation – of which there are almost as many variants as “authors” – follows this pattern: Sailors were often refused shore leave whilst a ship was in port for […]

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