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slapstick

slapstick

    A slapstick consists of two flat pieces of wood joined together at one end, used to produce a loud slapping noise.   Although the device is much older, the word slapstick itself, originally American English, only dates from the late 19th century. The double-slatted paddle was specially used in pantomime and ‘low’ comedy to […]

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domino

domino

  The Ridotto in Venice – 1750s by the Venetian painter Pietro Longhi (circa 1701-85)     A domino is a kind of loose cloak, apparently of Venetian origin, chiefly worn at masquerades, with a small mask covering the upper part of the face, by persons not personating a character. The word, first recorded in […]

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to season – assaisonner

to season – assaisonner

  Michelle Shocked (born Karen Michelle Johnston)     The noun season is from Old French seson (Modern French saison), which is generally said to be from Latin satio(n-), act of sowing, later time of sowing, from the root of serere, to sow.   However, season is estación in Spanish, estació in Catalan, estação in […]

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gigolo (texte français)

gigolo (texte français)

  You can read this article in English here Vous pouvez lire cet article en anglais ici   Louis Prima (1910-78)   Just a Gigolo-I ain’t got nobody (1956) cliquez sur la flèche     De nos jours, le mot gigolo désigne un jeune homme qui est l’amant d’une femme, généralement plus âgée que lui, et […]

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gigolo (English text)

gigolo (English text)

  Vous pouvez lire cet article en français ici You can read this article in French here   Louis Prima (1910-78)   Just a Gigolo-I ain’t got nobody (1956) click on the arrow for music     A gigolo is a young man paid or financially supported by a woman, typically an older woman, to […]

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by bell, book, and candle

by bell, book, and candle

  The Excommunication of Robert the Pious (1875) by Jean-Paul Laurens The officiants have just excommunicated Robert by bell, book, and candle, and left the quenched candle behind. Robert II of France was excommunicated by Pope Gregory V for his marriage to Bertha of Burgundy in 996, because she was his cousin.     In a previous article (tace […]

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to take someone down a peg

to take someone down a peg

    Photograph: Sweet Music Index       The phrase to take or bring (someone) down a peg (or two) means to make someone realise that they are less talented or important than they think they are.   It seems that peg here designates the pin of wood or metal around which is fastened […]

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limelight

limelight

      Chaplin was interviewed by the BBC on the eve of Limelight’s premiere       Limelight – music by Charlie Chaplin Click on the arrow     The only known novella by Charlie Chaplin has been published, 66 years after it was written.   Footlights, the basis for his 1952 film Limelight, has […]

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handicap

handicap

  A contraction of hand in cap, the word handicap dates back to the mid-17th century, and was originally the name of a betting game in which players put forfeit money in a cap or bag and then drew from it.   The game was described by J. S. Coyne in Notes and Queries, dated […]

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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 of Matthew – 7:15    The tricolour logo of Rassemblement Bleu Marine     The Front National, France’s main far-right party, was renamed Rassemblement Bleu Marine when Marine Le […]

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