Tag Archives: Celtic languages

to send to Coventry

    MEANING   to ostracise or ignore     ORIGIN   Coventry is a city in the west Midlands of England, historically in Warwickshire. In Dictionary of Phrase and Fable (1870 edition), Ebenezer Cobham Brewer (1810-97) gave the following origin of the phrase: This is a military term, according to Messrs. Chambers (“Cyclopædia”): The […]

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pogue

    MEANING   a kiss     ORIGIN   This Irish English noun, which has also been spelt poge, poage and póg, is from Irish póg, meaning a kiss. In An Irish-English Dictionary (1864), Edward O’Reilly gave the following translations: – pog, substantive feminine, a kiss; Welsh, poc. – pogadh, substantive, kissing. – pogaim, […]

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jewel – bijou

jewel – bijou

  Horace Walpole (circa 1756-57), by Sir Joshua Reynolds image: National Portrait Gallery       The noun jewel, which dates back to the late 13th century, is from Old French and Anglo-Norman forms such as juel, jeuiel, jouel, joyel, etc. The plural forms were juaux, jeuiauls, jouaux, joyaulx, etc. This is why the modern […]

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slogan

slogan

  The Death of Chatterton (1856), by Henry Wallis (1830-1916)         A slogan was originally a war cry or battle cry employed by Scottish Highlanders or Borderers, or by the native Irish, usually consisting of a personal surname or the name of a gathering-place. The word is from Gaelic sluagh-ghairm, composed of […]

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bugbear

bugbear

  a lamia, from The History of Four-footed Beasts and Serpents (1658) (A lamia was a fabulous monster supposed to have the body of a woman, and to prey upon human beings and suck the blood of children.)       MEANING   a cause of obsessive fear, anxiety or irritation     ORIGIN   […]

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sourpuss – glamour puss

sourpuss – glamour puss

    Puss [u sounded as in ‘full’]; the mouth and lips, always used in dialect in an offensive or contemptuous sense:—“What an ugly puss that fellow has.” “He had a puss on him,” i.e. he looked sour or displeased—with lips contracted. I heard one boy say to another:—“I’ll give you a skelp (blow) on […]

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tantrum

tantrum

  The White House had some unexpected drama when the daughter of journalist Laura Moser threw herself face-down on the carpet – at President Obama’s feet. New York Daily News – 23d May 2015       Often used in the plural, tantrum denotes an uncontrolled outburst of anger and frustration, typically in a young […]

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whisky

whisky

  A Nip against the Cold – 1869 by the Scottish painter Erskine Nicol (1825-1904)     Whisky, or whiskey, is a spirit distilled originally in Ireland and Scotland, and still chiefly in the British Isles, from malted barley with or without unmalted barley or other cereals, in the USA chiefly from maize or rye. […]

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Chester-Le-Street

Chester-Le-Street

  Chester-Le-Street – Front Street photograph: Wikimedia Commons/John Blackburne       The obsolete noun chester denoted a city or walled town. It is from Old English ceaster, from Latin castra, a plural neuter meaning camp. The noun chester has often been applied to places in Britain which had originally been Roman encampments. This is […]

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‘pie’

‘pie’

  mincemeat pie photograph: André Baranowski (saveur.com)     MEANING   A pie is a baked dish of fruit, or meat and vegetables, typically with a top and base of pastry.     ORIGIN   The word, which appeared in the early 14th century, is of uncertain origin. (No further related word is known outside […]

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