Tag Archives: Christianity
to go to pot

to go to pot

  woodcut from Warhaftige Historia und beschreibung eyner Landtschafft der Wilden Nacketen, Grimmigen Menschfresser-Leuthen in der Newenwelt America gelegen (True Story and Description of a Country of Wild, Naked, Grim, Man-eating People in the New World, America - 1557) by the German soldier and explorer Hans Staden (circa 1525-79)       MEANING   to deteriorate through neglect […]

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fleshpots

fleshpots

  Jonathan Swift by or after Charles Jervas (1709-10) image: National Portrait Gallery         MEANING   places providing luxurious or hedonistic living     ORIGIN   Literally, a fleshpot is a pot in which flesh, i.e. meat, is boiled to eat. The source is biblical. In the Book of Exodus, 16:3, when […]

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to chop and change

to chop and change

  photograph of William Makepeace Thackeray by Jesse Harrison Whitehurst       MEANING   to change one’s opinions or behaviour repeatedly and abruptly     ORIGIN   In this phrase, to chop originally meant to barter, and to change meant to make an exchange with. In other words, this was an alliterative repetitive expression, […]

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to turn a deaf ear

to turn a deaf ear

     MEANING   to refuse to listen or respond to a statement or request     ORIGIN   The phrase to turn a deaf ear is perhaps a variant of the earlier to give, and lend, a deaf ear, themselves related to the expressions to give ear and to lend an ear (or one’s […]

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blockhead

blockhead

  Erasmus – Paraphrases upon the New Testament (1551 edition) photograph: Humber Books       MEANING   a very stupid person     ORIGIN   A blockhead was originally a wooden block shaped like a head, used for making hats or wigs. The noun was used figuratively to denote a person’s head containing no more […]

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Bloody Mary

Bloody Mary

  Advertisement in the magazine Life – 17th March 1961 The Bloody María (anything vodka can do, Ronrico Rum can do better) The difference between a Bloody Mary and a Bloody María is the difference between Mary and María. María is Mary set to music. A Bloody María is easy to make. Simply use Ronrico […]

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once in a blue moon

once in a blue moon

      Unrelated to the phrase once in a blue moon, the astronomical term blue moon first appeared in the USA in August 1937: Maine Farmers’ Almanac used it to denote the third full moon in a season which exceptionally contains four full moons (as defined by the mean sun, each season normally contains three full […]

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red-letter day

red-letter day

  Calendar page for December from an illuminated Book of Hours (circa 1460). Special feasts are marked out in red ink. Photograph: University of Glascow Amongst the notable feasts for December, as shown here, are Saint Nicholas (December 6), the Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary (December 8) and Saint Nicasius (December 14). To the […]

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blue blood

blue blood

  The Third Estate carrying the Clergy and the Nobility on its back (late 18th-century French print) – Bibliothèque nationale de France A faut esperer q’eu.s jeu la finira bentot (= Il faut espérer que ce jeu-là finira bientôt, You should hope that this game will be over soon)       After the Reconquista, […]

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Vicar of Bray

Vicar of Bray

  St Michael’s church, Bray, Berkshire photograph: Nash Ford’s Royal Berkshire History       MEANING   A vicar of Bray; one who frequently changes his principles, always siding with the strongest party. A Classical Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue (1785), by Francis Grose     ORIGIN   The Vicar of Bray (a village near […]

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