Tag Archives: dictionaries
cricket

cricket

  The evolution of the cricket bat (The first cricket bat looked like a hockey stick) source: World Cricket Watch     The French ‘jeu de la crosse’ – 18th century The English game of cricket – 18th century       ♦ The name of the insect related to the grasshoppers dates back to the […]

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clue – clew

    The noun clue appeared as a variant spelling of clew, of same pronunciation. Not frequent until the 17th century, clue has become the prevailing form of the word in the sense of a fact or idea that serves to reveal something or solve a problem. The word is from Old English cliwen, cleowen, meaning a ball formed by winding yarn, twine or thread (it […]

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to be fed up

to be fed up

  Sunderland Day By Day HE SMASHED WINDOW— Because He Was “Fed Up” “I AM ‘fed up’; I have been out of work six years and I want to be locked up,” said John Scott (61), of Hood Street, Monkwearmouth, who appeared in the dock at Sunderland Police Court to-day accused of breaking a plate […]

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poor as a church mouse

poor as a church mouse

  woodwork in Easingwold Parish Church – Diocese of York Robert Thompson, the Kilburn craftsman, invariably carved a little mouse on his work. photograph: Visit Easingwold     The phrase as poor as a church mouse means extremely poor. It is first recorded in The royalist a comedy (1682), by the English author Thomas D’Urfey (1653-1723): ’Gad if he threatens […]

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fly-by-night

fly-by-night

  Linda maestra! (Pretty teacher!, published in 1799), by Francisco José de Goya y Lucientes (1746-1828)     The noun fly-by-night, or fly-by-nighter, denotes an unreliable or untrustworthy person. As an adjective, fly-by-night means unreliable or untrustworthy, especially in business or financial matters. However, the term seems to go back to the idea of witches flying on their broomsticks by night. At least, […]

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cap-a-pie

    The adverb cap-a-pie (pie pronounced as the word pea) means (dressed, armed) from head to foot. It appeared as a military term in the 16th century. It is first recorded in the 1523-25 translation of the French work Les Chroniques de Jean Froissart (circa 1337-1400), by Sir John Bourchier Lord Berners: They helde themselfe styll in […]

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dandelion – pissenlit

dandelion – pissenlit

  the 1905 edition of Le Petit Larousse illustré, a French-language encyclopaedic dictionary published by the Éditions Larousse In 1890, Eugène Grasset (1845-1917) designed the image of la Semeuse (the Sower) blowing dandelion seeds, which accompanies the motto of the Éditions Larousse, Je sème à tout vent (I sow to the four winds).     The word dandelion is from French dent de lion, in Medieval […]

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shell out

shell out

  The phrasal verb shell out means to pay a specified amount of money, especially one regarded as excessive. It is first recorded in Moral tales for young people (1801), by the Anglo-Irish novelist and educationist Maria Edgeworth (1768-1849): “One of you, it’s plain, must shell out your corianders.” (The word coriander (or coliander), short for coriander-seed (or coliander-seed), was slang for coin, money. The form coliander-seed, defined as meaning money, is first attested, […]

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helpmate

helpmate

    The Creation of Eve – Cathedral of Orvieto, Italy     A helpmate is a helpful companion or partner, especially one’s husband or wife.   The word dates back to the late 17th century, as helpmeet.   The New English Dictionary said of helpmeet in 1901: A compound absurdly formed by taking the two […]

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to make (both) ends meet

to make (both) ends meet

    To make (both) ends meet means to earn just enough money to live on. It is first recorded in The History of the Worthies of England (1662), by the Church of England clergyman Thomas Fuller (1607/8-61). The author wrote the following about the English Protestant leader Edmund Grindal (1519-83) – in the original text, to put off his […]

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