Tag Archives: discriminations
‘quiz’

‘quiz’

  Frances Burney (circa 1784-85) by Edward Francisco Burney National Portrait Gallery       MEANING   The noun quiz has the general sense of a set of questions used to test knowledge or to promote learning. In American English, a quiz is a short oral or written examination given by a teacher. In British […]

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j’accuse

j’accuse

  the newspaper L’Aurore – 13 January 1898     MEANING   The English noun j’accuse denotes an accusation, especially one made publicly in response to a perceived injustice, and more generally a public denunciation.     ORIGIN   It is from French J’Accuse…!, I Accuse…!, the title of an open letter from Émile Zola […]

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syphilis

syphilis

  Electron micrograph of Treponema pallidum     Syphilis is a chronic bacterial disease that is contracted chiefly by infection during sexual intercourse, but also congenitally by infection of a developing foetus. This is caused by the spirochaete Treponema pallidum.   The word is from post-classical Latin syphilis, which was originally the title (in full, […]

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bulldozer

bulldozer

  bulldozer – photograph: David Drew     The noun bulldozer and the noun and verb bulldoze are first recorded in American newspapers’ accounts of the chaotic 1876 presidential campaign and election. In the South, groups of armed white men backing the Democratic candidate, Samuel J. Tilden, used intimidation and violence against the black citizens who […]

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Grub Street

Grub Street

  Grub Street – John Rocque’s 1746 map of London     MEANING   The noun Grub Street denotes the world or class of literary hacks. As an adjective, also spelt Grubstreet, it means having the nature of literary hack-work.     ORIGIN   In A Dictionary of the English Language (1755), Samuel Johnson gave […]

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tinker

tinker

  Irish Travellers in 1954 A family in their decorated caravan en route to the Cahirmee Horse Fair at Buttevant, County Cork photograph: National Library of Ireland     MEANINGS   Historically, a tinker was a person who made a living by travelling from place to place mending pans and other metal utensils. Because the […]

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moonraker

moonraker

  Whiltshire     MEANING   A moonraker is a native of the county of Wiltshire, in England.     ORIGIN   Francis Grose explained the word in A Provincial Glossary, with a collection of local proverbs, and popular superstitions (1787): Wiltshire moon-rakers Some Wiltshire rusticks, as the story goes, seeing the figure of the […]

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lubber

lubber

    Nowadays, lubber is short for landlubber, which designates a person unfamiliar with the sea or sailing. But the original meaning of lubber was a big, clumsy, stupid fellow, especially one who lives in idleness. According to an unconvincing etymology, this noun is from Old French lobeur, the agent of the verb lober, meaning […]

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Yorkshire tyke

Yorkshire tyke

  The Trial of the Notorious Highwayman Richard Turpin Thomas Kyll’s pamphlet, published 10 days after Turpin’s execution on 7th April 1739, provides an eye-witness account of the trial.       Yorkshire tyke, or simply tyke, is used as a nickname for a person from Yorkshire.   The noun tyke is from Old Norse tík, […]

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white feather

white feather

  illustration for The White Feather. A Sketch of English Recruiting   Inglorious Upshot That evening as he was walking from the station on his way home, three smartly-dressed girls, approaching, barred the pavement. He stopped. “How young he is, the poor darling!” murmured fondly the central maiden, and, suddenly producing a large white feather, […]

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