Tag Archives: Japan
to miss the bus

to miss the bus

  The phrase to miss the bus, or the boat, etc., means to be too slow to take advantage of an opportunity. In A Concise Dictionary of Phrase and Fable (1993), B. A. Phythian explained: This expression is said to originate in an Oxford story of the 1840s about John Henry Newman, fellow of Oriel College, vicar of the University […]

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corduroy

corduroy

  photograph: javi.velazquez       MEANING   a heavy cotton pile fabric with lengthways ribs     ORIGIN: UNKNOWN   The original form of this noun, in the late 18th century, was corderoy. The earliest use of the word that I could find is in The Manchester Mercury (Lancashire) of Tuesday 7th April 1772: Manchester, March 23, 1772. STOLEN. From […]

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Hobson’s choice

Hobson’s choice

  Thomas Hobson (1629), by an unknown artist – image: National Portrait Gallery     MEANING   the option of taking the one thing offered or nothing    ORIGIN   The earliest use of the phrase (in its present form, if the original spelling was preserved) that I could find dates back to 1649. That year, […]

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tycoon

    MEANING   a wealthy, powerful person in business or industry     ORIGIN   This word is from Japanese taikun, itself from Chinese ta, great, and chün, ruler. Tycoon was originally the title by which the shogun of Japan was described to foreigners from the mid-19th century to the end of the Tokugawa […]

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umami

    MEANING   The noun umami denotes a category of taste corresponding to the ‘savoury’ flavour of free glutamates in various foods, especially protein-rich fermented and aged ones such as mature cheeses and soy sauce, specially the flavour of monosodium glutamate. Umami is sometimes described as a fifth basic taste alongside sweet, sour, salt, […]

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kamikaze

kamikaze

  Mongols’ Invasion (Mooko shuurai - 1847), by Kikuchi Yoosai (1781-1878) image: Wikimedia Commons       Shinto (the way of the gods, from Chinese shên, gods, and tao, way) is the native Japanese religion dating from the early 8th century and incorporating the worship of ancestors and nature spirits and a belief in sacred power (kami) in […]

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rickshaw

rickshaw

  jinrikishas, from The Gist of Japan (1897), by the Reverend R. B. Peery     The English noun rickshaw is a shortening of the Japanese jinrikisha, which seems to have first appeared in English in A Ramble Round the World, 1871 (1874), the translation by Mary Elizabeth Herbert (1822-1911) of Promenade autour du monde, 1871 […]

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