Tag Archives: military
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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infantry

infantry

  La infanta doña Margarita de Austria (Infanta Margarita Teresa in a Pink Dress (circa 1665) by Juan Bautista Martínez del Mazo (circa 1612-67)       The noun infantry is, via French infanterie, from Italian infanteria, foot-soldiery. This Italian noun is from infante, a youth, a servant, a foot-soldier. The sense development of Italian infante […]

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Fabian

Fabian

   the first Fabian pamphlet (1884)       Founded in 1884, the Fabian Society is a British organisation of socialists aiming to achieve socialism by gradual rather than revolutionary means. It derives its name from the Roman general and statesman Quintus Fabius Maximus Verrucosus (died 203 BC), known as Fabius Cunctator. After Hannibal’s defeat […]

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diktat

diktat

  The signing of peace in the Hall of Mirrors, Versailles, 28th June 1919 Sir William Orpen (1878 -1931)       MEANING   an order or decree imposed by someone in power without popular consent     ORIGIN   This noun is from German Diktat, meaning dictation and compulsion, command. It is from Latin […]

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earth horn

earth horn

  The Battle of the Standard. Northallerton, by Sir John Gilbert (1817-97) watercolour, 1879-80, engraved by Madame Jacob-Bazin source: The Victorian Web       The nonce word earth horn denotes an instrument said to have been used by the English forces at the Battle of the Standard (1138), on Cowton Moor near Northallerton in […]

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Derby

Derby

  recruitment poster for the Derby scheme       The Derby is an annual flat race for three-year-old horses, founded in 1780 by the twelfth Earl of Derby (1752-1834), and run on Epsom Downs, in Surrey, England. The result of the first Derby, which took place on Thursday 4th May, was published in the London […]

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cockpit

cockpit

  THE BOREL HYDROPLANE. One of the first hydro-monoplanes adopted by the Government. Driven by an 80 h.p. Gnome engine mounted in front of the fuselage on double bearings. Floats sprung at the rear on rubber shock absorbers. Chassis built of streamlined steel tubes. Pilot and passenger in separate cockpits arranged tandem fashion. A small […]

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blotto

blotto

  image: Tonton Vélo       MEANING   drunk     ORIGIN   The word originated in World War One British military slang. It was first recorded by Ward Muir in Observations of an Orderly: Some Glimpses of Life and Work in an English War Hospital, published in July 1917: The words for drunkenness are […]

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flash in the pan – rater

flash in the pan – rater

  the components of a flintlock mechanism – photograph: Wikipedia       MEANING   A flash in the pan is a thing or person whose sudden but brief success is not repeated or repeatable.     ORIGIN   In old-fashioned firearms such as flintlocks, the main charge of gunpowder was filled in the barrel, […]

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put a sock in it!

put a sock in it!

  This cartoon by Bert Thomas (1883-1966) for the British Ministry of Information during World War II illustrates the folk etymology of the phrase.       MEANING   stop talking!     ORIGIN   The earliest known mention of this phrase is in a letter published by the London literary magazine The Athenæum of […]

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