Tag Archives: military
parleyvoo

parleyvoo

      Mademoiselle from Armentières, also known as Hinky Dinky Parlay Voo?, was a WWI drinking/marching song.       As a verb, parleyvoo means to speak French, and, as a noun, it designates the French language and a Frenchman.   It is a jocular respelling of parlez-vous, apparently from questions such as parlez-vous […]

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Our Joffre, which art in heaven…

Our Joffre, which art in heaven…

    first published in 1914 in Le Radical de Marseille (75 refers to the French 75-mm field gun.)     From 1914 to 1916, Joseph Joffre (1852-1931) was the commander in chief of the French armies on the Western Front. The following parody of the Lord’s Prayer is to be replaced in its historical context. The First World War took […]

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point-blank – de but en blanc

point-blank – de but en blanc

  Gunner’s quadrant Quadrant consisting of two arms of unequal length joined at a right angle and fitted with a graduated arc. At the vertex of the right angle is suspended a plumb bob that shows the degrees on the graduated arc. It was typically used to measure the elevation of artillery pieces, by inserting […]

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freelance

freelance

    The term freelance appeared, as two words and in the sense of a medieval mercenary, in Walter Scott’s novel Ivanhoe (1819). In chapter 34, Scott wrote: “It is truth itself”, said De Bracy. “I was his prisoner, and spoke with him”. “With Richard Plantagenet, sayest thou?” continued Fitzurse. “With Richard Plantagenet”, replied De […]

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forlorn hope

forlorn hope

    MEANING   a persistent or desperate hope that is unlikely to be fulfilled, a faint hope, a ‘hope against hope’     ORIGIN   On the face of it, this is a curious expression, because the adjective forlorn does not normally mean faint but miserable, lonely, forsaken or sad. The current sense of forlorn hope derives either from wordplay or from a misunderstanding of […]

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jingoism & chauvinism

jingoism & chauvinism

  Retour de Napoléon dans l’île de Lobau après la bataille d’Essling Charles Meynier     The English word jingo and the French word chauvin both apply to that ultra-patriotic section of the population which, in war-time, attends to the shouting.     Jingo first appeared in conjurors’ jargon of the 17th century. It was used in the oath […]

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