Tag Archives: Northumberland
cold comfort

cold comfort

  AUTHOR OF “COLD COMFORT FARM”: MISS STELLA GIBBONS. Miss Stella Gibbons’s novel has been most favourably reviewed. It is a well-sustained parody of the Loam-and-Love-child school of fiction. from The Sketch (London) of 21st September 1932     The expression cold comfort means inadequate consolation for a misfortune. The adjective cold has long been […]

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French kiss

French kiss

  Newcastle-upon-Tyne: the window through which Bessie Surtees eloped with her lover, John Scott, later Lord Eldon – photograph: English Heritage     The adjective French has long been used with the implication of sexual adventurousness or explicitness. For example, a Court lampoon of 1682 contains the following about Mary Kirke, wife of Sir Thomas […]

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Wuthering Heights

Wuthering Heights

  The remote, abandoned farm of Top Withens (or Top Withins) is often thought of as the inspiration for the Wuthering Heights farmhouse. — Source and photograph: The Reader’s Guide to Emily Brontë’s “Wuthering Heights”       The obsolete Scottish and dialectal English verb to whither is from an assumed Old Norse verb hviðra, […]

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bluestocking

bluestocking

  Benjamin Stillingfleet, by Johann Zoffany     MEANING   A bluestocking is an intellectual or literary woman.     ORIGIN   The term blue stocking originally alluded to blue stockings as worn by men, specifically cheap blue worsted stockings as opposed to more expensive and formal white silk stockings. Originally, blue stocking was particularly […]

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Chester-Le-Street

Chester-Le-Street

  Chester-Le-Street – Front Street photograph: Wikimedia Commons/John Blackburne       The obsolete noun chester denoted a city or walled town. It is from Old English ceaster, from Latin castra, a plural neuter meaning camp. The noun chester has often been applied to places in Britain which had originally been Roman encampments. This is […]

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Scouse

Scouse

  Albert Dock, Liverpool     MEANING   A Scouse, or Scouser, is a person from Liverpool, Lancashire, and Scouse is the dialect or accent of people from Liverpool. Liverpool is a city and seaport in North-West England, situated at the east side of the mouth of the River Mersey. Liverpool developed as a port […]

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Geordie

Geordie

  A trainload of coal on the High Level Bridge in Newcastle photograph: Stephen Craven     Geordie was originally a Scots and northern-English pet form of the forename George. The Scots and northern-English diminutive suffix -die is a variant of -y added to words or curtailed forms of words ending in r, l, or n. […]

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avoirdupois

avoirdupois

  Old brass and bronze avoirdupois weights photograph: Things I want to know     Avoirdupois, or avoirdupois weight, is a system of weights used in many English-speaking countries. It is based on the pound, which contains 16 ounces or 7000 grains. 100 US pounds or British 112 pounds is equal to 1 hundredweight, and […]

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coals to Newcastle

coals to Newcastle

  A trainload of coal on the High Level Bridge in Newcastle photograph: Stephen Craven     The phrase to carry coals to Newcastle means to take something where it is already plentiful, hence to do what is absurdly superfluous. (Coals is an obsolete plural.) Since the 13th century, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, in Northumberland, had been an important […]

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copper – cop

copper – cop

        The noun cop, meaning police officer, is sometimes explained, by folk etymology, as being the acronym of constable on patrol (or of chief of police). (Such a fanciful expansion of an existing acronym or word is a backronym. Also read Acronyms & backronyms and On ‘posh’)   Neither is the word cop, or copper, […]

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