Tag Archives: sports & games
to see which way the cat jumps

to see which way the cat jumps

  Tip-Cat in A Little Pretty Pocket-Book, Intended for the Instruction and Amusement of Little Master Tommy, and Pretty Miss Polly (1787 edition)     The phrase to see which way the cat jumps means to see what direction events are taking before committing oneself. One of its earliest instances is from The Berkshire Chronicle of 28th May 1825; an article titled Lord Liverpool and […]

Continue Reading
Aunt Sally

Aunt Sally

  Aunt Sally – from The Modern Playmate: A book of games, sports, and diversions for boys of all ages (new revised edition – 1875?), by John George Wood (1827-89)     The Oxford English Dictionary (first edition – 1885) thus defined Aunt Sally: a game much in vogue at fairs and races, in which the figure of a woman’s head […]

Continue Reading
earthling

earthling

  cover of Thrilling Wonder Stories (August 1951)     The noun earthling is composed of earth and the suffix -ling, meaning, in this case, a person belonging to. In science fiction, it is used by aliens to refer to an inhabitant of the earth. But this noun, which dates back to the late 16th […]

Continue Reading
above board

above board

  Le Tricheur à l’as de carreau, by Georges de La Tour (1593-1652)     MEANING   in the open; without dishonesty, concealment or fraud     ORIGIN   The adverb above board originally meant with one’s cards visible above the level of the board (that is, the playing table), so as to avoid suspicion of cheating. In A Dictionary of […]

Continue Reading
in the swim

in the swim

  G. A. SALA, TO SIR AUGUSTUS HARRIS, ON PASSING THE PALACE THEATRE:—“I SAY, GUS, THINGS LOOK A LITTLE LIVELIER HERE THAN WHEN YOU AND I WERE IN THE SWIM!” — from The Entr’acte and Limelight (London) of 10th March 1894 (Augustus Harris (1825-73) was a British actor and theatre manager. George Augustus Sala (1828-95), was an English journalist and author.) […]

Continue Reading
hat trick

hat trick

  THE HAT TRICK. ORGANISER OF GRACE TESTIMONIAL: — “I AM NOT DOING THIS TO GET ADVERTISEMENT; MY ONLY OBJECT IS TO HELP THIS POOR UNDERPAID CRICKETER!” caricature from The Entr’acte & Limelight (London) – 22nd June 1895 In 1895, a testimonial fund was set up for W. G. Grace (1848-1915), the Grand Old Man of English cricket. […]

Continue Reading
fag end

fag end

        MEANINGS   – the last part of something, especially when regarded as less important or interesting – British, informal: a cigarette end     ORIGIN   The obsolete adjective flag, attested in the late 16th century, meant flabby, hanging down. It was either an onomatopoeic formation or, via Middle French flac, from Latin flaccus, of same meaning. […]

Continue Reading
midinette

midinette

    Phonetically and semantically similar to milliner, the French word midinette was defined as “a milliner’s female assistant, especially in Paris” in the 1933 Supplement to the New English Dictionary (as the Oxford English Dictionary was known). However, while milliner literally means a Milanese, a native or inhabitant of Milan, midinette is a portmanteau word, composed of midi, midday, and dînette, light dinner, […]

Continue Reading
pigs might fly

pigs might fly

  Alice (with flamingo) chats with the Duchess illustration by John Tenniel (1820-1914)     “Thinking again?” the Duchess asked, with another dig of her sharp little chin. “I’ve a right to think,” said Alice sharply, for she was beginning to feel a little worried. “Just about as much right,” said the Duchess, “as pigs […]

Continue Reading

to chance one’s arm

    MEANING   British, informal: to undertake something although it may be dangerous or unsuccessful     ORIGIN   This phrase is first attested in the late 19th century. The Daily News (London) of Monday 13th November 1899 published the following explanation, which seems to allude to a comedian impersonating Robert Baden-Powell (1857-1941), English soldier […]

Continue Reading
1234

Unblog.fr | Créer un blog | Annuaire | Signaler un abus