Tag Archives: sports & games
alphin

alphin

  photograph: the chess piece       In the early game of chess, an alphin was each of four pieces able to move two squares diagonally, jumping over the middle square. It was superseded by the bishop at the end of the 15th century. The word is from post-classical Latin alphinus, Anglo-Norman aufyn, Anglo-Norman […]

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hands down

hands down

      MEANING   The adverb hands down means easily and decisively, especially in to win hands down.   ORIGIN   In horse racing, a jockey who is winning comfortably rides with hands held loosely down, there being no need to use them to bring pressure on the horse. The phrase first appeared in […]

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dark horse

dark horse

  The Derby was decided by a photo-finish for the first time in 1949, with Nimbus (centre) the winner by a head.     The British politician and writer Benjamin Disraeli (1804-81) is often credited with being the first user of dark horse in the sense of a horse about whose racing powers little is […]

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to leave in the lurch

to leave in the lurch

  A game of tric-trac (about 1630), by the Dutch painter Judith Leyster (1609-60) image: Worcester Art Museum       MEANING   to leave an associate or friend abruptly and without assistance or support when they are in a difficult situation     ORIGIN   FRENCH & GERMAN   Middle French lourche was the […]

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