Tag Archives: radio-tv-cinema
‘pleb’

‘pleb’

  MEANING   informal and derogatory: an ordinary person, especially one from the lower social classes     ORIGIN   The noun pleb, which appeared in the late 18th century, is a shortened form of plebeian. The plural plebs, meaning the common people, dates back to the late 16th century. It is from Latin plebs/plebis, […]

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smoke and mirrors

smoke and mirrors

  Jimmy Breslin, born in 1930, is a Pulitzer Prize-winning American political journalist and author.       MEANING   the obscuring or embellishing of the truth of a situation with misleading or irrelevant information     ORIGIN   This phrase refers to the illusion created by conjuring tricks. It was coined by the American […]

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once in a blue moon

once in a blue moon

      Unrelated to the phrase once in a blue moon, the astronomical term blue moon first appeared in the USA in August 1937: Maine Farmers’ Almanac used it to denote the third full moon in a season which exceptionally contains four full moons (as defined by the mean sun, each season normally contains three full […]

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to cut to the chase

to cut to the chase

  Keystone Cops photograph: Shades of gray       MEANING   Originally American, the phrase to cut to the chase means to come to the point.     ORIGIN   In cinematography, to cut a film is to make it into a coherent whole by removing parts or placing them in a different order. To […]

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fracas

fracas

  Nell Gwyn as Cupid (circa 1672) engraving by Richard Thomson of a painting by Peter Cross     On Tuesday 10th March 2015, Jeremy Clarkson, the presenter of the popular TV show Top Gear, was suspended following what the BBC said was “a fracas” with a producer (in fact, Clarkson punched him).   A […]

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grotty

grotty

  Lime Street in the 1890s     MEANING   This informal British adjective is a general term of disapproval meaning unpleasant, dirty, ugly, etc.   ORIGIN   A slang abbreviation of grotesque, grotty seems to have originated in Liverpool, Lancashire. The word is credited to John Burke, who wrote the novelisation of A Hard […]

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excuse my French

excuse my French

  advertisement from The Mid-Sussex Times of 27th March 1923: THE PICTURE THEATRE, HAYWARDS HEATH. “PARDON MY FRENCH” AND “A CERTAIN RICH MAN.” Do you enjoy a good laugh? If you do go and see “Pardon my French” at the Heath Theatre to-night or on Wednesday. It is a pert pot-pourri of pep and romance. […]

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slapstick

slapstick

    A slapstick consists of two flat pieces of wood joined together at one end, used to produce a loud slapping noise.   Although the device is much older, the word slapstick itself, originally American English, only dates from the late 19th century. The double-slatted paddle was specially used in pantomime and ‘low’ comedy to […]

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to season – assaisonner

to season – assaisonner

  Michelle Shocked (born Karen Michelle Johnston)     The noun season is from Old French seson (Modern French saison), which is generally said to be from Latin satio(n-), act of sowing, later time of sowing, from the root of serere, to sow.   However, season is estación in Spanish, estació in Catalan, estação in […]

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shambles

shambles

    Old York: the Shambles illustration by Charles G. Harper for his book The Great North Road, The Old Mail Road to Scotland, York to Edinburgh (1901) (The pavements are raised either side of the cobbled street to form a channel where the butchers would wash away the offal and blood.)     A […]

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