Tag Archives: Virgil

witticism

    MEANING   a witty remark     ORIGIN   John Dryden (1631-1700), English poet, playwright and critic, coined witticism from the adjective witty on the pattern of criticism in The Authors Apology for Heroique Poetry; and Poetique Licence, an essay introducing The State of Innocence and Fall of Man (1677), an opera written […]

Continue Reading

to have a bee in one’s bonnet

    MEANING   to be preoccupied or obsessed with something     ORIGIN   This phrase is an alliterative and metonymic* transformation of the earlier one’s head full of bees, meaning scatter-brained, unable to think straight, as if bees are buzzing around in one’s head. (* An alliteration: bee and bonnet have the same […]

Continue Reading
sub tegmine fagi

sub tegmine fagi

  William Mason (1774), by Joshua Reynolds image: BBC ‘your paintings’       The Latin phrase sub tegmine fagi means under the cover of a beech tree. It is composed of sub, under, tegmine, ablative of tegmen, covering, and fagi, genitive of fagus, beech tree. It alludes to the bucolic setting evoked in the […]

Continue Reading
slogan

slogan

  The Death of Chatterton (1856), by Henry Wallis (1830-1916)         A slogan was originally a war cry or battle cry employed by Scottish Highlanders or Borderers, or by the native Irish, usually consisting of a personal surname or the name of a gathering-place. The word is from Gaelic sluagh-ghairm, composed of […]

Continue Reading
facilis descensus Averno

facilis descensus Averno

  Aeneas and the Sibyl, Lake Avernus (circa 1798), by Joseph Mallord William Turner (1775-1851) – image: Tate       MEANING   It is easy to slip into evil or immoral ways.     ORIGIN   Lake Avernus (in Italian Lago Averno) is a crater lake in Campania, southern Italy, near Cumae and Puteoli, […]

Continue Reading
red-letter day

red-letter day

  Calendar page for December from an illuminated Book of Hours (circa 1460). Special feasts are marked out in red ink. Photograph: University of Glascow Amongst the notable feasts for December, as shown here, are Saint Nicholas (December 6), the Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary (December 8) and Saint Nicasius (December 14). To the […]

Continue Reading
brownie

brownie

  an old Brownie-uniform - photograph: Magpie Club     Girls having “gatecrashed” the first Boy Scout Rally at Crystal Palace, London, in 1909, the Girl Guides Association was formed the following year. It was first led by Agnes Baden-Powell, Robert Baden-Powell’s sister. In 1918, Olave Baden-Powell, Robert’s wife, was appointed Chief Guide. The junior section for girls […]

Continue Reading
dandelion – pissenlit

dandelion – pissenlit

  the 1905 edition of Le Petit Larousse illustré, a French-language encyclopaedic dictionary published by the Éditions Larousse In 1890, Eugène Grasset (1845-1917) designed the image of la Semeuse (the Sower) blowing dandelion seeds, which accompanies the motto of the Éditions Larousse, Je sème à tout vent (I sow to the four winds).     The word dandelion is from French dent de lion, in Medieval […]

Continue Reading
to rule the roost

to rule the roost

  Roasting, Middle Ages. Luttrell Psalter – from Good Cheer: The Romance of Food and Feasting (1911), by Frederick W. Hackwood     To rule the roost means to be in a dominating position over others. This phrase conjures up a picture of a cock lording it over a group of hens, i.e. a roost, in the farmyard, and appears […]

Continue Reading
from pillar to post

from pillar to post

    The phrase from pillar to post means: from one party or place of appeal or resource to another; hither and thither; to and fro; implying repulse and harassment. Oxford English Dictionary - 1909   It was originally from post to pillar, and is first recorded around 1420: And when he thedyr came, Humylyté hym took A token and bad […]

Continue Reading

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