‘Jeevesian’: meaning and origin
Word histories » Etymology
by Pascal Tréguer
1d ago
of, or relating to, or characteristic of, or resembling, Jeeves—UK, 1934—refers to Jeeves, the perfect valet in stories by P. G. Wodehouse ..read more
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‘Jeeves-like’: meaning and origin
Word histories » Etymology
by Pascal Tréguer
2d ago
Canada, 1928—resembling Jeeves, the perfect valet in stories by the English author Pelham Grenville Wodehouse (1881-1975); this fictional character first appeared in 1915 ..read more
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‘a frog in one’s throat’: meaning and origin
Word histories » Etymology
by Pascal Tréguer
4d ago
USA, 1808—an irritation in the throat suggestive of an obstruction, producing a temporary croakiness or hoarseness—occasionally associated with the French, probably because ‘frog’ is derogatorily applied to them ..read more
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‘that’s rich, coming from —’: meaning and origin
Word histories » Etymology
by Pascal Tréguer
4d ago
UK, 1836—that’s a surprisingly unfair criticism, considering that the person who has just made it has the same fault—here, ‘rich’ means ‘preposterous’, ‘outrageous ..read more
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‘a hard act to follow’: meaning and origin
Word histories » Etymology
by Pascal Tréguer
1w ago
an impressive person or thing, viewed as being difficult to rival or surpass—USA, 1912, in reference to the difficulty faced by an entertainer coming on stage immediately after a popular or successful act ..read more
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‘Stakhanovitism’: meanings and origin
Word histories » Etymology
by Pascal Tréguer
1w ago
a movement, developed in the U.S.S.R. in 1935, aimed at encouraging hard work and maximum output, following the example of Alexei Stakhanov—by extension: exceptionally productive work, excessively intensive work ..read more
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‘to do a vanishing act’: meanings and origin
Word histories » Etymology
by Pascal Tréguer
1w ago
late 19th century—to disappear suddenly without leaving information about one’s whereabouts—from conjuring, in which ‘vanishing act’ designates an act of making a person or thing disappear as if by magic, and an act of disappearing in this manner ..read more
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‘the middle of nowhere’: meanings and early occurrences
Word histories » Etymology
by Pascal Tréguer
1w ago
a completely isolated, featureless or insignificant place—USA, 1848, as ‘to knock [something or someone] into the middle of nowhere’ with reference to annihilation ..read more
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‘give someone an inch and they’ll take a mile’: meaning and origin
Word histories » Etymology
by Pascal Tréguer
1w ago
the slightest concession will be unscrupulously exploited—USA, 1837, in Ralph Waldo Emerson’s diary—a later form of ‘give someone an inch and they’ll take an ell ..read more
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‘to stick out a mile’: meaning and origin
Word histories » Etymology
by Pascal Tréguer
2w ago
New Zealand, 1883, as ‘to stick out half a mile’—to be very prominent or conspicuous ..read more
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