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Cliches and Expressions of origin

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Postby Jum В» 11.01.2020

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Cliches and expressions give us many wonderful figures of speech and words in the English language, as they evolve via use and mis-use alike. Many cliches and expressions - and words - have fascinating and surprising origins, and many popular assumptions about meanings and derivations are mistaken. These cliches, words and expressions origins and derivations illustrate the ever-changing complexity of language and communications, and are ideal free materials for word puzzles or quizzes, and team-building games.

Cliches and expressions are listed alphabetically according to their key word, for example, 'save your bacon' is listed under 'b' for bacon. Some expressions with two key words are listed under each word. A commonly ignored reference source for many words and expressions origins - especially for common cliches that are not listed in slang and expressions dictionaries - is simply to use an ordinary decent English dictionary Oxford English Dictionary or Websters, etc , which will provide origins for most words and many related phrases see the 'strong relief' example below.

The money slang section contains money slang and word origins and meanings, and English money history. The portmanteau words entry is a particularly interesting example of one of the very many different ways in which language evolves. The close relationship between society and language - especially the influence of French words in English history - is also fascinating, and this connection features in many words and expressions origins.

The lingua franca entry also helps explain this, and the organic nature of language change and development. These derivations have been researched from a wide variety of sources, which are referenced at the end of this section. These reference sources contain thousands more cliches, expressions, origins and meanings.

If you have corrections or further details about the words, cliches, expressions origins and derivations on this page, please send them. I'm not able to answer all such enquiries personally although selected ones will be published on this page.

The derivations quiz demonstrates that word and expressions origins can be used easily in quizzes, to teach about language, and also to emphasise the significance of cultural diversity in language and communications development. Argh the shortest version is an exclamation, of various sorts, usually ironic or humorous in this sense usually written and rarely verbal. More dramatically Aaaaaaaaaargh would be a written scream.

Aaaarrrgh there are hundreds of popular different spelling variants typically expresses a scream or cry of ironic or humorous frustration. The word itself and variations of Aaargh are flourishing in various forms due to the immediacy and popularity of internet communications blogs, emails, etc , although actually it has existed in the English language as an exclamation of strong emotion surprise, horror, anguish, according to the OED since the late s.

The OED prefers the spelling Aargh, but obviously the longer the version, then the longer the scream. In this respect it's a very peculiar and unusual word - since it offers such amazing versatility for the user. There are very few words which can be spelled in so many different ways, and it's oddly appropriate that any of the longer variants will inevitably be the very first entry in any dictionary.

Spelling of Aaaaarrgghh there's another one.. Repetition of 'G's and 'H's is far less prevalent. Notable and fascinating among these is the stock sound effect - a huge Aaaaaarrrgghhh noise - known as the Wilhelm Scream.

The sound effect was again apparently originally titled 'man being eaten by an alligator'. Please note that this screen version did not directly imply or suggest the modern written usage of Aaaarrrgh as an expression of shock - it's merely a point of related interest. The frustration signified by Aaargh can be meant in pure fun or in some situations in blogs for example with a degree of real vexation.

The powerful nature of the expression is such that it is now used widely as a heading for many articles and postings dealing with frustration, annoyance, etc. The main usage however seems to be as a quick response in fun, as an ironic death scream, which is similar to more obvious expressions like 'you're killing me,' or 'I could scream'. To some people Aaaaargh suggests the ironic idea of throwing oneself out of a towerblock window to escape whatever has prompted the irritation.

That said, broadly speaking, we can infer the degree of emotion from the length of the version used. Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaarrrrrrrrgh clearly has a touch more desperation than Aaarrgh. The use of Aaaaargh is definitely increasing in the 21st century compared to the 20th, and in different ways.

Often the meaning includes an inward element like Homer Simpson's 'doh', or an incredulous aspect like Victor Meldrew's 'I don't believe it', and perhaps in time different spellings will come to mean quite specifically different things. Interestingly the web makes it possible to measure the popularity of the the different spelling versions of Aargh, and at some stage the web will make it possible to correlate spelling and context and meaning.

For now, googling the different spellings will show you their relative popularity, albeit it skewed according to the use of the term on the web. I suspect that given the speed of the phone text medium, usage in texting is even more concentrated towards the shorter versions. See Oliver Steele's fascinating Aargh webpage , he gives also Hmmm the same treatment.. At the time of originally writing this entry April Google's count for Argh has now trebled from 3 million in to 9.

At Dec Google's count for Argh had doubled from the figure to Can you help find the earliest origins or precise sources of some relatively recent expressions and figures of speech?

Here are a few interesting sayings for which for which fully satisfying origins seem not to exist, or existing explanations invite expansion and more detail.

If you have early recollections of use when and when or suggestions of precise origins or authors of any of the above expressions please let me know , and I'll publish the findings on this page in the main listing. Let me know also if you want any mysterious expressions adding to the list for which no published origins seem to exist.

Gold does not dissolve in nitric acid, whereas less costly silver and base metals do. The use of nitric acid also featured strongly in alchemy, the ancient 'science' of attempting converting base metals into gold. This would naturally have extended as a metaphor to the notion favoured by Brewer of a conjuror preparing a trick with hands above the 'board' table , rather than below it, where the trickery could be concealed, 'under-hand' see also underhand.

An 'across the board' bet was one which backed a horse to win or be placed in the first three, or as Wentworth and Flexnor's Dictionary of American Slang suggests, across the board meant a bet in which " Additionally it has been suggested to me that a similar racetrack expression, 'across the boards' refers to the tendency for odds available for any given horse to settle at the same price among all bookmakers each having their own board , seemingly due to the laying off effect, whereby the odds would be the same 'across the boards'.

I can neither agree nor disagree with this, nor find any certain source or logic for this to be a more reliable explanation of the metaphorical expression, and so I add it here for what it is worth if you happen to be considering this particular expression in special detail. The basis of the meaning is that Adam, being the first man ever, and therefore the farthest removed from anyone, symbolises a man that anyone is least likely to know.

Out of interest, an 'off ox' would have been the beast pulling the cart on the side farthest from the driver, and therefore less known than the 'near ox'. This extension to the expression was American Worldwidewords references the dictionary of American Regional English as the source of a number of such USA regional variations ; the 'off ox' and other extensions such as Adam's brother or Adam's foot, are simply designed to exaggerate the distance of the acquaintance. Alligators were apparently originally called El Lagarto de Indias The Lizard of the Indies , 'el lagarto', logically meaning 'the lizard'.

Initially the word entered English as lagarto in the mids, after which it developed into aligarto towards the late s, and then was effectively revised to allegater by Shakespeare when he used the word in Romeo and Juliet, in It seems ack S Burgos that the modern Spanish word and notably in Castellano for lizard is lagartija, and lagarto now means alligator.

Cohen suggests the origin dates back to s New York City fraudster Aleck Hoag, who, with his wife posing as a prostitute, would rob the customers. Hoag bribed the police to escape prosecution, but ultimately paid the price for being too clever when he tried to cut the police out of the deal, leading to the pair's arrest.

In describing Hoag at the time, the police were supposedly the first to use the 'smart aleck' expression. The Old French word is derived from Latin 'amare' meaning 'to love'.

Traditionally all letters were referenced formally in the same way. The ampersand symbol itself is a combination - originally a ligature literally a joining - of the letters E and t, or E and T, being the Latin word 'et' meaning 'and'. The earliest representations of the ampersand symbol are found in Roman scriptures dating back nearly 2, years.

If you inspect various ampersand symbols you'll see the interpretation of the root ET or Et letters. The symbol has provided font designers more scope for artistic impression than any other character, and ironically while it evolved from hand-written script, few people use it in modern hand-writing, which means that most of us have difficulty in reproducing a good-looking ampersand by hand without having practised first.

See the ampersand exercise ideas. The theory goes that in ancient times the pupil of the eye the black centre was thought to be a small hard ball, for which an apple was a natural symbol. Logically the pupil or apple of a person's eye described someone whom was held in utmost regard - rather like saying the 'centre of attention'.

Strangely Brewer references Deuteronomy chapter 32 verse 3, which seems to be an error since the verse is definitely Erber came from 'herber' meaning a garden area of grasses, flowers, herbs, etc, from, logically Old French and in turn from from Latin, herba, meaning herb or grass.

The word history is given by Cassells to be 18th century, taken from Sanskrit avatata meaning descent, from the parts ava meaning down or away, and tar meaning pass or cross over. In more recent times the word has simplified and shifted subtly to mean more specifically the spiritual body itself rather than the descent or manifestation of the body, and before its adoption by the internet, avatar had also come to mean an embodiment or personification of something, typically in a very grand manner, in other words, a " The virtual reality community website Secondlife was among the first to popularise the moden use of the word in website identities, and it's fascinating how the modern meaning has been adapted from the sense of the original word.

The idea of losing a baby when disposing of a bathtub's dirty water neatly fits the meaning, but the origins of the expression are likely to be no more than a simple metaphor.

Murner, who was born in and died in , apparently references the baby and bathwater expression several times in his book, indicating that he probably did not coin the metaphor and that it was already established in Germany at that time. Thanks MS for assistance. Later the use of bandbox was extended to equate to a hatbox, so the meaning of the phrase alludes to someone's appearance, especially their clothing, being as smart as a new hat fresh out of a hatbox.

In more recent times, as tends to be with the evolution of slang, the full expression has been shortened simply to 'bandbox'. In the US bandbox is old slang late s, through to the early s for a country workhouse or local prison, which, according to Cassells also referred later ss to a prison from which escape is easy. These US slang meanings are based on allusion to the small and not especially robust confines of a cardboard hatbox.

I am additionally informed thanks V Smith that bandbox also refers to a small ballpark stadium with short boundaries enabling relatively easy home runs to be struck in baseball games. The bandbox expression in baseball seemingly gave rise to the notion of band's box in a small theatre, which could be either an additional or alternative root of the expression when it is used in the baseball stadium context. Quite separately I am informed thanks I Sandon that 'bandboxing' is a specific term in the air traffic control industry: " The idea is that as workload permits, sectors can be combined and split again without having to change the frequencies that aircraft are on.

You may have noticed that for a particular 'SID' 'standard instrument departure' - the basic take-off procedure you are almost always given the same frequency after departure.

By 'bandboxing' two adjacent sectors working them from a single position rather than two you can work aircraft in the larger airspace at one time saving staff and also simplifying any co-ordination that may have taken place when they are 'split'. To facilitate this the two frequencies are 'cross-coupled'. This means that the controller transmits on both frequencies simultaniously and when an aircraft calls on one, the transmission is retransmitted on the second frequency.

Therefore the pilots are much less likely to step on one another and it appears as if all aircraft are on the same frequency. Then when traffic loading requires the sectors to be split once more, a second controller simply takes one of the frequencies from the other, the frequencies are un-cross-coupled, and all being well there is a seamless transition from the pilots' perspective!

I am therefore at odds with most commentators and dictionaries for suggesting the following: The 'bring home the bacon' expression essentially stems from the fact that bacon was the valuable and staple meat provision of common people hundreds of years ago, and so was an obvious metaphor for a living wage or the provision of basic sustenance.

Peasants and poor town-dwelling folk in olden times regarded other meats as simply beyond their means, other than for special occasions if at all. Bacon was a staple food not just because of availability and cost but also because it could be stored for several weeks, or most likely hung up somewhere, out of the dog's reach.

Other reasons for the significance of the word bacon as an image and metaphor in certain expressions, and for bacon being a natural association to make with the basic needs of common working people, are explained in the 'save your bacon' meanings and origins below.

Additionally the 'bring home the bacon' expression, like many other sayings, would have been appealing because it is phonetically pleasing to say and to hear mainly due to the 'b' alliteration repetition.

Expressions which are poetic and pleasing naturally survive and grow - 'Bring home the vegetables' doesn't have quite the same ring. According to Allen's English Phrases there could possibly have been a contributory allusion to pig-catching contests at fairs, and although at first glance the logic for this seems not to be strong given the difference between a live pig or a piglet and a side of cured bacon the suggestion gains credibility when we realise that until the late middle ages bacon referred more loosely to the meat of a pig, being derived from German for back.

Whatever, the idea of 'bringing home' implicity suggests household support, and the metaphor of bacon as staple sustenance is not only supported by historical fact, but also found in other expressions of olden times.

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