candle shops near meExpressionsThe Bible instructs Christians that they should go through the world Holding forth the word of life
A meaningless Latinsounding formula that used to be spoken by conjurers or jugglers to give an air of mystery or magic to their performance. It may have originated with a specific early th century conjurer who not only used the formula but also adopted it as his stagename; it certainly became popular as a name or nickname of conjurers. There have been conjectures that the expression is a parody of the Latin Hoc est corpus meum This is my body, the words of consecration in the Mass but this is impossible to prove.
survived in Cornwall right down to the th century. At that time, a key part of the local livelihood came from the seasonal catch of pilchards, which migrated past the coast in great shoals. To be sure of not missing their arrival, fishermen posted lookouts on the cliffs, who would sound horns to warn the waiting fishermen below. These lookouts were called
An allusion to the death of John the Baptist, who was beheaded on the orders of Herod. The daughter of Herodias, whose marriage John criticised, danced before Herod to such pleasing effect that he offered her whatever she asked for; prompted by her mother she asked for Johns head, which was duly delivered to her on a dish. The story is in
…Aradioham, on the other hand, seems to have become so called from being anamateur.
In its original formulation by the American philosopher and poet Ralph Waldo Emerson in
three successes by a person or team, usually in a sporting contest
Also used of a headlong ll; literally, in a somersault. It is a curious expression as
since the s. It travelled to the UK a little later, and has always been felt to be something of an Americanism. It is now going out of shion, even when shortened to
could still be used at the time for hold out, present, some rather incongruous uses, to the modern ear, can be found, such as Burnss In plain braid Scots hold forth a plain braid story
, now a person employed to carry out an unpleasant assignment requiring ruthlessness, was a pioneer serving with an American military unit. He was so called because he used a hatchet in his work, which was to march at or near the front of a body of troops to clear the way for them and afterwards to dig trenches, etc. The term was later applied to a hired assassin, often Chinese, in the lawless early history of California; from this emerged its present milder, though related, sense. A
was not a legal formula but a common expression summarising a much longer and more detailed sentence delivered by a judge. It is not clear whether
Ham isan abbreviation of the American hamtter, an ineffective actor . The idea may have been that hamt was a poor substitute for good lean ham, so a hamtter was by definition secondrate. An alternative explanation is that th century blackce comedians, generally among the least distinguished of theatrical performers, used hamt on their ces as a base for their burntcork makeup and as a removal cream, and that this gave them their derogatory name.
, an old word for bowl, cup or platter, now exists only in this con.
originally described the expression of someone considered fit to hang, like a dog, for his crimes, but has weakened to mean little more than shameced.
The scriptural origin is an injunction to do good to ones enemies to make them feel embarrassment or contrition If thine enemy be hungry, give him bread to eat; and if he be thirsty, give him water to drink For thou shalt heap coals of fire upon his head, and the Lord shall reward thee
refers to the conveyance to execution or to the removal of viscera draw is an old word for disembowel probably the latter, judging from its position in the expression.
is so much a set phrase that no other of
variously and persistently troublesome or evil
, III, Heaven has no rage like love to hatred turned, / Nor Hell a fury like a woman scorned.
In cricket a ball that is hit over the boundary without touching the ground scores six exceptional enough for the bowler of such a ball to feel a sense of ilure. A person who is said to have been
A quotation from the words of the prophet Isaiah about people who say Stand by thyself, come not near to me; for I am holier than thou. These are a smoke in my nose …
is used of any multiceted problem or wickedness that presents fresh difficulties as soon as one is solved.
, the word is still in use for a horse of this kind. By the th century, a hackney had also become a horse available for hire this enabled the word to become a metaphor for a person hired to do lowgrade work. This contemptuous sense is found, again abbreviated to
is used in its vague poetic sense of something distant and beautiful that guides human destiny, while
An allusion to an old belief that the burnt hair of a dog would act as an antidote to the bite of a mad dog if it was placed on the wound. This belief was in accordance with an older Roman one that like is cured by like, expressed in Latin as
…The wordhueis from the first part of the AngloNorman French legal phrasehu e cri. This came from the Old Frenchhufor an outcry, in turn fromhuer, to shout. It seems thathuecould mean any cry, or even the sound of a horn or trumpet the phrasehu e crihad a Latin equivalent,hutesium et clamor, with horn and with voice.
Normally used of money or overhauling someone. This was originally hand over hand, a nautical expression applied to the speedy hauling in or descent of a rope by using alternate hands, rather than by the slower method of using both hands together.
, remained in widespread use in Protestant churches and chapels in Britain until the middle of the th century, with the result that
The first recorded use of this expression dates from in a book by Mary Robinson,
have something disagreeable to settle with someone
This is an old expression, dating from at least the th century, which uses an , going back to biblical times, of the scales which can be turned by the least weight being added to either pan. It would have been a miliar visual in the Middle Ages from the many paintings of the souls of the dead being weighed in judgement against the weight of a feather. Anyone who has ever used such an oldshioned pair of scales will know that two almost equal weights can oscillate for some time before they come down on one side or the other.
This term from the Greek meaning literally the many is used to mean the majority or the masses. It is rarely flattering. The hypercorrect will tell you that it should never be used in the form the hoi polloi since
was originally nautical and remained chiefly so until the midth century. It was natural for sailing ships passing at sea to hail each other, and a ship that announced it was from a certain port was said in nautical jargon to hail from it. The term gradually came to be transferred to people and their hometowns.
The modern meaning goes back to part of English common law in the centuries after the Norman Conquest. At that time, there was no organised police force and the job of fighting crime fell mostly on ordinary people. If someone robbed you, or you saw a murder or other crime of violence, it was up to you to raise the alarm, thehue and cry. Everyone in the neighbourhood was then obliged to drop what they were doing and help pursue and capture the criminal. If the criminal was caught with stolen goods, he was summarily convicted, while if he resisted arrest he could be killed.
People sentenced to be executed used to be drawn to the site behind a horse or cart. At first, they were dragged along the ground, but so many iled to survive that the custom grew up of drawing them on a hurdle or hide or in a cart. After being hanged, but while still alive, they were lowered to the ground and castrated; disembowelment and the burning of viscera were performed before their eyes. They were then decapitated and quartered, the resultant pieces being preserved for exhibition by being boiled and perhaps coated in pitch.
A misquotation from William Congreves tragedy
, , cited as good doctrine in the New Testament in
There may be an allusion to the story of the Pied Piper of Hamelin, who led away the towns children because he had not been paid for ridding the town of rats, but
In medieval times animals which had caused harm or death were put on trial and, if found guilty, sentenced to death. The practice was common throughout Europe. In Savoy, in eastern France, in , beetles were formally charged with the destruction of a vineyard and in Switzerland in the same century, it was claimed a cock had laid an egg and should therefore answer charges of sorcery. In an age when unhygienic conditions were widespread, it was only to be expected that dog bites would quite often prove tal, thus bringing about a charge of murder.
which gets its name from the French word for to rt is a primitive of bomb or grenade, used to blow open city gates. Explosives were, in those days, even more unreliable than today, and fuses were likely to ignite a device as soon as touched, so it would be no rare thing to have an engineer blown up
An Americanism from the boiling of cloth, especially the material for mens hats, to make it stiff and hard. The process became a popular metaphor for similar characteristics in human behaviour or attitudes.
A literal translation, found in early versions of the Bible e.g. Wyclifs see
is a homespun Americanism for securing a wagon to whatever draws it along. The whole expression meant hitching ones wagon i.e. life to someone elses star, i.e. aspiring to the admirable example set by that person, though it has now rather degenerated into a sense of throwing in ones lot with someone who is apparently successful.
Less natural is the way the phrase has come to refer to an unpleasant matter. This presumably happened under the influence of
, which carries the bait, is attached to the fishing
He kept his bed three days, and hopped the twig on the fourth. At first, it meant to go away suddenly, for example to avoid creditors, and it is from this that the figurative sense arises. It is connected also with
From the effort and energy needed by a blacksmith holding a piece of hot iron in place with tongs while hammering to on the anvil. The smith has to act quickly to
Thomas or Tobias Hobson was a Cambridge carrier who hired out horses but compelled customers either to take the horse next in line or to go without. Because he insisted on this strict rotation, everyone was treated alike and no horse was overworked. No doubt, he was known to generations of Cambridge undergraduates and their slang was responsible for broadcasting his name and scrupulousness.
and announced, at the beginning of the performance, that they hoped the audience would forgive the omission of the character of the prince.
is the weight that keeps the hook beneath the suce. A fish that swallows all three shows unusual, even improbable, greed.
uniquely prized object of search or quest; high ideal
From the torture of suspected heretics in the Middle Ages. They were literally hauled over a bed of burning coals, being pronounced innocent if they survived and guilty if they did not.
came to be used for delivering a sermon or bearing witness to the Word of God. Since people who are sermonising tend to speak both at length and somewhat obsessively, it is easy to see how the modern senses of
difficulties or by analogy with the earlier phrase have a crow to pluck have a ult to find.
written by the American John Howard Payne who never had a home in his life with six musical numbers composed by Sir Henry Bishop , a noted homewrecker. The words do not actually occur in the body of the song, though home, sweet sweet home does.
for playing truant, which is still heard in places. In the early part of the th century, the expression was modified into
a room of which the is jealously guarded or whose occupant is regarded with awe
is to make difficulties for oneself or do something one is later going to be sorry for.
, but not in the Authorised Version, of a Hebrew term for the innermost apartment of the Jewish Temple where the Ark of the Covenant was kept, only to be opened by the High Priest on one day a year, the Day of Atonement Yom Kippur.
, though the expression has come to have a wider application.
the usual term in the USA is the part of a racecourse, usually straight, leading up to the finish. By the middle of the th century the expression was being used for the final part of an enterprise or journey, often with implication that there is not much left to be done. Thus, an American news wrote in , Already we see the slave States … on the homestretch to become free.
, meaning to joke. A possible link with Australia and New Zealand is the word
In Old English a hackney was an ordinary horse i.e. not a thoroughbred suile for general use, especially for riding by ladies; the name may have come from Hackney in London, where horses used to be raised. Shortened to
was Christs cup or plate at the Last Supper. It was then used by Joseph of Arimathea to catch some of Christs blood at the Crucifixion and was brought by Joseph to North Wales, where it disappeared. Manifesting itself from time to time to a chosen few, the Grail became the object of sacred quest by the Knights of the Round Table, the three purest of whom finally received it from Christs hands at the castle of Corbenic, from where they carried it to Sarras.
A gunnery term, used of a gun that was slow to discharge because its spark took longer than usual to reach the gunpowder charge through its vent.
was, in its early appearances, always used in connection with dancing, not with any less orthodox use of music.
Originally a nautical command for the tiller to be put as r as possible to windward, i.e. so as to turn the bows away from the wind. This was done under the stress of weather, which gave the term its metaphorical sense of stress of a different kind.
in which the central character is the prince of Denmark, namely Hamlet himself. It was Wordsworth who first noted, in a letter of , the story of a company of strolling players who advertised a performance of
Popularly believed to be the words semaphored by General Sherman to General Corse from the top of Kennesaw Mountain, near Atlanta, Georgia, during the Battle of Allatoona in the American Civil War. The expression owes its currency at least in Britain to the use made of this mous historical incident in a poem or hymn by Philip Bliss about spiritual assistance in a time of difficulty Hold the fort, for I am coming, / Jesus signals still.
Paying the piper is an old figure of speech for bearing the cost the idea was that of paying a musician to play for dancing, the pipe being either a sort of recorder, or any of the forerunners of modern woodwind instruments, or the bagpipes. The second part of the expression, calling [choosing] the tune, is a lateVictorian addition.
is of course the normal posture of the body. It is a corruption of the earlier and more intelligible heels over head upside down, perhaps as a result of confusion with the proverbial over head and ears completely immersed which is now usually expressed as up to the ears.
, jocularly secularised, entered everyday vocabulary.
Applied to a driver who ils to stop after an accident or to a criminal who acts swiftly and flees. The term is from baseball, describing a manoeuvre when a baserunner starts to run as the pitcher throws and the batter attempts a hit.
ruthless attack on a persons reputation, reform of an organisation, etc. is from the same source.
made a victim of ones own malicious intentions or actions
for a mischievous youth, once common in Worcestershire and Warwickshire and closely related to
Far more likely is the suggestion that it comes from an English dialect word
is an obsolete word for both a fixed measure gallons and about , cubic inches and for the solid container of pottery or wood used to measure it. A candle or other light placed under a bushel would of course be invisible. The whole phrase is an allusion to Christs Sermon on the Mount Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house
This goes back to the early s and comes from tailoring. In its early sense, it meant to prepare or plan an activity, as a tailor would cut and lay out all his cloth before turning it into a garment. It then went through a period of meaning to have someone else cut your work out for you or give you something to do, much as a tailors apprentice might do. The expressions first appearance in its current sense of having perhaps more than one can handle is in Charles Dickens
, a request to somebody to depart without delay, and with the British slang phrase
, and being replaced by the even more intrusive Take care or even worse Take care, now. The excessively twee Missing you already is rarely used without irony.
were bad fortune. The origin appears to be Psalm . The lines are llen unto me in pleasant places; yea, I have a goodly heritage, apparently referring to lines marking out the boundaries of ones land and home. Attempts to explain
, for cold iron cannot readily be shaped. He may also have
III, , lines For tis the sport to have the engineer/Hoist with his own petard. An engineer in this con is the equivalent of a sapper in the modern army, and a
, . This is part of an encouragement to Christs followers to demonstrate their ith, though in common use the expression now has no spiritual significance.
This expression seems to have originated in Australia or New Zealand and dates from around . It has been suggested that it comes from the name of the Australian boxer Larry Foley , though why he was particularly happy no one seems to know. Perhaps he won a lot of contests? He would certainly be well remembered in Australia, as he was one of those who originated gloved boxing rather than bareknuckle fighting in that country. However, the expressions links with New Zealand make the connection with Foley unlikely.
Hark, an oldshioned word for listen, was used in hunting cries to call attention to something or to give encouragement.
already means the, and to use both shows your ignorance. In ct, this is a thcentury worry, the hoi polloi being standard in earlier uses. John Dryden is the first recorded user of the term in English, and he set the pattern and the tone for its use when he wrote, If by the people you understand the multitude, the hoi polloi, tis no matter what they think; they are sometimes in the right, sometimes in the wrong their judgement is a mere lottery
, . Here coals of fire, an old way of saying burning coals, is a metaphor of extreme discomfort. To
look after things or keep them running in the absence of the person normally responsible
exists any longer, and even the origin of the word is lost. It first appeared in the th century, when you could simply be in dudgeon when angry and resentful, and even in Scott could write about deep dudgeon, but it has been fixed at
In its full form the proverb is One half of the world does not know how the other half lives. Its earliest appearance in English is dated to but it is found in French in Rabelais
Not a boy playing in the sand but one peddling it, often from panniers slung from a donkey, to the owners of shops and taverns where a fresh layer was spread on the floor every day to absorb the mud from customers boots. Why a sandboy should be proverbially jolly is not clear. In Dickens
A nautical term denoting the condition of a ship stranded on a reef, rock, etc., partly half submerged and with the seas breaking over it. The ships helplessness is compared to that of a drunken person equally unable to steer a course.
. The is of having an overkeen helper who cuts your cloth at such a rate one has difficulty keeping up.
mild trickery; something improper; minor ual impropriety
developed. This had happened by the th century, but since
there is an inn called The Jolly Sandboys with a sign representing three sandboys increasing their jollity. This indicates that jolly as a sandboy was miliar enough to have an inn named from it, bit if sandboys jollity was really inspired by their proverbial intake of alcohol it is hard to believe that an innsign would celebrate the ct, unless the sandboys were actually men. Probably they were just happy because what they sold for money cost them very little or nothing. It has been estimated that they could make over a morning, and if they were also given the job of clearing out the old sand before laying the new their happiness might well have been enhanced by the possibility of finding dropped valuables in it.
Of biblical origin, though with a slightly different meaning he which converteth the sinner from the error of his way shall save a soul from death, and shall hide a multitude of sins James, .
. In Greek mythology, this bird was bled to breed at the time of the winter solstice December , the shortest day of the year, in a nest floating on the sea, which it was able to charm into calmness so that its eggs could be safely hatched. A period of calm usually lasting about a fortnight before and after the winter solstice was therefore known as the
breezily and heartily friendly and informal from the first moment of meeting sometimes excessively so
Literary and jocular, originally biblical Now therefore ye are cursed, and there shall none of you be freed from being bondmen, and hewers of wood and drawers of water for the house of my God were the words of Joshua cursing the Gibeonites during his conquest of Canaan
This is made up of two obsolete greetings, Hail, fellow and Well met. In the first,
The artist William Heath Robinson is chiefly remembered for cartoons depicting bizarre, ingenious and comic pieces of mechanical engineering, sometimes intended to perform tasks that could be readily performed by hand, to satirise th century preoccupations with technological gadgetry. His name is still applied to any unmiliar contraption of homemade appearance.
small alcoholic drink taken as an antidote to a hangove
Originally simply a bone to pick, i.e. pick clean. It meant something to occupy one, such as a problem, as a bone does a dog. The addition of have … with someone was a later natural development.
, a street rowdy or young urban hooligan, recorded in both those countries from the s. The word may well have come from the English dialect
can readily be traced back to the idea of a hired horse worn out by overwork.
in . More recently, it gained currency as the title of a book by Jacob Riis. It is now most commonly used as a jocular or envious comment on the life of the wealthy, though originally the
Properly with, not by, if one is to be true to the original in
as a nautical term for inflexible or frozen ropes are weakened by lack of evidence that seamen used lines in this sense.
was one such cry, given to the hounds to return along their course to find a lost scent.
The phrase, of Scottish origin, goes back to around the turn of the th century and refers to pranks and frolics indulged in at drinking parties. It comes from a game of the same name. This game was one of forfeits and involved the throwing of dice to see whom amongst the assembled company should drink a large bowl of liquor and who should then pay for it.
in the sense of lowgrade journalist. The modern meanings of
In its sense of call from a distance to attract attention,
This poem or hymn was introduced to the British public by the wellknown American evangelists Moody and Sankey during their campaign in . Their popular hymnbook,
was an enormous nineheaded serpent in Greek mythology. It lived in a marsh in the Peloponnese, ravaging herds and crops and killing people with the poison of its breath. One of the labours of Hercules was to destroy it; when Hercules attempted to do so he found that if he cut off one head two grew in its place, but he finally succeeded with the help of redhot brands. In modern ry, the
used also to be an adjective or adverb expressing close friendship. The second greeting meant no more than the modern Good to see you and came to be tacked on to the adjective
is the Greek, and in English literature a poetic word, for a
This has actually been a common phrase since the s, but became ubiquitous in the s. For some reason it irritates a lot of people, probably because they feel it is intrusive or insincere although few people have the same reaction to How do you do?, equally impertinent if taken literally. It first became popular in the USA when in the s the language of CB radio as used by longdistance lorry drivers became very shionable. They had been using
Specifically, in cricket, the dismissal of three batsmen with three successive balls from the same bowler, a rare feat formerly rewarded either by the gift of a hat from the bowlers club or bypassing a hat roundamong spectators for a collection of money. The term passed from cricket to other sports and also into nonsporting vocabulary but retained its sense of triple success.
The title of an immensely popular song taken from the melodrama