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Author ot A Dictionary of Universal Biography, A Dictionary of the Bible, 
A Dictionary of Artists and Art Terms, etc. 




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in 2007 with funding from 

IVIicrosoft Corporation 

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It is somewhat difficult, perhaps impossible, to define exactly the scope 
of the present volume. The title, " A Dictionary of Phrases," gives the 
key to its intention, but does not unlock the whole of its contents. It 
may be described as a book about terms and phrases that have been 
incorporated in the English language. An endeavour has been made to 
cover the whole field of phrases, but so far as the terms, for the most part 
single words, are concerned, as far as possible only those have been included 
which owe their existence not so much to a process of natural development, 
a course to which all words and phrases owe their present form, but in 
response to some sudden demand to meet some sudden emergency. For 
instance, crises in British history, such as wars, have brought many words 
directly into the language — maffick, camouflage, poilu, and others. 
Inventions and discoveries have brought yet others, e.g.. Lyddite, Bessemer 
steel, CcBsarean operation. Historical personages, and heroes and villains 
of romance, have formed yet another means of enriching the language. 
From this source come such words as to hector, a Solomon, a Stiggins. 
Words of this character have come direct into the language and are still 
practically unchanged. The process of their development has hardly 
yet commenced. As part of a hving language they will undergo changes 
so as ultimately perhaps, in certain cases, to be barely recognizable. 
And centuries hence, when some successor in the same field takes up his 
pen to prepare another " Dictionary of Phrases," he may find in the 
present work a guide to the first stages of many words that might other- 
wise prove to be insoluble puzzles. The words of this class that are to 
be found in the following pages are in every case derived from proper 
names. In dealing with material of this description there is a natural 
tendency to include too many words, to take, for instance, a classical 
name, to place an indefinite article before it and then introduce it as the 
description of a class. This temptation has, however, been evident to 
the writer throughout, and he has steadfastly endeavoured to avoid it, 
rejecting all such words for the use of which he has been unable to find 
good authority. 

A kindred class of phrases is that formed by the appropriation of the 
name of a classical hero, of a city, etc., to some modem successor. Such 
are the Briareus of Languages, the Carthage of the North, the Russian 
Byron. Here again the temptation to insert attributions has been great, 
but it has been resisted. An independent authority has always been 
found before any such descriptive title has been admitted to the volume. 
Descriptions of this character form but a part of a larger class which may 
be entitled nicknames, although they are not altogether nicknames in 
the narrow sense, and in almost every instance there is a good historical 
reason for attaching the appellation to the person or place concerned. In 


many instances the reason is self-evident, e.g., The Brighton of Scotland, 
and explanation is unnecessary. Where, however, it is thought that an 
explanation is called for it is given. 

A third class of words that have been included in this work are those 
which are usually to be found in slang dictionaries. They consist of 
slang words and colloquialisms that have degenerated, and references are 
generally given to the former position of the words in question in Uterary 
EngUsh. Side by side with these are to be found other words, which 
have ascended in the scale, and although of low, vulgar origin, are now 
received in the best social circles. In treating of words belonging to this 
third class there may sometimes have been some anticipation, words having 
been included which have not yet obtained admission to the highest circles, 
but which one is justified in expecting will shortly secure that privilege. 
An endeavour has, in fact, been made to exclude ordinary slang words 
and phrases, but so rapid has been the development of the English 
language, especially during the recent war, in the course of which it was 
enriched but not always embellished by new phrases and words, that it 
has at times proved very difficult to decide. However, those words and 
phrases of which there is a promise of permanency have been included, 
but in deciding the author has had to rely on instinct rather than on 

Many foreign words and phrases that have become incorporated in the 
EngUsh language without change also find their places in the following 

A large proportion of the following items consists not of words but of 
phrases. Many of them belong to one or another of the classes that have 
already been mentioned. But phrases give one a wider opportunity than 
do words. The number of phrases in current use in the English language 
that are in fact metaphors, although the user seldom stops to notice the 
fact, is legion. Nearly all words and phrases are, of course, in their 
ultimate origin metaphors, but in most cases the metaphor has been 
concealed by the deposits of ages. However, there are still a very large 
number of phrases in which the metaphor is patent to anyone who stops 
for a moment to look for it. One of the purposes of the present volume 
is to collect for the curious these metaphorical phrases and to throw a 
little hght on their origins and on their growth. Here one comes closely 
into contact with proverbs. But proverbs have not been included qua 
proverbs. A dictionary of proverbs deserves a volume to itself. Only 
when a proverb has given rise to a word or phrase which is in fact a crystal 
of the proverb has attention been given to it. 

In many instances the earliest known — or an early — use of the phrase is 
mentioned — in a few instances a parallel phrase in a foreign language. 
References are also given to the origin of foreign phrases that are now 
part of the English language. 

The present volume, although it contains some fourteen thousand 
entries, is necessarily imperfect, for no work of this description can well 
be complete. Even if an author with superhuman self-confidence is 
satisfied with his work, there are sure to be hosts of critics to point out 
deficiencies, and it is seldom that they are not justified. There is, there- 


fore, no desire to put forward a claim to exhaustiveness, and the author 
will welcome suggestions for additional entries for incorporation in a second 
edition of the work, if the demand for the present one justifies it. In 
preparing the list of words and phrases with which he has dealt, he has 
had to rely mainly on the notes he has made in the course of his reading, 
but the nucleus of the list, and a very large nucleus, he owes to Mr. 
William Swan Stallybrass, who very generously placed unreservedly at 
his disposal his own vast collection of words and phrases made in the 
course of cathoUc reading during a long period of years, together with 
scores of thousands of extracts from writers from the Homeric age to 
the present time. In fact, if it had not been for Mr. Stallybrass, from 
whom the suggestion for the book first came and whose wide knowledge 
and critical advice were always at the disposal of the author, it is very 
doubtful whether the book would ever have been brought into being. 

Finally, it is desired to point out that this book, although of the nature 
of a dictionary, is not intended to be used merely as a dictionary. If it is 
so used it will fail of its full purpose. It is hopsd that it will be consulted 
whenever enhghtenment is desired on any word or phrase that is proper 
to its scope. It is hoped also that when the reader turns to it for reference 
he will find it sufficiently interesting to induce him to turn from entry 
to entry and browse on it before he closes the book and returns to that 
which first sent him to it. Only in such a case will the book have justified 
the work that has been put into it. 

A. M. H. 


Bartlett (J.). Familiar Quotations. 9th edition. 1898. 

Bent (S. A.). Familiar Short Sayings of Great Men. New edition. 1887. 

BoRCHARDT (W.). Die Sprichw6rtlichen Redensarten im deutschen 
Volksmunde. 5th edition. By G. Wustmann. Leipzig. 1895. 

Brewer (E. C). Dictionary of Phrase and Fable. New edition, n.d. 

The Reader's Handbook. New edition. 1898. 

BiJCHMANN (G.). Geflugelte Worte. i6th edition. By W. Robert- 
tomow. Berlin. 1889. 

Century Cyclopaedia of Names, edited by B. E. Smith. 1894. 

Dawson (L. H.). Historical Allusions. 1907. 

Dixon (J. M.). Dictionary of Idiomatic English Phrases. 1912. 

Edwards (E.). Words, Facts and Phrases. 1882. 

Encyclopaedia Britannica. 9th and loth editions. 1875-1903. 

Encyclopaedic Dictionary. 

Farmer (J. S.). Americanisms — Old and New. 1889. 

and Henley (W. E.). Slang and its Analogues, Past and Present. 

7 vols. 1 890-1904. 

Dictionary of Slang and Colloquial English. (The above abridged). 

Fennell (C. a. M.) Stanford Dictionary of Anglicized Words and Phrases. 
Cambridge. 1892. 

Foster (J). A Shakespeare Word-book, n.d. (1908). 

Fournier (E.). L'Esprit des Autres Recueilli. Paris. 1879. 

Gentleman's Magazine (The). 1 731-1873. 

Halliwell (J. O.). Dictionary of Archaic and Provincial Words. 6th 
edition. 1904. 

Harbottle (T. B.). Dictionary of Historical Allusions. 1904. 

Heywood (John). Proverbs and Epigrams (1562). Spenser Society. 

Hotten. (Pub.) Slang Dictionary (1873;. New edition, n.d. (1891). 

Jamieson (J.). Etymological Dictionary of Scottish. 2 vols.; Supple- 
ment, 2 vols. :^inburgh. 1808-25. 

Johnson (T. H.). Phrases and Names. 

Jones (H. P.). New Dictionary of Foreign Phrases. New edition. 1902. 

Latham (E.). Dictionary of Names, Nicknames and Surnames. _ I904- 

Famous Sayings and Their Authors. 1904. 

Lean (V. S.). Collectanea. 4 vols, in 5. 1902-4. 
Lempriere (J.). A Classical Dictionary. New edition. 1919. 


Mackay (C). Glossary of Obscure Words and Phrases. 1887. 

Murray (Sir J. H.), etc. New English Dictionary on Historical Principles. 
Oxford. 1888 sqq. 

Narbs (R.). Glossary of Words, Phrases, Names and Allusions. New 

edition. By J. O. Halliwell and Thomas Wright. 1905. 
Palmer (A. Smyth). Folk-Etymology : A Dictionary. 1882. 

Rozan (C). Petites Ignorances de la Conversation, nth edition. 
Paris. 1887. 

Petites Ignorances Historiques et Littdraires. Paris. 1888. 

Skbat (W. W.). Etymological Dictionary of the English Language, 
Oxford. 1882. 

Smith (H. P.). Glossary of Terms and Phrases. 1883. 

Spence (Lewis). Encyclopaedia of Occultism. 1920. 

Svartengren (J. H.). Intensifying Similes in English. 

Trench (R. C). A Select Glossary of English Words used formerly is 
senses different from their present. New edition. 

Walsh (W. S.). Handy Book of Literary Curiosities. 1894. 

Ware (J. R.). Passing English of the Victorian Era. 1909. 

Weatherby (C). Routledge's New Dictionary of the English Language. 

Whbelbr (W. a.). Familiar Allusions. 1882. 































C. {circa) 







Cf. (confer) 












= Conspirator 

= Authorized Version 

Con temp. 

= Contemptuously 

= Abbreviation 


= Contraction 

= According 


= Corintnians 

= Admiral 


= Corruption 

= Administrative 


= Count 

= Adverb 


= Committee 

= African 


= Died 

= Agricultural 


= Democratic 

= Alexander 


= Department 

= Ambassador 


= Derivation ; derived 

= American 


= Dialect 

= Ancient ; anciently 


= Diminutive 



= District ; distinguished 

= Arabian; Arabic 


= Divine 

= Architecture 

e.g. (exempt 

= Association 


= For example 

= Astrological 


= Ecclesiastical 

= Astronomical 


= Economic ; Economist 

= August ; Augustus 


= Edward 

= Austrian 


= Elizabeth; Elizabethan 

= Australian 


= Emperor 

= Before Christ 


= England ; English 

= Battalion 


= Equivalent 

= Because 


= Especially 

= Belgian 


= Established 

= Biblical 

Etseq. [Et 

= Botanist 

sequent es) 

=And following 

= British 


= European 

= About 


= Examination 

= Cambridge 


= Exchange 

= Canadian 


= Favourite 

= Capital 


= Figuratively 

= Cardinal 


= Flourished 

= Catholic 


= Flemish 

= Century; Central 


= Founder 

= Compare 


== Foreign 

= Church 


= Formerly 

= Charles 


= French 

= Chemist; chemistry 


= Frederick 

= Chinese 


= General 

= Christian 


= George 

= Classical 


= German 

= College 


= Governor 

= Colloquialism; colloquial; 


= Government 



= Greek 

= Combination 


= Hebrew 

= Congress 


= Hindustani 

= Consequently 


= Historian 

= Conservative 


= House 



= Henry 


= Political; Politician 

i.e. (id est) 

= That is 


= Popular 


= Imperial 


= Portuguese 


= Individual 


= Possibly 


= Indian 


= President 


= Inhabitant 


= Presbyterian 


= Inventor 


= Previous ; previously 


= Italian 


= Probably 


= Japanese 


= Protestant 


= James 


= Province; proverb 


= Joseph 

q.v. {quod 


= Journalist 


= which see 


= King 


= Roman Catholic 


= Language 

R.C. Ch. 

= Roman Catholic Church 


= Latin 


= Radical 


= Liberal 


= Regiment 


= Lieutenant 


= Religious 


= Literally 


= Republic; Republican 


= Middle English 


= Revolution 


= Marquis 

Re vol. 

= Revolutionary 


= Marshal 


= Richard 


= Mathematician 


= Robert 


= Matthew 


= Roman 


= Medieval 


= Russian 


= Metaphorically 


= Samuel 


= Metropolitan 


= Scandinavian 


= Military 


= Scottish 


= Minister 


= Secretary 


= Mohammedan 


= Society 


= Mythology 


= Spanish 


= New Testament 

Sqq. {se- 


= Nautical 


= And following 


= Nonconformist 


= Subsequently 


= Old-English 


= Swedish 


= Origin ally; origin 


= Trinity College, Dublin 


= 01d Testament 


= Technical 


= Oxford 


= Theologian ; theology 


= Parliament 


= Thomas 


= Particular ; particularly 


= Translation ; translator 


= Pertaining 


= United States 


= Persian 


= University 


= Philosopher ; philosophy 


= William 



Al : first class. From the symbol 
denoting ships in the best condition 
in Lloyds' Registry of Shipping. 
A denotes the quality of the vessel, 
1 that of its stores. Introduced into 
literature by Capt. Marryat in Peter 
Simple (1834). 

a fortiori (Lat.) : with a stronger reason. 
[Whitaker, Disput. (1588)] 

d la {Fr.) : in the manner of. Employed 
by Thomas Gray 171 6-71 in his 
letters, Ixiii. 

& la bonne heme {Fr., at the good hour) : 
luckily. [Horace Walpole, Letters, p. 19 

ik la mode {Fr., in the manner) : fashion- 
ably. [Nashe, The Unfortunate 
Traveller (1594)] 

& la mort {Fr.) : to the death. [Shakes- 
peare, I Henry VI, III, ii ; Wyrley, 
Armorie (1592)] 

& la vol6e {Fr., at the flight) : at random, 
inconsiderately. [Sir Thomas Browne, 
Religio Medici. Pt. II (1643)] 

& outianee (-Fr., to a finish) : to the 

^ bitter end. Originally applied to a 

•^ contest between two antagonists, 

both determined to conquer or die. 

[Holland, Translation of Suetonius 


a posteriori {Lat., from the latter) : from 
effect to cause. [Adams, Diary 

a priori {Lat., from the former) : of an 
argument from that which went before; 
from the antecedent. [P. Bayne, 
Commentary on Ephesians (161 8)] 

ik propos {Fr., to the purpose) : 
[Dryden, Mock Astrologer, V (1669)] 

a vinculo matrimonii {Lat., from the 
bond of matrimony) : a complete 
divorce. [Coke, Littleton (1628)] 

Aaron's beard : popular name of several 
plants, especially Great St. John's 

Aaron's rod : popular name of the Golden 
Rod ; also of Great Mullein. 

Aaron's serpent. An : that which is 
powerful enough to overcome and 
neutraUse all rivals. [Exodus, vii, 


A.B., An : an able-bodied seaman, the 

lowest rank but one in the Royal 

Ab extra {Lat.) : from without. [Thomas 

Goodwin, Works (1650)] 
Ab ovo {Lat. , from the egg) : from the 

beginning. Eggs formed the first 

dish at a Roman repast. [Sidney, 

Apologia for Poesie (1595)] 
Abaddon {Heb.) : the destroying angel ; 

hell. [Rev. ix, 11 ; Bunyan, Pilgrim's 

Progress (1678)] 
Abaton, As inaccessible as : the Abaton 

was the fortification erected by the 

Rhodians around the statue of Rliodes 

erected by Artemisia. 
Abbas Letitise : see Abb6 de Liesse. 
Abb6 de Liesse {Fr.) : the Abbot of 

Jollity, Abbot of Misrule {q.v.) . 
Abbethdin: a Lord Chancellor. Properly 

a principal judge in a Jewish court of 

law. [Dryden, Absalom and Achi- 

tophel, Pt. I, ii, 188-91 (1681)] 
Abbey Laird : an insolvent debtor. 

After the Abbey of Holyrood, the 

precincts of which were a sanctuary 

for insolvent debtors. 
Abbey Lubber: a lazy monk, or other idler. 

In general use after the Reformation. 
Abbot of Misrule, Lord of Misrule : the 

Master of the Ceremonies at the 

Christmas celebrations. See also 

Abbot of Unreason ; Abbe de Liesse. 
Abbot of Unreason : in Scotland, Master 

of the mediaeval Christmas revels. 
ABC book : see Absey book. 
A B C-darian : see Abecedarian. 
ABC nations : originally Argentina, 

Brazil, and Chile. Subsequently 

extended to the Latin States of South 

A B C of . .The : the elementary principle 

or rudiments of . .[Dekker, The Gull's 

Horn Book, ch. 6 (1609)] 
ABC Process, The : the manufacture 

of manure from alum, blood and clay, 

its principal ingredients. 
Abdael : George Monk, 3rd Duke of 

Albemarle. So called by Dryden in 

Absalom and Achitophel, after Abdiel 
. in Milton's Paradise Lost, Bk. V (1665) . 



Abderitan : foolish. From Abdera in 
Thrace, proverbial for the stupidity 
of its inhabitants. 

Abderitan laughter : ceaseless, scoffing 
laughter. From Democritos of 
Abdera, 'the Laughing Philosopher.' 
An Abderite, a scoffer. 

Abdnl the Damned: Abdul Hamidll 
(1842-1918), Sultan of Turkey. So- 
called by Dr. Joseph Parker, on account 
of the Armenian atrocities perpetrated 
during his reign. 

Abecedarian : (i) a member of an 
Anabaptist sect of the i6th cent., 
which taught that believers could 
learn the Bible without knowing how 
to read ; (2) one engaged in learning 
or teaching the alphabet. 

Abfaorrers : the predecessors of the 
Tories and Conservatives in Enghsh 
politics, who in 1G80 signed addresses 
abhorring proposals to limit the power 
of the king. 

Abigail, An : a lady's maid. After the 
wife of Nabal (I Sam. xxv). Abigail is 
' the waiting gentlewoman ' in Beau- 
mont and Fletcher, The Scornful 
Lady (1616). 

Abingdon Law : ' Hang a man first and 
try him afterwards ' — the policy of 
Major Brown of Abingdon, an officer 
in the Parliamentary Army in the 
English Civil War. Or, perhaps, from 
the execution without trial of the 
Irish prisoners taken by the Earl of 
Essex and Waller during the defence 
of Abingdon (1644-5). 

Aboard of . . To fall : to meet and abuse. 
A nautical metaphor. 

Abolitionist, An : an advocate of the 
abolition of slavery in the U.S. Still 
earlier the term was applied in Great 
Britain to the advocates of the 
abolition of slavery. 

Abomination of Desolation, An : any 
thing very hateful or damaging ; 
properly, the Roman standard {Mai. 
xxiv, 15), which, being set up in the 
Holy of Holies, was an abomination and 
brought destruction or desolation. 

Abonde, Dame : the French Santa 
Claus iq.v.). 

Aborigines : the earliest known inhabi- 
tants of a land, originally applied to a 
Central ItaUan tribe settled in Italy 
before the Roman period. From the 
Lat. ab origine (from the beginning). 

Above-board : straightforward, without 
concealment. Originally a gaming 
term, meaning above the table, afiord- 


ing no opportunity for the changing of 
cards or other form of cheating. 
Above par : a commercial term, used to 
indicate value in excess of the nominal 
value. Also used figuratively. 

Abracadabra : meaningless gibberish ; a 
magical charm used by the Gnostic 
sect of Basilides. The charm took the 
form of a triangle composed of the 
word repeated eleven times but on 
every occasion with the loss of one 
letter, so that on the last occasion it 
appeared as A only. Origin unknown ; 
first used in 2nd cent, by Q. Severus 
Sammonicus. A suggested derivation 
is from the Heb. ab (father) ben (son) 
and ruach akodesh (holy spirit). 

Abraham man ; Abram man. An : a 
wandering beggar, one of a class that 
came into existence after the dissolu- 
tion of the Monasteries ; esp. a lunatic 
beggar from Bethlehem (Bedlam) 
Hospital, whose wards were formerly 
named after different Saints. The in- 
mates of the Abraham ward were 
allowed to go out to beg in the streets 
on certain days. 

Abraham Newland, An : a Bank of 
England note. After the cashier 
whose signature was appended to ehe 
notes at the beginning of 19th c)nt. 

Abraham (Abram), To sham : (i to 
pretend, for begging purposes, to be 
insane {see Abraham man) ; (2) toforge 
a bank-note {see Abraham Newland). 

Abrahamic Covenant, The: (i) the 
covenant entered into by God with 
Abraham, whereby the latter was to 
become the ancestor of a great nation 
and ultimately of the Messiah ; (2) 
the rite of circumcision, whereby 
Abraham's descendants dedicated 
themselves to the service of God. 

Abraham's Bosom : the repose of the 
blessed after death {Luke xvi, 22). 
From the ancient practice of resting 
on the bosom of a friend. 

Abraham's Eye, An : a charm used to 
render a thief who refuses to confess 
his crime blind. 

Abram-coloured : a corruption of auburn- 
coloured. [ShakesjJeare, Coriolanus.ll, 
iii (? 1607)] 

Abram man : see Abraham man. 

Abraxas Stones : gems used as amulets 
by the Basilides and engraved with 
the Abraxas, a magical word, probably a 
Gnostic title of God. Perhaps derived 
from the Greek letter-numerals which 
make up the symbolic number 365. 


Abroad, To be all : to have one's mind 
wandering from the subject. 

Absalom, Ai : an undutiful son. After 
Absalom the son of David (II Sam.). 
The Absalom in Dryden's satire 
Absalom and Achitophel (i 68 1-2) repre- 
sents James, Duke of Monmouth. 

Absentee Tax : a tax on absentee Irish 
landlords, imposed in the reign of 
Richard II and attempted to be reim- 
posed in 1773. 

Absenteeism : the practice, esp. on the 
part of a landlord, of living away from 
the source of one's income. Irish in 

Absent-minded Beggar, An : an English 
common soldier. From a poem of 
that title by Rudyard Kipling (1900).^ 

Absey book. An : an A B C book or 
elementary spelling-book. [Shakes- 
peare, King John, I, i (?I595)] 

Absolute, A Captain : a persi.stent and 
high-spirited lover. After the charac- 
ter in Sheridan, The Rivals {1775). 

Absolute Monarchy : government by 
the absolute will of the monarch. 
[Francis, Lord Bacon, Essays : Of 
Superstition (1624)] 

Absolute, A Sir Anthony : an obstinate, 
passionate yet generous old man. 
After a character in Sheridan, The 
Rivals (1775). 

Absanatulate, To : for a squatter 
suddenly to leave his holding. 

Abstainer, A Total : one who abstains 
entirely from alcoholic Uquor. Former- 
ly a Nazarite. 

Acacetus : one who does nothing badly ; 
a name borne by the god Mercury. 
From the Grk. a (not) and kakos (bad) . 

Academic Legion, An : an armed corps of 
students which participated in Euro- 
pean insurrections, esp. at Vienna in 

Academy : an educational institution ; a 
learned society. From the School of 
Philosophy founded by Plato in the 
Garden of Academus, near Athens. 

Academy, French, The : a French associ- 
ation of the 40 members (the ' Forty 
Immortals ') supposed to be the most 
illustrious living French men-of -letters. 
Formally established in 1635 by Card. 
Richelieu for controlling the French 
language and directing literary taste. 

Academy headache. An : a headache due 
to attention to picture and other 
similar exhibitions. Phrase coined, 
1885, with reference to the Royal 
Academy Exhibition. 


Acadia : an early French name for Nova 
Scotia. After the river Shubenacadic. 

Accessory after the Fact, An : one who 
shields or assists a criminal, knowing 
him to be guilty of the crime. [A 
Warning for Faire Women, II, 1. 1289 

Accessory before the Fact, An : one who 
is aware of the intention on the part of 
another to commit a crime, but does 
not disclose that intention. [A Warning 
for Faire Women, II, 1. 1289 (1599)] 

Accident of an Accident, An : high birth. 
First used by Lord Thurlow (1731- 
1806), Lord Chancellor, in a debate in 
tne House of Lords. 

Account of. To give a good : to punish 

Account, Of small : of httle consequence. 
[Lyly, Euphues (1579)] 

Account, To call to : to demand an ex- 
planation of. [Francis Bacon, Essays: 
Of Friendship (1625)] 

Account, To go to one's : to die. 

Account, To turn to : to make use of. 

Accusative, The : John Calvin (1509-64), 
the founder of Protestantism. So- 
called by his college companions from 
his habit of accusing error. 

Ace, To bate an : to hesitate ; to show 
reluctance. Properly, to give a com- 
petitor a slight advantage. An ace is 
the lowest numeral. The phrase is 
said to have originated at the court of 
Henry VIII, from the mouth of Bolton, 
one of his courtiers. [Wm. Haughton, 
Englishmen for My Money, II, ii (1597)] 

Ace of. Within an : On the point of. 
' Ace ' in the sense of a jot or tittle, a 
playing-card with a solitary pip. 

Aceldama : a field of slaughter. After 
the ' field of blood ' bought by Judas 
with the money derived from the 
betrayal of Jesus. 

Acephaiites : religious sects that acknow- 
ledged no worldly superiors. Grk., 
a (not, without) and kephale (a head). 

Acestes, The arrow of : Acestes, a 
Sicihan competitor in a contest, dis- 
charged his arrow with such rapidity 
that it caught fire. [Virgil, Mneid, V, 
525; Burton, Anatomy of Melancholy 

Acbaian prophet. The blind : Tiresias, the 
legendary bUnd prophet of Thebes. 

A Chan, An : a looter. After the bibhcal 
personage who was stoned to death for 
looting {Joshua, vii). 

Achates, A Fidus : a trusty friend. After 
Achates, jiEncas' faithful friend. 


[Virgil, Mneid, I, i88 ; Turner, 
Letter to Fox (c. 1587)] 

Acheron : the lower world. After a 
fabulous river in that region. 

Acheron, Food for : see Pabulum 

Acheron, The Pit of : see Acheron. 

Acherusia Palus {Lat., the Acherusian 
bog) : the lower world. After the 
name of several small lakes in Pontus 
which were supposed to be connected 
with Hades. 

Achilles, An : a splendid military hero. 
After the King of the Myrmidons in 
Thessaly, the central character of 
Homer's Iliad, and the Greek hero of 
the Trojan War. 

Achilles of England, The : (i) the Duke of 
Wellington (1769-1852) ; (2) John 
Talbot, ist Earl of Shrewsbury (1373- 

Achilles of Germany, The : Albert III, 

Elector of Brandenburg (1414-86). 
Achilles of Rome, The : Lucius Licinius 

Dentatus (d. 450 B.C.), Roman 

Tribune. Also called The Second 

Achilles of the West, The : Roland, the 
Paladin (8th cent.). 

Achilles, The heel of : a vulnerable spot. 
From the story of Achilles, who was 
held by the heel when dipped in the 
Styx to make him invulnerable, the 
heel being thus the one vulnerable 
spot in his body. 

Achilles, The Second : see Achilles of Rome. 

Achilles tendon. The : the tendon which 
connects the heel with the calf ; 
see Achilles, The heel of. 

Aching Almanac An : rheumatism. 
" Some men ('gainst raine) doe carry 
in their backs 
Prognosticating Aking Almanacks : 
Some by a painefull elbow, hip, or 

Will shrewdly guesse what wether's 
like to be." 
[John Taylor, Drinke and Welcome 

Acdiing void. An : sorrow caused by the 
recollection of a loss. [Cowper, Walk- 
ing with God"] 

Achitophel, An : a treacherous friend and 
adviser. After the man who seceded 
from David to Absalom. [II Sam.] 
Achitophel is also a character in 
Dryden's satire Absalom and Achito- 
phel (1 68 1 -2). 

Ack pirate. An : a pirate who follows his 
calling on inland waters. 


Acknowledge the com. To : to admit one- 
self beaten. From the story of an 
American countryman who, finding 
himself for the first time in New 
Orleans, was cheated at cards, losing, 
in addition to his money, two barges, 
one of corn the other of potatoes, which 
he had brought to sell in the town. 
While he was gambUng the barge of 
corn was accidentally sunk. When in 
the morning the creditor came to re- 
ceive his property, the debtor replied, 
' I acknowledge the corn ; but the 
potatoes you can't have, by thunder 1 ' 
Another suggested derivation is from 
a debate in the U.S. Congress in 
1828 between Andrew Stewart and 
Charles A. Wickliffe, which the latter 
concluded, ' I acknowledge the 

Acmonian Wood, The : a trysting-place 
for the practice of immorality. From 
the spot where Mars met Harmonia to 
become the father of the Amazons. 

AcQuaintance, A nodding : see Nodding 

Acre Fight : a duel between English and 
Scots on the Border, erroneously 
derived from the mistranslation of a 
mediaeval Lat. phrase in The Annals 
of Burton (1237). 

Acre, God's : a churchyard. ' Acre ' in 
the sense of enclosed land. 

Acre shot. An : a charge rated per acre. 

Acres and a cow. Three : a small agri- 
cultural holding ; facilities for the 
acquisition of which by agricultural 
labourers were made by Jesse Collings 
a part of the Radical Party's campaign 
previous to the General Election of 

AcropoUs, An : the fortified buildings in 
the centre of a Greek city, esp. the 
AcropoUs of Athens. 

Across lots : by a short cut. ' Lots ' 
means allotted or private property. 
The phrase was rendered famous by 
Brigham Young, the Mormon leader's 
threat, ' We'll send them (the Gentiles) 
to hell across lots.' 

Act of Faith : see Auto da F6. 

Act of God, An : an accident due to 
causes over which no man has control, 

ActSBon, An : (i) a hunter ; (2) the 
husband of an unfaithful wife. 

Actseon-like : Actaeon, a hunter, who 
witnessed Diana bathing and as a 
punishment was turned by her into a 
stag, which was torn to pieces by his 
own hounds. 


Actaeon's hounds : see Actaeon-like. 

[James Puckle, The Club : ' Dear 
Kinsman' (171 1)] 
Action years : years in which the Actian 
Games instituted at Actium, in honour 
of Apollo, were celebrated. 
Action-sermon, An : a sacramental or 

Communion discourse (Scottish). 
Adam, A Son (Child) of : a human being. 
After Adam, the first man. 

Adam, An : (i) a humorous epithet for a 
sergeant or bailiff who wore buff. 
After Adam who ' wore his native 
buff.' [Shakespeare, Comedy of Errors, 
IV, iii] (2) a faithful, devoted old 
servant. After a character in Shakes- 
peare, As You Like It (1600). 

Adam Bell, An : an accomplished archer. 
After a northern outlaw, celebrated for 
his archery. [Percy, Reliques, I 

Adam Cupid : Cupid as an archer : see 
Adam Bell. [Shakespeare, Romeo and 
Juliet, II (1592)] 

Adam, Father : see Father Adam. 

Adam furniture (etc.) : in the style of the 
Brothers Adam (John, Robert, James, 
WilUam), English architects who flour- 
ished in the latter half of the i8th cent. 

Adam, Not to know from : to have no 
knowledge of at all. 

Adam, The offending : the original 
inclination to evil in man. [Shakes- 
peare, Henry V, I, i (1599)] 

Adam, The old : man's natural tendency 
towards evil. After Adam, the first 
man, who succumbed to temptation. 
{Romans, vi, 6, etc.] 

Adam, As old as : in allusion to Adam, 
the first man. Used as a rule in 
connection with stale news. 

Adam, The Second (New) : Jesus Christ. 

Adam's ale : water. The phrase was 
introduced by the Puritans. [Prynne, 
Sovereign Power of Parliament (1643)] 

Adam's apple : the thyroid cartilage 
visible in the human throat ; the 
' huggle-guggle.' After the super- 
stition that it arose from a piece of the 
forbidden fruit that stuck in Adam's 

Adam's arms : a spade, in allusion to 
the first man. 

Adam's profession : gardening. On 
account of the occupation of Adam in 
the Garden of Eden. An ' Adamist,' 
a gardener. 

Adam's sin : disobedience. 

Adam's wine : Adam's ale {q.v.) (a 

; [Address 

Adams, Parson : a simple, kind-hearted, 
honest old country clergyman. After 
a character in Fielding, Joseph 
Andrews (1742). 

Adamant, A heart of : a cold, unemotion- 
able disposition, impervious to in- 
fluence. The adamant is the diamond. 
[E^ekiel, iii, 9 ; and Greene, Selimus, 
II, 47-8 (1594)] 

Adamant, As hard as : as hard as the 
diamond. [Ovid, Heroides, X, 109 ; 
and Lyly, Euphues (1579)] 

Adamantine chain. An : an unbreakable 
bond. [iEschylus, Prometheus Vinctus; 
Ovid, Tristia, Bk. IV, viii, 11, 45-6; 
and Milton, Paradise Lost, I, 48 (1667)] 

Adamite, An : (i) a descendant of 
Adam ; (2) a member of a religious 
sect that practised nudity in imitation 
of Adam. The sect flourished at 
intervals from 2nd to 19th cent. ; (3) 
an adherent of John Quincy Adams, 
loth president of the U.S. 

ad captandum {Lat., for catching) : 
addressed to ignorance, prejudice, etc., 
rather than to reason. 

ad cmmenam: An argument (I^at., to the 
purse, pocket) : an argument that 
appeals to one's material interests. 
[Scott, Rob Roy, ch. 27 (1818)] 

ad hominem (J^at., at the man) : of an 
argument directed to the special 
interest or feelings of the individual, 
instead of to abstract or general 

ad valorem {Lat.) : applied to customs 
and excise duties calculated on the 
value of the goods on which they are 
levied. Also used generally for ' up to 
the value of the goods.' 

Addison of the North, The : Henry 
Mackenzie (i 745-1 831), Scottish 
essayist and novelist. 

Addition, division and silence : corrupt 
practices supposed to be necessary to 
an unscrupulous politician. BeUeved 
to have been first used in a letter 
alleged to have been written by W. H . 
Kemble, State Treasurer of Pennsyl- 
vania, and published in the New York 
Sun, March 15, 1872. 

Addled Parliament, The : summoned in 
1614 and dissolved without having 
passed any legislation. 

Addle-headed (-pated) : muddle-headed. 
A metaphor derived from an addled 

Address, The : the reply to the King's 
Speech moved on the opening of a 
session of Parliament. 

Adelantado] i 

Adelantado, An {Span., ' His Ex- 
cellency ') : an important personage ; 
esp. the head of a small community. 
It is the title of a Spanish governor of 
a province. 

Adjutators : nominees of the Army ap- 
pointed to represent their grievances 
before Parliament in 1647. 

Admirable, The : Abraham Aben-Ezra 
( 1 093 - 1 1 67) , Spanish- Jewish scholar 
and biblical commentator. 

Admirable Crichton : see Crichton. 

Admirable Doctor, The : Roger Bacon 
(c. 1214-94), English scholar and 

Admiral of the Bine, An : (i) formerly an 
admiral hoisting a flag on a blue 
ground and commanding the rear ; 
(2) a tapster, from the colour of his 
apron ; (3) a butcher, for the same 

Admiral of the Red, An : (i) formerly an 
admiral hoisting a flag on a red ground 
and commanding in the centre ; (2) a 
tippler, from the colour of his face or 

Admiral of the Red, White and Blue, An : 
a beadle ; hall-porter ; etc. From 
their gorgeous uniforms. 

Admiral of the WWte, An : (i) formerly 
an admiral hoisting a flag on a white 
ground, who commanded in the van ; 
(2) a coward ; (3) a fainting person. 

Admiral, To tap the : to drink secretly. 
Originally a nautical phrase. 

Admiral's Regiment, The : the Royal 

Admonitioners, Admonitionists : the 
Puritans who made representations to 
Parliament in 15 71 against ceremonies 
in the Church of England. From the 
' admonition ' which they presented. 

Ado, To keep : to be always astir. 
[Earle, Microcosmographie : A Medley 
Man (1628)] 

Ado, To make an : to make a fuss. 
[Thos. Preston, Khrg Camhyses, I, 832 
(c. 1561)] 

Adonai (Heb.) : (i) a name of God ; (2) 
My lords ; (3) the god of light among 
the Rosicrucians. 

Adonis, An : an extremely handsome 
youth or man ; a dandy. After 
Adonis, the beloved of Venus, famous 
for his beauty. 

Adonis garden. An : an ephemeral toy 
or pleasure. From the Adonis gardens 
or lettuce jars of the ancient Greeks in 
which herbs were grown for the annual 
festival of Adonis, and then discarded. 


Adonis of fifty : George IV of England. 
So-called by Leigh Hunt, who suffered 
imprisonment on account of the epi- 
gram which contained the phrase. 

Adoptive Emperors, The : Nerva, Trajan, 
Hadrian, Antoninus Pius and Marcus 
Aurelius, Roman emperors who were 
adopted and nominated by their im- 
mediate predecessors. 

Adriatic, Marriage of the : the ceremony 
formerly performed annually by the 
Doge of Venice of throwing a conse- 
cratied ring into the water. Instituted 
c. 1 1 77 to commemorate the victory 
over Emperor Frederick Barbarossa. 

Adallam, Cave of : see AduUamites. 

Adullamites : seceders from the Liberal 
Party in 1866 on the subject of Parlia- 
mentary Reform. The secession was 
termed the Cave of AduUam by John 
Bright {see I Sam., xxii). Hence any 
body of political seceders. 

Adventurer ; Merchant Adventurer : one 
engaged in a trading expedition in the 
16th or 17th cent., or a member of a 
society engaged in such an enterprise. 
In the Elizabethan period a volunteer 
who participated in a naval enterprise 
was sometimes called an ' Adventurer.' 

Adventurer upon return. An : a traveller 
who gambled on his return from^a 
voyage. He lent money on his de- 
parture and was repaid with heavy- 
interest in the event of his return. 

Adventurers of 1642, The : those who 
advanced money to the Government in 
1 64 1 and were repaid by grants of land 
in Ireland 12 years later. 

Adversary, The : Satan. [I Peier, v, 8] 

Advocatus Diaboli {Lot., the devil's advo- 
cate) : an adverse critic. Properly, 
the official appointed by the Pope to 
argue against the proposed canoniza- 
tion of a saint. 

iEgean civilization : prehistoric civiliza- 
tion centering in Crete and spreading 
around the shores of the Eastern 
Mediterranean, or iEgean, Sea. 

iEger, An {Lat., ill) : (i) a certificate of 
illness held by a student at a university 
or school ; (2) the e.xcuse for absence 
on account of illness. 

2Egis of . . Under the : under the protec- 
tion of . . The aegis was the shield 
given by Jupiter to Athena. It was 
the former's protection in his war with 
the Titans. 

^Sgrotat, An {Lai., he is ill) : an excuse 
from examination at a universitv on 
account of illness. 


A.E.LO.U. : Austriae Est Imperare Orbi 
Universo ; Austria Erit In Orbe 
Ultima ; A lies Erdreich 1st Oesterreich 
Unterthan ; Austria's Empire Is Over 
all Universal. Adopted by the Em- 
peror Frederick III, Archduke ol 
Austria (1415-93). 

iElia Leelia : an insoluble riddle. From 
the title of a Latin inscription dis- 
covered at Bologna. 

^monian arts. The : magic. After 
iEmonia in Thessaly, famous for its 

iEolian : (i) borne by the wind, after 
iEolus, the god of the winds ; (2) lyric, 
after .ffilolis, the N.W. Coast of Asia 
Minor, where the early lyric poetry of 
the Greeks flourished. 

SSoUsJX harp, An : a musical instrument 
played by the wind. After uEolus, the 
god of the winds. 

fflolus, A cave (temple) of : a very windy 
place. After iEolus (Greek mythology), 
the keeper of the winds. 

iEolus, The breath of : scandal. 

.ffischylus of France, The : Prosper 
JolyotdeCrebillon (1674-1762), French 
dramatist and poet. After jEschylus 
(525-456 B.C.), the founder of the 
Greek drama. 

iEsculapius, An : a physician. After 
iEsculapius, the Greek god of medicine. 
' iEsculapian,' medicinal. 

iEson's bath : a hair-dye [according to 
Sir T. Browne, Religio Medici (1643)] 
The reference is to the rejuvenation of 
iEson by Medea. 

ffisop of Arabia, The : Lokman (fl. 5th 
cent.). After ^Esop (c. 620-560 B.C.), 
the famous Greek fabulist. 

iEsop of England, The : John 
Gay (1688-1732), author of Fables 

2Ssop of France, The : Jean de la Fon- 
taine (1621-95), author of Fables 

aisop of Germany, The : Gotthold 
Ephraim Lessing (1729-81). 

iHsop of India, The : Pilpay or Bidpai, 
author of Fables (c. 300 B.C.). 

Affaire de coeur. An {Fr.. affair of the 
heart) : a love-affair. 

Affaire d'honneur. An {Fr., affair of 
honour) : a duel. 

Affliction, Bread of : a living earned in 
painful or unpleasant circumstances. 
[Deuteronomy, xvi, 3] 

Afrancesados : Napoleon's supporters in 
Spain and Spanish America. 

African dust : gold. 


African Slave, The : Terence (B.C. 194- 
159), Latin comedian, who was brought 
to Rome from Carthage as a slave. 

Africander, An : a white South- African, 
generally of Dutch extraction. 

Africander Bond, The : a political associ- 
ation formed in 1882 to secure the 
independence of South Africa. 

After us the Deluge : see Deluge. 

After-cast : (i) a second throw at dice ; 
(2) anything done too late. 

After-clap, An : a sudden attack oc- 
curring after the contest is supposed to 
have concluded ; an unexpected de- 
mand suddenly put forward. [Occleve, 
De Regimine Principnm, 855 (14 11 -2)] 

After-dinner mood, Aii : a comfortable 
and good-tempered condition. 

After-meal, An : an entertainment 
following a banquet. 

Afternoon of one's days. The : the second 
half of a life of normal length. 
[Shakespeare, Richard III, III, vii, 


Afternoon's man. An : a tippler. [Sir T. 
Overbury, Characters, A Water-man, 

Aga Khan, An : (i) a descendant of Ali, 
the husband of Fatima, Mahomet's 
daughter ; (2) an Indian prince of this 
descent possessing spiritual authority. 

Agamemnon, An : a great military ruler. 
After the legendary king of Mycenae, 
who led the Greek expedition against 
Troy and who, on his return home, 
was murdered either by his wife or by 
her paramour. 

Aganice, As the moon obeys : from an 
ancient Greek proverb, used in allusion 
to boasters ; more remotely from the 
legend of Aganice of Thessaly, who, 
learning to calculate eclipses, pre- 
tended, until her secret was dis- 
covered, that she could control the 

Agape {Grk., love) : a love-feast in the 
ritual of the Ejirly Christians. 

Agapemone : (i) an institution of the 
religious sect of Agapemonites ; (2) an 
' abode of (sexual) love.' 

Agate, An : an undersized person. From 
the small figures cut in agate, which 
stone was named after Achates, the 
Greek name of a Sicilian river in whose 
bed agates were found in profusion. 

Agathocles' pot : a poor relation. From 
Agathocles (B.C. 361-289), Tyrant of 
Syracuse, who was the son of a potter, 
himself at first followed that trade, and 
in his period of greatness always kept 


an earthen pot near him to remind 
him of his origin. 

Age, Of a certain : generally of a woman, 
no longer young. [R. Cumberland, 
The Mysterious Husband, I, i (1783)] 

Age of the Bishops, The: The ninth 
century (according to Hallam). 

Age of the Popes, The : the twelfth 
century (according to Hallam). 

Age, The Wire : the present. On 
account of the universal use of the 

Ages, The Five : (i) according to Hesiod : 
the Golden or Patriarchal ; the Silver 
or Voluptuous ; the Brazen or War- 
like ; the Heroic or Renaissant ; the 
Iron or Present; (2) according to 
Fichte : the Antediluvian ; the Post- 
diluvian ; the Christian ; the Satanic ; 
the Millenian. 

Ages, The Three : (i) according to Varro : 
the Beginning of Mankind to the 
Deluge ; the Deluge to the First 
Olympiad (the mythical) ; the First 
Olympiad to the Present Time (the 
Historic) ; (2) according to Lucretius : 
the Age of Stone (when implements of 
stone were used) ; the Age of Bronze 
(when implements of copper or brass 
were used) ; the Age of Iron (the 
present, when implements of iron are 

Ages of Man, The Seven : see Seven Ages. 

Ages of Man, The Three : (i) " At 20 years 
of age the will ripens ; at 30 the wit ; 
at 40 the judgment." [Benj . Franklin, 
Poor Richard's Almanac for 1741, June] 
(2) an infant in a cradle, a shepherd 
playing a flute, an old man medi- 
tating on two skulls ; as symbolized 
by Titian. 

Ages of a State, The Three : see State, 
The Three Ages of a. 

Agent Provocateur, An (Fr.) : a secret 
agent employed by governments to 
encourage suspected revolutionists or 
other political offenders so far to 
commit themselves as to justify their 

Agitator, An : one who stirs up feelings 
of discontent. Originally one of the 
delegates of the private soldiers in the 
English Parliamentary Army (1647). 

Agnes, An : a simple girl who innocently 
makes remarks into which an improper 
interpretation can be read. After a 
character in Molifere, L'Ecole des 
Femmes (1662). 

Agnus Bell, An : the bell rung while the 
Agnus Dei is being recited or chanted. 

8 [Air 

Agnus Dei {Lat., the Lamb of God) : 
(i) the symbol of Christ : in the Catho- 
lic Church a cake of candle-wax im- 
pressed with the symbol of a lamb and 
blessed by the Pope ; (2) a prayer 
commencing with the words Agnus Dei, 
O Lamb of God. 

Agog, To set {Fr., h gogo, in clover) : to 
excite to eager expectation, like a 
horse in clover. 

Agony Column, An : the advertisement 
column of a newspaper which contains 
inquiries for missing friends, com- 
munications between lovers, etc. In 
allusion to the obvious distress of some 
of the advertisers. 

Agony, To pile on (up) the : to exaggerate 
esp. in sensational narratives. [Mrs. 
Gaskell, Life of Charlotle Bronte, ch. 
XXV (1857)] 

Agrarian League, The : a German league 
formed in 1893 to secure the adoption 
of bimetallism and protection. 

Agraviados {Span., men with a griev- 
ance) : Spanish insurgents of 1826-8. 

Agree to differ. To : to refrain from dis- 
pute although not in agreement. 
[Sidney, Arcadia, Bk. I (1590)] 

Agur's wish : ' Give me neither riches 
nor poverty.' [Proverbs xxx, 8] 

Ahitophel : see Achitophel. 

Aholibah : the personification of prosti- 
tution. [Ezekiel, xxiii] 

Ahriman : the principle of evil, according 
to the old Persian mythology. 

Aid, An : a feudal tax levied in England 
on vassals ; also sometimes a volun- 
tary grant. 

Aide de Camp, An {Fr., camp-assistant) : 
an officer in attendance on a general. 
[Cotton, Espernon, III, xi (1670)] 

Aim-crier, An : an abettor. A metaphor 
drawn from archery. 

Aim at. To take an : to estimate. 
[Francis Bacon, Essays : Of Super- 
stition (1625)] 

Aim, To cry : to consent ; approve of ; 
applaud. Originally derived from 
archery where it was used to encourage 
a competitor to accept a challenge. 
[Rob. Gamier, Cornelia (Thos. Kyd's 
Translation), IV, i, 172 (1594)] 

Aim, To give : to stand aloof ; to guide 
one who aims, by intorming him of the 
result of his previous shot. Originally 
an archery term. [Dekker and 
Webster, Westward Ho, II, ii (1607)] 

Air one's opinions. To : to state, one's 
views publicly ; to propound one's 


Air, To live on : to have no visible 
means of existence. 

Air, To plougb the : see Plough. 

Air, To take : to be spread abroad. 
[Bunyan, The Holy War (1682)] 

Air, To take tJie : to enjoy a walk or 

Air, To vanish into thin : to disappear. 
[Homer, Odyssey, Bk. VIII, 409 ; 
Shakespeare, The Tempest, IV, i, 11. 
148-56 (?i6o9)] 

Air, To walk on : to be light-hearted. 

Air weeps. The : it rains. [Nich. 
Grimald, Epitaph on the Death of Sir 
James Willford (1557)] 

Airs, To give oneself : to make preten- 
sions to superiority. 

Airy nothings : matters of no conse- 
quence. Attributed to Dr. Johnson 
by Mrs. Piozzi. 

Ajax, An : (i) a hero, distinguished by 
stature, strength, and physical beauty. 
After the Greek hero in the Trojan 
War ; (2) a water-closet ; properly, a 

Alabama Claim, The : a privateer, fitted 
out in England, which preyed on the 
commerce of the Northern States 
during the American Civil War, in 
consequence of which more than 
;£3,ooo,ooo compensation had to be 
paid by England. 

Aladdin's cave of wealth. An : vast 
stores of wealth. From the tale of 
Aladdin and the Wonderfid Lamp in 
The Arabian Nights. 

Aladdin's Lamp : a talisman that brings 
good fortune and success. From the 
tale of Aladdin and the Wonderful 
Lamp in The Arabian Nights. 

Aladdin's Window, To finish : to attempt 
to complete a task beyond one's 
powers. From the tale of Aladdin in 
The Arabian Nights. 

Alamode : see a la mode. 

Alaric Cottin (Cotin) : a nickname given 
to Frederick the Great of Prussia by 
Voltaire. After Alaric, the Visigothic 
King, a famous warrior (c. 376-410), 
and Charles Cotin, a mediocre French 
poet (1604-82). 

Alarm, A false : an unnecessary warning 
of approaching danger. From all' 
arme, to arms. [Langland, Piers 
Plowman, XX, 91 (14th cent.)] 

Alascons : Protestant refugees in England 
in the i6th cent. After Jan a Lasci, a 
Polish refugee in England (1499-1560). 

Alasnam's M&ror : the test of virtue ; a 
mirror given by one of the genii to 


Prince Zeyn Alasnam, whereby he could 
tell immediately whether a maiden 
would remain faithful to him or not. 
[The Arabian Nights] 

Albany ; Albion : a poetical name for 
Scotland. Properly, Northern Scot- 

Albany Regency, The : an American 
political Party, with headquarters at 
Albany, New York State. It acquired 
considerable influence (c. 1820-54). 

Albertine, An : a very careful domestic 
manageress. After a character in 
Alexandre Dumas (fils), Le Pire 
Prodigne (1859). 

Albigenses, Kie : Pre-Reformation 
heretics ; esp. Reformers in the South 
of France in the 12th and 13th 
centuries who were severely persecuted 
by Innocent III and Simon de Mont- 
fort, and who were the progenitors of 
the Reformation in England and on 
the Continent. From Albi, a town in 
Languedoc, one of their centres. 

Albin : Albion (q.v.) ; Albany (q.v.) 

Albino-poets : minor poets, noteworthy 
for sweetness rather than for strength. 
A term invented by Oliver Wendell 
Holmes in The Autocrat of the Breakfast 
Table (1857-8) in reference to Kirke 
White, on whose name the term is a 

Albion : the ancient and poetical name 
of Britain. From a Celtic word, 
meaning White Land, in allusion to 
the chalk cliffs on the southern coast. 

Alcantara, Knights of : a Spanish order 
of knighthood, established in 1177 for 
service against the Mohammedans. 

Alcinous, An : a protector and host. After 
the king of the Phaeacians, with whom 
Odysseus, Jason and Medea took refuge. 

Alcinous, A feast of : an extravagant 

Alcinous, Apples to : see Apples. 

Alcmena's night. An : a night apparently 
as long as three ordinary ones. 

Alcyon : see Halcyon. 

Alderman, An : (i) a crowbar as a 
burglar's tool, on account of its im- 
portant position in the outfit ; (2) 
two-shillings-and-sixpence ; because 
just as an alderman is half a king in 
his ward, a two-and-sixpenny coin is 
half-a-crown ; (3) a turkey ; from its 
usual appearance at municipal 
banquets, and also from the red and 
purples of its head and neck. 

Alderman in chains. An : a turkey with 
sausages hung around it. On account 

Aldernum] i 

of its resemblance to a portly City 
alderman wearing the chain of office. 

Alderman's pace : a slow, stately pace. 

Aldgate Pump, A draught on : a dis- 
honoured cheque. A play on draught 

Aldine Editions : books printed by Aldus 
Manutius of Venice (1450-1515), who 
invented the italic (formerly Aldine) 
type. Esp. editions of the classics 
printed by the Aldine press. 

Ale, March : see March Ale. 

Ale mends in summer. To mend as sour : 
not at all. [Heywood, Proverbes 

Ales : rustic festivals. On account of 
the ale consumed on such occasions. 

Ale-bush, An : a tavem-sign. [Henry 
Porter, 2 wo Angry Women of Abington 

Ale-clout, To wash one's face in an : to 
get drunk. [Heywood, Proverbes 

Ale-conner, An : a mediaeval English 
official appointed to prevent depreci- 
ation in the quality of ale sold. 

Ale-dagger, An : a dagger worn for use 
in taverns. 

Ale-draper, An : a tavern-keeper. By 
analogy with linen-draper. [Chettle, 
Kinde-Hart's Dreame (1593)] 

Ale-Knight, An : a tippler. [Eccl. Proc. 
Chester (i575)] 

Ale-silver : a tax formerly paid to the 
Lord Mayor of London by those who 
sold ale within the City. 

Ale-stake : (i) the sign before an inn, or 
its support ; [Chaucer, Canterbury 
Tales, Prologue 667 (1386)] (2) a 
tippler (i6th cent.). 

Ale-wife, An : (i) a kind of herring ; 
(2) the wife of an innkeeper. 

Alexander Newsld, Order of : a Russian 
Order of Knighthood, founded by 
Peter the Great. 

Alexander of the North : Charles XII 
of Sweden. In allusion to Alexander 
the Great, King of Macedon (356-323 

Alexander, The Albanian : Iskander Beg 
or Scanderbeg (George Castriot) (1403- 
67), Prince of Albania. 

Alexander the Corrector : Alexander 
Cruden (1701-70), author of the Con- 
cordance to the Bible, who petitioned 
Parliament to appoint him ' Corrector 
of the People.' 

Alexander, The English : Henry V. 
After Alexander the Great, Conqueror 
of th« World. 


Alexander, The Persian : Sandjar 

Alexanders at five sous a day : soldiers, 

so-called by Voltaire. 

Alexander's beard : no beard. 

Alexandra limp. The : an artificial limp 
fashionable in English society (1872 
et seq.) when Queen Alexandra was 
suffering from an injury to the knee. 

Alexandrian : (in mediaeval times) 
Eastern, because all oriental produce 
w£is imported from Alexandria. 

Alexandrine (Verse) : The French heroic 
verse ; in English a kind of verse. 
After the French poet Alexandre Paris 
or from a poem on the subject of 
Alexander the Great. 

Alexandrine Age, The : A.D. 323-640 
when Alexandria was at the culmina- 
tion of its career. 

Alfred's Scholars : Werfrith, Bp. of 
Worcester ; Ethelstan and Werwulf , 
Mercian priests ; Plegmund of Mercia, 
Abp. of Canterbury ; Asser, a Welsh- 
man ; Grimbald, a Frenchman. 

Algerism : administrative incapacity. 
After Russell Alger, American Secre- 
tary for War (1897-99), who was driven 
from office on account of his inefficient 
management of the Spanish-American 

Alibi clock. An [Lat., elsewhere) : a 
clock that strikes one hour and shows 

Aliboron, An : a fool ; an ass. The 
name of a jackass in one of La Fon- 
taine's Fables. 

Alive and kicking : very much alive. In 
allusion to the child in the mother's 
womb after quickening. [Peter 
Pindar, Hair Powder (1795)] 

All and some : everyone. [The Pardoner 
and the Friar (1533)] 

All and sundry : all without exception. 

All Fools' Day : the ist of April : see 
April Fool. 

All fours. To go on : to crawl on hands 
and knees. 

All fours with . . On : quite conforming 
with . . ; entirely agreeing and har- 
monious with . . ; ■ squaring ' with . . 
Of Masonic origin, denoting the com- 
pleteness and harmony of the four 
sides of a square. 

All Halloween summer. An : a late 
summer. After the Festival of All 
Hallows (All Saints) on the ist of 

All my eye (and Betty Martin) : all non- 
sense. Supposed to be a corruption of 

AU] ] 

ah mihi, beate Marline, ' Woe to me. 
Blessed Martin,' the invocation of 
Italian beggars to their saint. It is 
said that an English sailor wandered 
into an Italian Church, and, when 
asked by his companions what was 
transpiring therein, replied : ' All my 
eye and Betty Martin.' In all prob- 
ability the phrase has some kinship 
with ' to have in one's eye,' to have in 
mind, the suggestion being that not 
only is it in the mind, but it will 
remain there and never materialize. 

All one : of no difference. [Lilly, 
Campaspe III, ii (1584)] 

All, One's (little) : all one's property. 
[Peter Pindar, Mr. Pitt's Flight to 
Wimbledon (1795)] 

All Red Cable : the cable-route, com- 
pleted in 1902, from England to 
Australia, not touching foreign soil. 

All Saints' Day : November ist. 

All serene : all right. Span., serena, a 
pass-word used in Cuba. 

All Soul's Day : November 2nd. A 
Catholic festival in memory of the 

All talk and no cider : much cry and 
little wool ; a great deal of fuss but 
very little result. An Americanism. 
Said to have arisen out of a cider party 
met in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, 
which quickly developed into a political 
meeting, to the resentment of many of 
the guests who considered that they 
had been brought to the gathering on 
false pretences. 

All the go : popular at the moment. 
Originally a draper's term, that which 
is going (by salei and will soon be sold 

All the Hacks : the British ministry 
which succeeded that of ' All the 
Talents ' in 1807. 

All the Talents : Lord Grenville's Coali- 
tion Ministry of 1806-7, which included 
representatives of both political parties. 

All there : quick-witted and in full 
possession of his senses. 

All things to all men : of one who en- 
deavours by agreeing with everybody 
to displease nobody. [I Corinthians, 
ix, 22 ; Edgewoilh, Belinda, ch. i 

All the world and his wife : the whole of 
society. [Swift, (Simon Wagstafl), 
Polite Conversation, Dial. Ill (1738)] 

All, To throw (push) at : to risk every- 
thing. [Dekker, Whore of Babvlon 


All waters. To be for : to be able to turn 
to any occupation, like a fish that can 
live in either fresh or salt water. 
[Shakespeare, Twelfth Night, IV, ii 

All-fathering river, The : the Nile, so- 
called by G. W. Steevens. 

Alley, To be good only in one's own : 
metaphor drawn from the bowling- 
alley. [Bacon, Essays : Of Cunning 


Alliance Society, The : a Belgian political 
Society formed in 1897 to secure the 
union of the different branches of the 
Liberal Party. 

Allodial lands : lands held absolutely 
among the Franks, subject to no 
burdens and passing on death to 
next of kin. 

Alma Mater (Lat., benign Mother) : the 
university or college at which one has 
been educated. [Trapp, Commentary 
on Old Test., Ill (1657)] 

Almanac, As uncertain as an : metaphor 
derived from Marston, Jacke Drum's 
Entertainemsnt (1601). 

Almighty doUar, The : money regarded 
as a god. Term coined by Washington 
Irving in The Creole Village (1837). 
See also Ben Jonson, Epistle to 
Countess of Rutland, ' almighty gold.' 

Almond for a parrot. An : a trifle to 
amuse a silly person. [Ray, Proverbs 

Almond tree. The : the grey hair of old 
age. [Ecclesiastes, xii] 

Alms basket : charity. 

Alms penny. An : a lucky penny. 
[Peele, Old Wives' Tale (1595)] 

Alnaschar dream, An : a day-dream. 
From the story of Alnaschar in The 
Arabian Nights. He invests all his 
possessions in glass-ware, begins to 
imagine his success step by step until 
he becomes a millionaire, when with a 
careless kick he upsets his merchandise 
and thereby destroys the whole basis 
of his dreams. 

Alnaschar of Modem Literature, The : 
Samuel Taylor Coleridge (1772-1834), 
who said that he derived his Kubla 
Khan from a dream. 

Alpha and omega (Grft.) : the first and 
the last ; the beginning and the end. 
They are the first and the last letters 
of the Greek alphabet. [Revelations. 
i. 8] 

Alruna-wife, An : a household god, after 
the Alrunes or household gods of the 
ancient Germans. 


Alsatia : a sanctuary ; a resort for bad 
characters. From Alsace, for majiy 
centuries a debatable province between 
Germany and France. In i6th cent, 
the region between the River 
Thames and Fleet Street in London 
was termed Alsatia, and was a sanc- 
tuary for rogues. 

Alsatian, An : a street bully, from 
Alsatia (q.v.). 

Alter ego, An (Lat., other I) : one's 
other self. [Mobbe's transl. of Ale- 
man, Guzman de Alfarache (1623); 
Suppression of Monasteries, p. 156 


Alter Fritz {Germ., old Fritz) : Frederick 
the Great of Prussia (1712-86). 

Althaea's brand : a fatal event. From 
the legend of Althaea's son Meleager, 
who was to live so long as a log then 
on the fire remained unconsumed. 
[Ovid, Metam., VIII, 4] 

Altrincham (Cheshire) : a proverbially 
small and poor corporation. 

Alumbrados : a Spanish mystical sect, 
the forerunners of the lUuminati (q.v.) 
which flourished in the first quarter of 
the 1 6th cent. 

Alumnus, An (Lat., foster-child) : a 
pupil of an educational establishment : 
see Alma Mater. [Evelyn, Diary, I 

Alvina weeps : the wind blows loudly. 
From a Flemish legend of Alvina, a 
princess cursed by her parents, who 
took to the air where she continued to 
wander and weep. 

Amaimon ; Amaymon ; Amoymon : (in 
mediaeval demonology) one of the 
four kings of hell. 

Amalekites, To smite the : to root out . . 
utterly destroy . . [Exodus, xvii, 
8-16 ; I 5am., xxx ; I Chron., iv, 


Amalfitan Code, The : the earliest-known 
code of maritime law (nth cent.). 
After Amalfi, in Italy. 

Amalthea's horn : the horn of plenty. 
After the horn of the goat Amalthea, 
the foster-mother of Jupiter. 

Amaranthine flower of faith : everlasting 
flower of faith. The amaranth was 
reputed to be unfading. [Words- 
worth, Weak is the Will of Man] 

Amaryllis, An : a country girl. After a 
country girl in Theocritus, Idyls, Ovid, 
and Virgil, Eclogues. 

Amati, An : a violin of excellent quality. 
After the maker, Andrea Amati, of 
Cremona (i\. 1550). 

2 [Aminadab 

Amazon, An : a female warrior ; a 
physically powerful woman ; a virago. 
According to Herodotus the Amazons, 
a race of female warriors, inhabited 

Amazone : A riding habit. 

Amazonian chin. An : a beardless chin. 

Amber, A fly in the : see Fly. 

Ambesas, Ambes-ace, Ames-ace {Lot., 
ambo asses: two aces, i.e., the lowest 
cast of the dice) ; bad luck. 

Ambree, A Mary : a woman of strength 
and spirit. After an English heroine 
at the siege of Gaunt (1584T, the subject 
of a ballad. [Ben Jonson, Tale of a 
Tub, I, 4 (1633)] 

Ambrosia : food or drink of a most 
delicious character. In Greek myth- 
ology, the food of the gods. 

Amen to. To say : ' to approve of. 
[Bunyan, Pilgrim's Progress (1678)] 

Amende honorable. An (Fr.) : a public 
and generous admission of wrong 
done ; honourable compensation. 
Formerly (in France), a disgraceful 
form of punishment for traitors, parri- 
cides and sacriligious persons. 

Amends, To make : to apologize and 
compensate for a slight offence, 
probably unintentional. [Paston 

Letters, No. 408 (1461)] 

American Party, The : A United States 
political party which flourished in the 
middle of the 19th cent. It advocated 
differentiation against Americans of 
foreign birth. It was also known as 
the Know Nothing Party, because, 
being at first a secret organisation, its 
members refused to furnish any 
information concerning it or its 

American Volunteers, The : An American 
Salvation Army, formed as a secession 
from the Salvation Army by Mr. and 
Mrs. Ballington Booth in 1896. 

Ames-ace : see Ambesas. 

Ami des Hommes, L' ( Fr., friend of man) : 
Victor Riquetti, Marquis de Mira- 
beau (1715-89), French politician, 
father of the great Mirabeau. After 
his book L'Ami des Hommes (1756). 
Ami du Penple, L' {Fr., friend of the 
people) : Jean Paul Marat (1743-93), 
French Revolutionary leader. After 
the title of the paper which he edited. 
Amicus curiae {Lat., friend of the Court): 
one in court, not a party to the suit, 
who assists or corrects the judge. 
Aminadab, An : a Quaker. A term used 
by the earlier English dramatists. 


Ammonian horn. The : the cornucopia or 
horn of plenty. Orig., a tract of very 
fertile land, in the shape of a ram's 
horn, given by Ammon, king of Libya, 
to Amalthea, the mother of Bacchus. 

Amnesty oath, The : the oath required 
of those to whom an amnesty was 
granted after the conclusion of the 
American Civil War. 

Amok (amuck). To run : to attack 
frenziedly and indiscriminately all 
within reach. From amuco, the Malay 
name for those who act in this 

Amort, All {Fr., <i la mort, to the death): 
lifeless ; in a state of death. 

Amour propre {,Fr., self-love) : self- 
esteem ; self-respect. 

Ampersand : the sign ' &.' Literally, 
' and per se — and,' and by itself, and. 

Amphidromical feast. An : a sacramental 
feast. After the Amphidromia, a 
family festival in ancient Athens at 
which a newly-bom infant was conse- 

Amphigouri : nonsense verses. 

Amphisbsena : a mythical Libaean 
serpent with a head at both ends. 

Amphitryon, An : a host who gives good 
dinners. After a play of that name 
by Moliere. This was based on a play 
by Plautus, who on his part used a 
Greek legend for his basis. 

Ampoule, La Sainte {Fr.) : the vase that 
contained the oil with which the kings 
of France used to be anointed at their 
coronations. Destroyed in the first 
French Revolution. 

Amsterdam religion : extreme Puritan- 
ism or Nonconformity, after the 
Puritans who fled from England to 
Amsterdam and other cities of Holland 
at the beginning of the 17th cent. 

Amuck : see Amok. 

Amurath succeeds an Amurath, An : one 
tyrant or oppressor follows another. 
In allusion to Amurath III, Turkish 
sultan, who reigned from 1574-95, and 
whose first act after his accession was 
to invite all his brothers to a banquet 
and strangle them. [Shakespeare, 
2 Henry IV. V, ii (1598)] 

Amydsean Brothers, The : Castor and 
Pollux. They were bom at Amyclae. 

Amyclsean silence : the inhabitants of 
Amyclae, in consequence of repeated 
false reports, were forbidden to an- 
nounce the approach of the Spartan 
enemy, who in consequence ultimately 
took the city by surprise. 

13 [Anathema 

Amysis plays the fool : said of someone 
assuming stupidity or some other false 
attribute. Amysis, sent to Delphi to 
consult the oracle, learnt that his city 
was about to be destroyed, and, to 
escape its fate, fled to Peloponnesus. 

Anabaptists : (i) an extreme religious 
and revolutionary communistic sect, 
which seized the City of Munster in 
1535. but was afterwards suppressed ; 
(2) a sect of Baptist dissenters, who 
advocated a second baptism. 

Anacharsis among the Scythians : a 
wise man among fools. The Scythians 
were proverbially foolish. Anacharsis, 
one of them, was an exception. 

Anack, Sons of : see Anakim. 

Anacreon, An : a poet singing of love 
and wine, after the Greek lyric poet 
(c. 563-478 B.C.). 

Anacreon Moore : Thomas Moore (1779- 
1852), Irish poet, the translator of 
Anacreon, who also wrote poems in 
the same style. 

Anacreon of painters. The : Francesco 
Albano (1578- 1660), Italian painter 
of lovely women. 

Anacreon of Persia, The : Mohammed 
Hafiz (d. 1389). 

Anacreon of the French, The : (i) Pontus. 
de Tyard (1521-1605) ; (2) P. Laujon 

Anacreon of the Guillotine, The : 
Bertrand Barere de Vieuzac (1755- 
184 1), President of the National Con- 
vention ; from his addresses to his 
victims condemned to the guillo- 

Anacreon of the Temple, The : Guillaume 
Amfrye (i 639-1 720). 

Anacreon of the Twelfth Century, The : 
Walter Mapes (1150-1208). 

Anacreon, The Scottish : Alexander 
Scot (c. 1530-70). 

Anacreon, The Sicilian : Giovanni Meli 

Anagram of a man. An : a person 
physically deformed. [The Spectator, 
No. 60 (1711)] 

Anakim ; Sons of Anak : giants. 
[Joshua, XV, etc.] 

Ananias, An : a liar. [Acts, v] 

Anathema Maran-atha : an intensified 
form of anathema, a curse, something 
accursed. In Hebrew antiquity an- 
athema was an offering dedicated 
to Jehovah, esp. one set apart for 
destruction ; in classical antiquity a 
thank-offering. [I Corinthians, xvi, 


Anatomy, An : a thin, half-starved 
person, old or young ; a skeleton. 
[Shakespeare, Comedy of Errors, V, i 

Ancestor, To be one's own : to have 
performed services (usually military) 
of such outstanding value to one's 
country that one's status demands no 
pedigree. [Voltaire, Nirope, I, 3 
(1743) : ' Qui sert bien son pays n'a 
pas besoin d'aieux,' He needs no 
ancestors who serves his country well.] 

Anchor of salvation. The : hope. [Nich. 
Breton, The Good and the Bad : A 
Holy Man (1616)] 

Anchor, To have cast : to have made up 
one's mind, fixed one's course. [Dekker 
and Webster, Sir Thomas Wyat, sc. 6 

Anchor, To ride at : to be in a position 
of security. [Congreve, Old Bachelor, 
V. I (1693)] 

Anchor, To weigh : to start on one's 

Anchors, It is safe riding at two : it is 
safe to ' have two strings to one's bow.' 

Ancien Regime ; Ancient Regime, The 
{Fr.) : the social and political system 
in France previous to the Revolution 
that commenced in 1789. 

Anoienne Noblesse, The {Fr., ancient 
nobility) : the nobility of the ancient 

Ancient, An : a banner ; banner-bearer. 
A corruption of ' ensign.' [Wright, 
Certain Errors in Navigation {1599)] 

Ancient history. That's mere : said when 
disparaging another's forecast as some- 
thing stale or known to everybody. 
The Romans had a saying, ' de Remo 
et Romulo praedicari,' to prophesy 
about Remus and Romulus (Cicero, 
De Legibus, I, 3, 8) 

Ancient lights : light through a window 
which has been enjoyed at least 
twenty years. The enjoyment of 
it then becomes a legal right. 

Ancient Mariners : graduates who row 
in college races, Cambridge University. 

Ancient of Days, The : a biblical term 
for God. 

Ancient Pistol, An : see Ancient (An). 
After Pistol, Falstaff's ' ancient ' or 
ensign in Shakespeare's plays. 

Ancient than chaos. To speak of things 
more : see Speak. 

Ancient Way, The : ' and ask for the old 
paths, where there is the good way, 
and walk therein, and ye shall find rest 
for your souls.' {Jeremiah, vi, 16). 



[Bacon, Essays : Of Innovations (3rd 
edn. 1625) ; Advancement of Learning, 
I, 5. 2 (1605)] 

Ancients, The Council of: the Upper 
House of the French Directory 
. . and his wife : added for emphasis and 
exaggeration. Cf. All the world and 
his wife {q.v.) ; Coach and horse and 
his wife {q.v.) ; also Devil and his 
dam {q.v.). 

Andalnalan eye (eto.)> An : a dark eye. 
[Barham, Ingoldsby Legends : Mrs 
Botherby's Story (1840)]. An ' Anda- 
lusian dame ' [Ainsworth, Rookwood, 
III 18 (1834)] 

Andrea Per(r)ara, An : a sword of fine 
quality. After Andrea of Ferrara, a 
famous Italian swordsmith of the i6th 
cent. [Scott, Waverley, (18 14) ; For- 
tunes of Nigel, ch. 3 (1822)] 

Andrew, An : (i) a merchant-vessel. 
After Andrea Doria (1466-1560), 
Genoese admiral. [Shakespeare, 
Merchant of Venice, I, i, 27 (?I596^]. 
(2) a man-servant. 

Andrew, A merry : a buffoon. After 
Andrew Borde or Boorde (c. 1490- 
1549), a learned English physician 
possessed of great wit, who used to 
address the people in the market-place. 

Andromache, An : a heroic and devoted 
wife. After the wife of Hector, [The 
Spectator, No. 57 (171 1)] 

Anecdote, An : a short account of an 
incident. Originally a secret history, 
a narrative of unpublished events ; 
so used by Procopius of his private life 
of Justinian and Theodora. 

Anes, Joum6e des {Fr.) : see Joum^e. 

Angd : a gold coin of the value of 6s. 8d. 
(Edw. IV to Chas. I) with a figure of 
St. Michael on the reverse. Orig., 
Angel-noble, being a new minting of 
the noble. 

Angel altogether. An : a habitual 
drunkard. A West-Indian slang 

Angel goes a-hunting. When the : i.e., 
in foul weather. A Jewish saying. 
[2^ngwill, Children of the Ghetto, I, 2 

Angel of the Schools, The : St. Thomas 
Aquinas, the angelic doctor {q.v.). 

Angel, One's good (better), or bad : 
one's better, or worse, self. It was 
previously held by some that ' every 
man hath a good and a bad angel 
attending on him in particular all his 
life long.' [Burton, Anatomy of 


Melancholy, Pt. I, Sect, ii, Mem. i, 
Sub-sect. 2 (i6ai)] 
Angel, There spoke an : used in approval 
of a proposal made by another. [Old 
play of Sir Thomas More, p. 6] 

Angei, To write like an : in allusion to 
Angelo Vergecio (Vergetius) (fl. 1535- 
65), copier of Greek MSS., after whose 
design a font of Greek type was cast 
by order of Francis I of France. The 
phrase was later applied to authors as 
well as to calligraphists, e.g., 
' Here lies Nolly Goldsmith, for short- 
ness called Noll, 
Who wrote like an angel, and talked 
like Poor Poll. 
Garrick, Epitaph on Goldsmith. 

Angel unawares. To entertain an : to 
entertain a stranger for charity's sake 
and find him a highly worthy person. 
[After Hebrews, xiii, 2] 

Angels and ministers of grace I : an 
exclamation of surprise. [Shakespeare, 
Hamlet, I, iv, 39 (1602)] 

Angel's music : the ringing of the Church 
bells. [Geo. Herbert, Temple : The 
Church Porch, st. 65 (1631)] 

Angels, To be on the side of the : to agree 
with the orthodox and more pleasant 
view of a moot question. In 1864, 
when Darwinism was somewhat of a 
novelty, Benjamin Disraeli (after- 
wards Lord Beaconsfield) said in a 
speech before the Oxford Diocesan 
Society, ' That question is this : Is 
man an ape or an angel ? I am on 
the side of the angels.' 

Angels' visits, few and far between. Like : 
said of rare joys or periods of happiness. 
Forms 1. 376 of Campbell's Pleastires 
of Hope {1799). [Norris, The Parting 
(1699) ; Blair, The Grave, 1. 589 : 
■ Like those (visits) of angels, short 
and far between.'] 

Angels weep, Enough to make the : said 
of something particularly evil, sad or 
foolish. [Shakespeare, Measure for 
Measure, II, ii, 122 (1603)] 

Angelic Doctor (Angel of the Schools), 
The : St. Thomas Aquinas (c. 1227-70), 
Italian scholastic theologian. From 
his discussions on the nature oi 

Angelica's draught : a draught which 
changes one's affection. From a 
potion drunk by Angelica in Ariosto, 
Orlando Furioso (1516). 

Angelical Stone, The : a superstition of 
the alchemists. From the speculum 
claimed by the alchemist, Dr. John 

15 [Ann 

De« (1527-1608), to hav« been given 
to him by the angels Raphael and 

Augelus, The : a Roman Catholic prayer 
in memory of the Annunciation, said 
at 6 a.m. and 6 p.m. Also the bell 
which summons worshippers to the 
prayer. From Angelas Domini nun- 
tiavit Mariae, the Angel of the 
Lord announced unto Mary, the first 
words of the prayer. It is also the 
name of a famous painting by J. F. 
Millet, of the Barbizon School. 

Angle, A Brother of the : see Brother. 

Angle with a silver hook. To : to buy 
fish instead of catching it; to bribe. 

Anglo-Catholic : one who, while remain- 
ing in communion with Rome, desired 
to secure the independence of the 
Church in England ; a member of 
the Church of England who claims for 
it a Catholic character. 

Anglo-Celtic : a term suggested by Sir 
Arthur Conan Doyle (Review of 
Reviews. June, 1898), as a substitute 
for Anglo-Saxon. 

Anglo-mania : a passion for imitating 
English fashions, customs, etc. 

Anglophobia ; Anglophobe, An : Un- 
reasonable hatred for and fear of 
England ; one who suffers from 
Anglophobia. [Ibis, p. 83 (1862)] 

Angora : a fabric made of goat's hair ; 
from Angora in Anatolia, where a 
special brood of goats, famous for • 
their silky hair, flourishes. 

Angostura ; angustura : a tonic bitters. 
From the name of a town in Venezuela, 
now known as Ciudad Bolivar. 

Angry as a wasp. As : viciously angry. 
[Geo. Gascoigne, The Steel Glass 


Anguilles de Melun, Les : crying out 
before one is hurt. In allusion to one 
Languille who took part in a mystery 
play at Melun. When in the course of 
the play the executioner came to flay 
him alive, he became so nervous as to 
shriek out in his mental agony. 

Animal, To go the entire : to go the whole 

hog (q.v.). 

Animal Spirits : a vivacity due to youth 
and good health. Animal is used in 
the sense physical, as opposed to vital 
and natural. 

Ann, Like Sister : who in the fairy-tale 
of Bluebeard kept watch from a tower 
to see whether or when the expected 
assistance for her sister Fatima would 
come in sight. 


Anna Matilda, An : an extremely 
sentimental girl. From the nom de 
plume used by Mrs. Hannah Cowley 
(1743-1809), English dramatist and 

Annates : the first year's income from a 
benefice, claimed by the Pope. Trans- 
ferred to Queen Anne's Bounty in 
1704. From Lat., anrnis, a year. 

Annual compliment. An : a salary. 
[Dickens, Hard Times (1854)] 

Annunciator, An (Amer.) : a bell or gong. 

Annunziata, Order of the : the highest 
Italian Order, founded by Amadeus V 
of Savoy in 1362. 

Annus mirabilis {Lat., the wonderful 
year) : the year 1666, famous for two 
English victories over the Dutch fleet 
and the great Fire of London. 

Annus mirabilis. An : a wonderful year. 

Anodyne Necklace, An : a hangman's 
rope. An anodyne is a reliever of 
pain. Nodus, on which the phrase is 
a pun, is the Latin for ' knot.' 

Anointed, The : Christ, the Messiah. 

Anon : the reply of waiters in the i6th 
cent, when called. 

Anonyma (Lat., a nameless female) : a 
woman of loose morals. A term in- 
vented by The Times (1862). 

Another gates : another sort. [Lyly 
Mother Bombie, I (1594)] 

Anserine {Lat., anser, a goose) : stupid, 

Answer like a Norman, To : to reply 

Answer for the consequences. To : to be 
held responsible for the consequences 
of one's action. 

Ant, As busy as an : see Proverbs, vi, 6-8. 

Antaeus, An : a powerful giant. From 
the Libyan giant and wrestler in Grk. 

Antediluvian : antiquated. Lit., before 
the Flood (Scriptural). 

Antelope State, The : Nebraska ; on 
account of the number of the antelopes 
to be found there. 

Anthology : a collection of literary 
passages, esp. poems. From Grk., 
anthos (flower) and legein (to choose). 
First used by Philippus of Thessa- 
lonica, epigrammatist (fl. c. 100). The 
first anthology was compiled by 
Meleager of Gadara about a cent, and 
a half earlier. 

Anthony, St. : see St. Anthony. 

Anthony pig. To whine like an : from the 
starved pigs which the proctors of 
St. Anthony's Hospital, London, used 

16 [Anti-Remonstrants 

I to protect and feed. These pigs used 
to follow their benefactors whining 
for food. 

Anthony's Ure : a pop. name for 
erysipelas. From the tradition that 
those who sought the intercession of 
St. Anthony recovered from the 

Anthropophagi {Grk., man-eaters) : can- 

Anti- Birmingham : a Tory, i.e., opposed 
to counterfeit, given to the opponents 
of the Exclusion Bill in 1680, by its 
supporters, who had themselves been 
dubbed ' Birmingham ' by the Tories. 
The connection between Birmingham 
and counterfeit was due to the coining 
of counterfeit groats in that town. 

Antiburgher : the section of the Secession 
Church of Scotland which seceded on 
their part in 1747 on the ground that 
it was unlawful to take the Burgess 

Anti-Christ : Satan, the man of sin ; 
(with the Early Christians) the Roman 
Empire, the persecuting emperors ; 
(with the Protestants) the Pope. 
[I John, ii, 18] 

Anti-Corn Law League : an English 
political society formed in 1838 to 
secure the repeal of the import duties 
on corn. 

Anti-Federalists : the precursors of the 
Democrats in American politics ; sup- 
porters of the rights of the States of 
the Federation. 

Anti-Jacobin : opposed to the Jacobins 
{q.v.). The Anti-Jacobin was the name 
of a weekly periodical founded by 
George Canning and Wm. Giffard in 

Anti-Masonry : opposition to free- 
masonry, the policy of a political 
party in the United States, during the 
second quarter of the 19th cent. 

Anti-Masque : a ridiculous interlude 
introduced into the Masque in the 
1 6th and 17th cents. 

Anti-Pamellites : the members of the 
Irish National Party who seceded and 
formed a new party in 1890 in conse- 
quence of the connection of their 
former leader Chas. Stewart Pamell, 
with the O'Shea divorce suit. 

Anti-Remonstrants : Irishmen who 
refused in 1666 to sign the remon- 
strance protesting against the theory 
that toleration of Catholicism was in- 
consistent with the security of the 
English State. 


Anti-Renter : one of the party of rebels 
in Albany, U.S.A. (1839-47), who took 
up arms in opposition to an attempt to 
collect overdue rents. 

Antic, An : Orig. a fantastic form found 
in class, sculpture. Subseq. (i) an 
archit. term to denote the grotesque ; 
(2) anything or anybody in any way 
grotesque ; (3) a ludicrous gesture or 
behaviour ; (4) a ludicrous per- 

Antic, To dance (To play the) : to behave 
like one of the comic characters that 
took part in the Anti-Masque (q.v.). 

Anticyra, Go to : Go to Bedlam (q.v.). 
From the city in Phocis, Greece, or 
that of the same name in Thessaly, 
both of which were noted for hellebore, 
the ancient remedy for madness. 

Antigone, The modern : Marie Th6rese, 
Duchess of Angoulfeme, daughter of 
Louis XVI of France, a name given to 
her by Louis XVIII. The original 
Antigone was the unhappy daughter of 
Oedipus, king of Thebes, and the 
subject of a tragedy of Sophocles. 

Antilegomena : the doubtful books 
included in the Canon of the New 

Antimacassar, An : a covering of a chair, 
etc., used as a protection. From Greek 
anti (against) and Macassar, the name 
of an oil. 

Antinous, An : a beautiful youth. From 
the najne of a youth of Bithynia who 
was a favourite of Emperor Hadrian. 

Antipodes : the land exactly opposite on 
the other side of the world ; its 
inhabitants. From Grk. anti (oppo- 
site), podos (a foot). 

Anti-Pope : a pope improperly elected 
and not generally recognized. 

Antonines, Age of the : the reigns of the 
Emperors Antoninus Pius and Marcus 
Aurelius ; the period of domestic 
tranquility in Roman history. 

Antnistion : one of the military house- 
hold or bodyguard of the Merovingian 
Frankish kings. 

Anxious bench. On the : in a state of 
great difficulty or depression. At 
Methodist and other religious revivals 
in the U.S. the anxious benches used 
to be set aside for those members of 
the congregation who had repented of 
their previous life and desired to be 
admitted to the Church. 

Anzac, An : an Australian or New 
Zealand soldier. From'jl.^i the initial 
letters of Austrcilian and New Zealand 

17 [Apocrypha 

Army Corps. Another derivation is 
from the Arab, anzak, to cause to 
jump, a suggested equiv. for kangaroo, 
a term applied to the first Australian 
soldiers in Egypt. 

Anziani : a council of the fourteen 
principal citizens (the Ancients) of 
Florence, appointed in the 13th cent, 
for the government of the State. 

Aonian : poetical. From Aonia, where 
the muses dwelt. 

Aonian Maids, The : the Muses. 

Ap- (Welsh, son) : found in compound 
names, e.g., Pryce-Ap-Ryce. 

Apache, An : a Parisian street-ruffian. 
From the name of a tribe of N. Amer. 

Apache State, The : Arizona. From the 
many encounters with the Apache 
Indians within its borders. 

Ape, An : a fool. From the early phrase 
' to put an ape into a person's hood,' 
i.e., to make a fool of a person. 
[Chaucer, Prioresses Prologue (14th 

Ape, To : to imitate ; as an ape 
imitates. [Massinger, City Madam, 
IV, iv (1632)] 

Ape-Carriei, An : a wandering bufEoon. 
There used to be formerly a calling of 
professional buffoon, whose assistant 
was an ape. 

Apes in Hell, To lead (of old maids) . 
from the monkish story that women 
married neither to God nor to man 
will be given to apes in the next world. 
See also Lead. [George Gascoigne, 
Workcs (1577) ; Lyly, Euphues and 
His England (1580) ; Shakespeare, 
Taming of the Shrew, II, i (?I596)] 

Ape's paternoster : chattering of the 
teeth, with fright or cold. 

Appelles, An: a great painter. From 
the name of the greatest painter of 
antiquity, [fi. c. B.C. 332]. 

Aphrodisiac : exciting sexual desire. 
From Aphrodite, one of the names of 
the Greek Goddess of Love. 

Apician : luxurious in food. From 
Apicius, a famous Roman epicure 
(ist cent.). 

Apicius, An : a gourmand. See Apician. 

Apocalypse : revelation. A name given 
to certain Jewish and Christian 
religious writings (B.C. 200-A.D. 300) 
which relate to the ' last things.' 

Apocalyptic Number, The : 666. 
{Revelations, xii, 18] 

Apocrypha : books whose inclusion in 
the canon of the Bible is questioned. 



Originally Heb. writings whose mean- 
ing is hidden. 

Apocrsrphal : of doubtful authenticity ; 
not to be taken literally. 

Apollo : the sun. From the name of the 
Sun-god in Grk. mythology. 

Apollo, An : an extremely handsome 
youth. From the Olympian god 
famous for his manly beauty. Also 
a banqueting-chamber. [Herbert, 

Apollo Belvidere, An : a handsome 
youth. The Apollo Belvidere is the 
famous statue of Apollo in the Vatican 
at Rome. (3rd cent. B.C.). 

Apollo of Portugal, The : Luis Camoens 
(1524-80), Portug. poet. 

Apollonize, To : to set oneself up as an 
authority on music, poetry, etc. From 
Apollo, the patron of music and 

Apollyon (Grk., destroying) : the Angel 
of the Bottomless Pit. [Revelations, 
ix, ri] 

Apostle : one of the original missionaries 
or messengers of the Gospel ; one of 
the twelve principal officers of the 
Mormon Church. 

Apostle Oems : jasper (St. Peter), 
sapphire (St. Andrew), chalcedony (St. 
James), emerald (St. John), sardonyx 
(St. Philip), camelian (St. Bartholo- 
mew), chrysolite (St. Matthew), beryl 
(St. Thomas), chrysoprase (St. Thad- 
deus), topaz (St. James the Less), 
hyacinth (St. Simeon), amethyst (St. 
Matthias) . 

Apostle of Andalusia, The : Juan de 
A Vila (1500-69). 

Apostle of the Ardennes, The : St. 
Hubert (d. 727). 

Apostle of Brazil, The : Jos6 de Anchieta 

Apostle of Culture : one who claims to be 
a judge of good taste. Prob. invented 
by Sir Francis Burnand in Punch 
(c. 1880). 

Apostle of the English, The : St. Augustine 
(d.c. 613). 

Apostle of Free Trade, The : Richard 
Cobden (1804-65). 

Apostle of the French, The : St. Denis 
(3rd cent.). 

Apostle of the Frisians, The : St. 
Willibrod (c. 657-738). 

Apostle of the Oauls, The : St. Irenaeus 
(c. 130-200). 

Apostle of the Gentiles, The : St. Paul. 

Apostle of Germany, The : St. Boniface 

18 [Appanages 

Apostle of the Highlanders, The : St. 

Columba (521-97). 

Apostle of the Indians, The : John Eliot 

Apostle of the Indies, The : St. Francis 
Xavier (1506-52). 

Apostle of Infidelity, The : Voltaire (1694- 
1778), Fr. philosopher. 

Apostle of Ireland, The : St. Patrick 

Apostle of the Iroquois, The : Fran9ois 
Piquet (1708-81). 

Apostle of laberty : see Liberty. 

Apostle of the New World, The : Jos6 de 
Anchieta (1533-97). 

Apostle of the North, The : Ansgar (9th 
cent.) ; Bernard Gilpin (1517-83). 

Apostle of the Peak, The : William 
Bagshaw (1628-1702), Eng. ejected 

Apostle of Peru, The : Alonso de 
Barcena (1528-98). 

Apostle of the Picts, The : St. Ninian 

Apostle of the Scots, The : John Knox 

Apostle of the Slavs, The : St. Cyril 
(c. 315-86). 

Apostle spoon : a spoon with a figure of 
one of the Apostles on the handle, 
given at baptisms in the i6th and 
17th cents. 

Apostle of the Sword, The : Mahomet, 
because he used his sword as an aid 
in his mission. 

Apostle of Temperance, The : Theobald 
Mathew (1790-1856), Irish Preacher. 

Apostles of Murder : Anarchists, 
Nihilists, or similar physical-force 

Apostles, Prince of the : St. Peter. 
[Matthew, xvi, 18, 19] 

Apostles, The Twelve {Camb. Univ.) : 
the last twelve candidates who ob- 
tained the ordinary B.A. degree when 
the candidates were still ranged in 
order of merit. Lat., post alios, after 
the others. 

Apostolic Fathers : the Early Christian 
Fathers, contemporaries of the 
Apostles. Clement of Rome, Barna- 
bas, Hermas, Ignatius and Polycarp. 

Apostolic Majesty : one of the titles of 
the King of Hungary, conferred by 
Pope Sylvester II in 1000 A.D. 

Apostolical succession : spiritual succes- 
sion by ordination from the Apostles. 

Appanages : in France, the lands held 
by the Crown for the benefit of the 
younger sons of the French kings ; in 


Russia, the imperial and grand ducal 

Apple with an Ave Maria : an unknown 
superstitious or magical practice. 
[Lyly, Eiiphues and His England 

Apple because of the core, To throw 
away the : to reject the good on ac- 
count of a slight blemish. [Bunyan, 
The Pilgrim's Progress (1678)] 

Apple-cart, To upset a person's : to 
disarrange his plans and frustrate his 

Apple, Dead Sea : a beautiful fruit that 
turns to ashes when bitten. From a 
fruit that grows on the shores of the 
Dead Sea. [Curzon, Monasteries of 
the Levant'^ Used metaphorically for 
hollow and unsatisfactory pleasures. 

Apple of Discord : a cause of dispute. 
The prize of Beauty, assigned by Paris 
to Venus, which was one of the ultimate 
causes of the Trojan War. 

Apple of one's eye. The : the pupil of the 
eye ; hence that which is specially 
prized. Perhaps from Coptic al-bal, 
the ball (of the eye). [Deuteronomy, 
xxxii, 10] [King Alfred, Gregory's 
Past. XI, 68 (885)] 

Apple John : a species of long-keeping 
apple which ripens about St. John's 
Day (May 6). It keeps for a very 
long time and consequently generally 

Apple-monger : a bawd. From the 
activity in the i6th cent, of fruiterers 
as go-betweens in the service of lovers. 

Apple of perpetual youth. The : the apple 
of Idun, wife of Bragi, in Scand. 

Apple, Prince Ahmed's : a universal cure. 
[Arabian Nights : Prince Ahmed] 

Apple of Sodom : see Apple, Dead Sea. 

Apple squire. An : a bawd ; an apple- 
monger {q.v.). * 

Apples to Alcinous, To give : ' to carry 
coals to Newcastle,' i.e., to perform a 
work of supererogation. The reference 
is to the fertility of the apple-orchards 
of Alcinous, King of Coreyra in 

Apples swim ! How we : An exclamation 
of self-congratulation by a pompous 
individual ; in allusion to the fable of 
the apples floating down the river 
supported by horse-dung. 

Apple-pie bed. An {Fr., nappe pliSe, a 
folded sheet) : a bed deliberately dis- 
ordered by folding up and over the 
lower sheet, a.s a practical joke. 

19 [April 

Another derivation is from ' apple 
turn-over,' a piece of pastry folded up 
and over from the sides. 

Apple-pie order : perfect and trim order. 
Several derivations have been given : 
(i) cap-a-pie order {Fr., de pied en cap) 
with reference to a fully caparisoned 
knight ; (2) A plis (in plaits), in neat 
and regular plaits ; (3) {Fr., nappes 
pliees, folded linen) neat as folded 
linen ; (4) ' Order is an old,word for a 
row, and a properly made apple-pie 
had, of old, always an order or row of 
regularly cut turrets, or an exactly 
divided border ' (Barrere and Leland) ; 
(5) alpha beta order, as orderly as the 

Apple-pie, To give a child : when correct- 
ing a child for sitting with one or both 
elbows on the table, the parent raises 
the arm and knocks it on the table. 

April and May, To smell of : to be young 
and of a courting age. 

April Fish, An : An April fool {q.v.), who 
is caught as easily as a fish. 

April Fool (Gowk) : the victim of a hoax 
on the 1st of April, a day on the fore- 
noon of which hoaxers have full 
licence. The custom originated in 
France, where in 1564 the beginning 
of the year was changed from the 
25th of March to the ist of January. 
In the earlier period New Year presents 
were exchanged on the ist of April. 
After the change people were made 
April fools by the pretence of giving 
them presents on the ist of April. Other 
derivations are : (i) from a mystery 
play performed at Easter, which fre- 
quently fell in April, in which Christ 
was depicted running fruitless errands ; 
(2) the alleged anniversary of the first 
return of the dove to Noah and the 
Ark ; (3) an echo of the Roman 
Cerealia which fell at the beginning of 
April. The story runs that Proserpina, 
playing in the Elysian meadows, was 
carried away to the lower regions by 
Pluto. Her mother, Ceres, hearing 
her voice, went on a fool's errand in 
search of it. 

April Fool's Day : the ist of April ; see 
April Fool. 

April gentleman. An : a newly-married 
husband, who has made himself by his 
marriage an April fool. 

April poetry : that in which the reader 
is kept in expectation of two good 
lines to come after twenty bad ones. 
[Dryden, Discourse on Satire] 


April squire. An : a newly-made squire ; 
a parvenu. 

Apron, Blue : see Blue. 

Apron, Oreen : a lay preacher. 
[Warren, Unbelievers (1654)] 

Apron-man, An : a mechanic. 

Apron-strings, Tied to the : under the 
influence of a wife, mother, or other 
female relative. 

Apron-strings Tenure : tenure in virtue 
of a wife. 

Apropos de Bottes (Fr., apropos of 
boots) : something unconnected with 
the preceding remarks. The sug- 
gested origin is as follows : — A French 
noble having lost a lawsuit, told the 
king, Francis I, that the court had un- 
booted him (I'avait ddboUd) instead of 
having decided against him {il avail 
iti dSboutf) . The error was due to the 
employment of Latin in the courts. 
The King reformed the practice, but 
the members of the bar, who were 
annoyed at the change, said that it was 
made apropos de bottes. [Lord Chester- 
field, Letters, II, No. 96 (1757)] 

Aqua Regia {Lot., royal water) : an acid 
capable of dissolving gold and platinum, 
the ' noble ' metals. 

Aqua Tofana : a colourless poison in- 
vented by a woman named Tofana of 
Palermo (d. 1730). 

Aqua Vitae {Lat., water of life) : strong 
spirits ; orig. used by the alchemists. 

Aqua Vitae Man, An : a dram-seller. 

Aquinian Sage, The : Juvenal (c. 55-135). 
the Roman satirist, who was born at 

Arab, An ; Arab, A street : a boy- 
frequenter of the streets. Orig. Arab 
{i.e., wanderer) of the City. 

Arabesque : fantastic ; of a style of 

Arabian bird. The : the phoenix ; a 
marvellous man ; something unique. 
[Histrio-mastix, III, i, 11. 2-4 {1610)] 

Arabian Night, An : a fabulous story ; 
from The Thousand and One Nights, 
usually called The Arabian Nights. 

Arachne, An : a spider ; a weaver. From 
the name of a Lydian maiden who 
competed with Minerva in needlework 
and was changed by her into a spider. 

Arachne's Art : weaving. 

Arachne's Labours : spinning or weaving. 

Arachnean : gossamer ; web-like. 

Arbor Day : a day set apart in the 
United States, Canada, Australia, and 
New Zealand for the planting of 

3 [Argo 

Arcades ambo {Lat., both Arcadians) : 
(of two people) both simpletons, 
innocents. See Arcadia. [Virgil, 
Eclogues, VII, 4 ; Burton, Anatomy of 
Melancholy (1621), to the Reader ; 
Byron, Don Juan (182 1) canto iv, 
St. 93] 

Arcadia ; Arcady : a Utopia of poetical 
simplicity and innocence. After a 
pastoral and mountainous district of 
the Peloponnesus (' the Greek Switzer- 

Arcadian ; Arcadio : rustic, simple, 
innocent. After the Arcadians, the 
least intellectual of the Greeks. 
' Arcadian poetry,' pastoral poetry. 
An ' Arcadian,' a shepherd. 

Arcadian nightingales : asses. [Rabelais, 
Pantagruel, V, 7, note] 

Arcadian youth. An : a simpleton. 
[Juvenal, Satires, VII, 159-60]. 

Arch Fiend, The : Satan. 

Arch Monarch of the World, The : 
Napoleon 111(1808-73) reigned 1852-70. 

Arches, Court of : an English ecclesi- 
astical court. From the original place 
of meeting, the Church of St. Mary-le- 
Bow, or S. Maria de Arcubus. 

Arches, Dean of the : Judge of the Court 
of Arches. 

Arched eyebrow. With an : with an 
expression either of (a) derision, or 
(6) horror, [(a) Pope, Epistle to 
Arbuthnot (1735) ; (6) Gray, Agrippina, 
Act I, sc. I (1742)] 

Archie ; Archy, An : a Court-fool. 
After Archibald Armstrong (d. 1672), 
Court-jester. [Ben Jonson, Staple of 
News (1625), III, 2] 

Archilochian bitterness, etc. : keen, 
stinging. After Archilochus, a Greek 
satirist (fl. 650 B.C.), 'The Swift of 
Greek Literature.' 

Architect, The Universal : God. [Cowley 
(1618-67), Essays, The Garden, III] 

Ardennes, The Boar of the : William de 
la Marck (d. 1485), Renaissance noble 
and soldier. On account of his resem- 
blsuice, both in appearance and 
manner, to a boar. 

Areopagrus : a tribunal of the highest 
rank. After the locale, the Hill of 
Ares, of the highest judicial Court in 

Argie-bargie, To : a portmanteau-word, 
made up of to argue and bargain. 
A Scotticism. [Crockett, The Raiders 
(1896), ch. 15] 

Argo, An {Grk.) : a ship sailing on an 
adventure. After the name of the 


vessel on which Jason sailed to Colchis 
in his search for the Golden Fleece. 

Argonaut, An : one who sails on a 
voyage of adventure. See Argo. 

Argonauts of Forty-Nino, The : the 
adventurers who settled in California 
on the discovery of gold there in 1849. 

Argosy, An : a large warship or richly 
laden merchant-ship. Formerly 
' Ragusy.' Either from (i) Ragusa, an 
Adriatic port ; or (2) the ' Argo ' (q.v.). 

Argumentum ad baculinum {Las.. argu- 
ment at the stick) : club-law. 

Argumentum ad hominem {Lat., argu- 
ment at the man) : an argument at 
the individual himself. [Locke, Essay 
on the Human Understanding, IV, 
xvii (1690)] 

Argumentum ad pocketum : an argu- 
ment addressed to the pocket. 
Pocketum is, of course, artificial Latin. 

Argus, An : a watchful guardian. After 
Argos. the hundred-eyed guardian who 
was set by Juno to watch lo. His 
eyes were transferred by Juno to the 
tail of the peacock. 

Argy-bargy, To : see Argie-bargie. 

Argus-eyed: vigilant. 

Ariadne, An : a devoted female lover. 
After Ariadne, daughter of Minos, 
King of Crete, who assisted her lover 
Theseus to escape from the labyrinth 
in which he had been confined. 

Ariadne, The thread of : the thread by 
which Ariadne enabled Theseus to 

Ai'iosto of the North, The : Sir Walter 
Scott. So-called by Byron in Childe 
Harold, canto IV, st. 40 (18 18). After 
Ariosto (1474-1533), author of Orlando 

Aristides, An : a man of inflexible im- 
partiality. After Aristides the Just 
(c. 530-468 B.C.), Athenian statesman 
and general. 

Aristides, The British : Andrew Marvell 
(1621-78), English poet and satirist. 

Aristides, The French : Albert Grevy 
(18 1 3-91), President of the French 

Aristippus, An : an advocate of luxury 
and self-indulgence. After the founder 
of the Cyrenaic sect of Greek 
philosophy (c. 435-356 B.C.). 

Aristocracy of Accident (of Nature) : the 
high-born, as distinguished from the 
high -principled low-born. [Harriet 
Martineau, Autobiography (1877)] 

Aristocracy of Labour, The : ' those 
(labourers) whose lives are industrious. 

[ [Arm's length 

temperate, and moral, and want only 
to be enriched by the culture which 
has hitherto been supposed to be the 
special possession of the better edu- 
cated.' Sir W. Besant, The Alabaster 
Box (1900). 

Aristocracy, The cold shade of: the 
unsympathetic patronage of the 
highly-placed. Term originated by 
Sir Wm. Napier in his History of the 
Peninsular War (1851). 

Aristophanes, The English : Samuel 
Foote (1720-77), comedian and drama- 
tist. After Aristophanes (c. 448-385 
B.C.), the greatest of the Greek 

Aristophanes, The French : Moli^re 
(1622-73), dramatist. 

Aristotle, An : a philosopher. After 
Aristotle (384-322 B.C.), known as the 
' Father of Greek Philosophy.' Some- 
times semi-ironically, e.g., ' The Aris- 
totle of the village.' [Mrs. Oliphant, 
The Cuckoo in the Nest, ch. 2 (1892)] 
Reverence for Aristotle is enshrined 
in Jewish and Yiddish literature and 
idiom, e.g., ' If I had Aristotle's head, 
I might be able to find out why my 
legs are inferior.' [I. Zangwill, 
Children of the Ghetto, Bk. I, ch. 2 
(1892) possibly on account of the 
popular Jewish belief that he was a 

Aristotle of China, The : Tehuke (d. 1200). 

Aristotle of Christianity, The : Thomas 
Aquinas (1224-74), Scholastic philoso- 
pher and theologian. 

Aristotle of the Nineteenth Century, The : 
George Leopold, Baron de Cuvier 
(1769- 1 832), French naturalist. 

Ark, To have come out of the (To have 
been bom in the) : to be very old- 
fashioned. In allusion to Noah's ark. 
[Sydney Smith (1768-1845), Memoir 


Arkansas Civil War : a dispute which 
developed into fighting between the 
supporters of rival candidates for the 
governorship of Arkansas in 1874. 

Arkansas tooth-pick. An : bowie-knife, 
as used in the State of Arkansas. 

Arm out further than one can draw it 
back again. To put one's : to over- 
reach oneself. [Sir W. Scott, Rob 
Roy, ch. 22 (1818)] 

Arm, The Secular : the authority of a 
secular or temporal tribunal, as distin- 
guished from ecclesiastical authority. 

Arm's length. At : at a short distance 
from . . ; on formal terms with. 


Arms, Passage of : a controversy, esp. 
between men of letters. 

Arms and the Man : a military hero. 
[Virgil, /Eveid, I, 1. i ; title of a play 
by Bernard Shaw (1898)] 

Arms of courtesy : with lances at the 
extremities of which a piece of round 
fiat board was fixed to avoid all 
danger except that from the shock of 
horses and riders. [Sir W. Scott, 
Ivanhoe, ch. 8 (1830)] 

Arms reversed. To have one's : to be 
dishonoured. [Sir W. Scott, Ivanhoe, 
ch. 24 (1830)] 

Arms, Up in : in a state of active indig- 
nation. [Burton, Anatomy of Melan- 
choly, To the Reader (1621)] 

Arms, VJith open : whole-heartedly ; 
cordially. [Sydney Smith, Peter 
Plymley's Letters, V (1808)] 

Armada, An : any great fleet of war- 
ships. After the Spanish Armada sent 
by Spain against England in 1588. 

Armageddon, An : any wide-spread and 
bloody battle ; the site of such a 
battle. After the name of the place of 
the great battle which is to precede 
the Resurrection {Rev., xvi, 16) ; 
possibly connected with Megiddo, a 
battle-field in Palestine. 

Armagnac War, The : the war between 
the Emperor Frederick III and the 
Swiss in 1444. On account of the 
number of Armagnac mercenaries in 
the Imperial armies. 

Armagnacs, The : the party of the 
Orleans princes in the French Civil 
War of 1410. After Bernard, Count 
Armagnac (d. 14 18), one of the leaders. 

Armed Man, The : Death. [Dekker, 
The Seuen Deadly Sinnes : Crueltie 

Armed Neutrality : action just short of 
war by a neutral power in time of war, 
jealous of its rights and anxious to 
safeguard them. The first Armed 
Neutrality was formed under the lead 
of Russia in 1780 and directed against 
England, at war with France, Spain, 
and the United States. 

Armed Soldier of Democracy, The : 
Napoleon I. 

Armed to the teeth : heavily armed. 

Armida, The Garden of : gorgeous 
luxury. After Armida, a beautiful 
sorceress in Tasso, Jerusalem Delivered, 
who enticed, by means of her charms 
and her luxuries, Crusaders from their 
duty. [R. L. Stevenson, Familiar 
Studies : S. Pepys (1888)] 

I [Arviragus 

Arminians : (i) the followers of Jacob 
Harmensen Arminius (1560-1609), who 
led a secession from the Calvinist 
Church in Holland ; (2) the English 
High Church Party in the reign of 
Charles I. 

Amauts : the Albanians. So-called by 
the Turks. Lit., brave men. 

Arras : tapestry-hangings. After Arras, 
in N. France. 

Arridre Ban : see Ban. 

Arrive pens6e. An: {Fr., back thought) : 
an unstated motive ; a mental 

'Arry (and 'Arriet) : 'Arry as the type of 
the good-natured, easy-going, but 
vulgar, flashy, and loud-mouthed 
costermonger, who drops his h's and 
is usually seen with his 'Arriet on 
Sunday afternoons and Bank Holidays, 
was the creation of Edwin J. Milliken, 
the Punch artist. 'Arry on 'orseback 
in Punch's Almanac for 1874 was 
'Arry's d6but. 

Arsie-versie : upside-down. [N. Udall, 
Erasmus' Apophthegmes (1542)] 

Art and part of . . (in . . ) ^ ^^ essential 
part of . . [Huxley, Life and Letters, 
Vol. I, p. 237 (1862)] 

Arts, The Seven : arithmetic, geometry, 
astronomy, music, logic, rhetoric, 
grammar. [Hisirio-mastix, I, i, 6 

Artful Dodger, An : one who combines 
considerable skill with disingenuous- 
ness. After the nickname of John 
Dawkins, a boy pickpocket in Dickens, 
Oliver Twist (1838). 

Arthur's : a London club-house, founded 
in 1765. After the keeper of White's 
Chocolate House, who had died four 
years previously. [A. Murphy, Three 
Weeks After Marriage, Act II (1776)] 

Articles, Lords of the : the Committee 
which prepared measures for sub- 
mission to the Scottish Parliament. 

Articulo mortis. In {Lot., at the point of 
death) : in the last throes of death. 
[Estate of English Fugitives, p. 75 

Artillery of Heaven, The : thunder and 
lightning. [Shakespeare, Taming of 
the Shrew, I, ii, 205 (1596-7] 

Artists, The Prince of : Albrecht Durer 
(1471-1528), Germ, painter. 

Arviragus, An : a husband whose sense 
of honour leads him even to sacrifice 
his wife. After a character in Chaucer, 
Franklin's Tale, derived from Boc- 
caccio, Diavora and Gilberto. 


' As in praesenti * (Propria quae maribns). 
To learn one's : to be starting on the 
rudiments of some study. These 
portions of sentences are, respectively, 
the first words of the parts of the old 
Eton Latin Grammar which treat of the 
conjugation of verbs and the genders 
of nouns, the sentences being As in 
praesenti perfectum format in avi {As 
in the present forms its perfect in avi), 
and Propria quae maribus. 

Ascapart, An : a giant. After a giant 
' ful thyrty fote long ' in the ballad of 
Sir Bevis of Southampton. [Shakes- 
peare, 2 Henry, II, iii (4to) (? 1592-4)] 

Ascii [Grk., shadowless) : the inhabitants 
of the Tropical Zone. 

Ascrsean Poet (Sage), The : Hesiod (fl. 
859-824 B.C.), who was born at Ascra 
in Boeotia. 

Asculnm, An : a Cadmean victory {q.v.), 
a victory that brings no advantage. 
After the victory of Pyrrhus over the 
Romans at Asculum (Ascoli) B.C. 278. 

Asgard : the abode of the gods, in Scand. 
mythology. ' As ' was one of the 
major gods. 

Ash Pole, The : selected in 1828 as the 
symbol of the American Whig party. 
After Ashland, Henry Clay's plantation 
nr. Lexington, Kentucky. The Demo- 
cratic symbol was Hickory [q.v.). 

Ash Wednesday : the first day in Lent. 
From the Roman Catholic practice of 
sprinkling ashes on the heads of peni- 
tents, the priest saying : ' Remember, 
man, that thou art ashes, and unto 
ashes thou shalt return.' "The practice 
was abolished early in the reign of 
Edward VI. 

Ashes, As pale (white) as : very pale. 

Ashes in the mouth. To turn to : to prove 
a great disappointment on realization. 

Ashes, To recover the : to win in a return 
contest, after a previous defeat. A 
cricketing metaphor, derived from a 
mock epitaph published by the 
Sporting Times in August 1882 on the 
final defeat of the English team by the 
Australians. ' English cricket . . 
which died at the Oval, August 29, 
1882 . . the body will be cremated and 
the ashes taken to Australia.' 

Ashlanders : a political club identified 
with Ashland Square, in Baltimore. 

Ashkenazim : Jews who follow the Germ, 
or N. European ritual, as distinguished 
from the Sephardim, who follow the 
Span, ritual. From Ashkenaz (Med. 
Heb.), Germany, after Ashkenaz the 

23 [Ass 

son of Gomer (identified or confused 
with Germany). [Genesis, x, 3] 

Asian Mystery, The : Lord Beaconsfield. 
So described by Beresford Hope in 
1867 in the debate on the Reform Bill, 
in allusion to his Hebrew extraction. 

Aside, To go : to absent oneself. 
[Terence in English (1614)] 

Asiento {Span., agreement) : permission 
granted by Spain to England, Portugal, 
and France to trade in slaves with 

Asinego (Asinigo) : see Assinego. 

Asked in Church, To be : to have the 
banns of marriage put up in church. 
[Wily Beguiled, 1. 1515 (1606)] 

Asking, To be had for the : to be had 
very cheaply. [Susan Ferrier, In- 
heritance, ch. 18 (1824)] 

Asmodeus : the destroyer of domestic 
happiness. From the Heb. demon 
who, according to the Book of Tobit, 
destroyed Sara's seven husbands in 

Asmodeus flight. An : from the flight of 
the demon Asmodeus in Le Sage, Le 
Diable Boiteux (1726), in which the 
interiors of the houses were laid bare 
as he passed over them. 

Aspasia, An : a fascinating courtesan. 
After the mistress of Pericles. 

Aspen leaf. An : one who is always 
chattering. After the aspen-leaf, 
which, from the nature of its formation, 
is almost invariably quivering. To 
' tremble like an aspen-leaf ' is to 
tremble violently. [Chaucer, Troilus 
and Creseide, Bk. Ill, 11. 1200-1 
(c. 1380)] 

Ass ascends the ladder, Until the : i.e., 
never. A rabbinical saying. 

Ass, Burial of an : no burial at all. 
[Jeremiah, xxii, 19] 

Ass, To come from a horse to an : to 
descend in the social or financial scale. 

Ass to a horse. To go from an : to ascend 
in the social or financial scale. 

Ass in a lion's skin. An : a coward who 
attempts to bully ; a fool who pretends 
to be wise. From the fable of the ass 
concealed in the lion's skin that was 
betrayed by his bray. 

Ass of oneself. To make an : to behave 
foolishly. ' Ass ' was a generic term 
for a stupid person even in the early 
Greek period. 

Ass, To give straw to one's dog and 
bones to one's : see Straw. 

Ass, To mount the : to become bankrupt. 
From the French custom in the i6th 


cent, of mounting a bankrupt on an 
ass with his face to its tail. 

Ass, To seek wool on an : see Wool. 

Ass, To shave an : see Shave. 

Ass with two panniers. An : a man 
walking between two women. Faire 
le panier cl deux dnes, to put one's 
arms akimbo ; lit., to make with 
one's arms a basket with two 

Ass' Bridge ; Pons Asinorum : the 5th 
proposition of ist Book of Euclid ; 
owing to the difficulty found by begin- 
ners in mastering it. 

Ass' shadow, To wrangle for an : to 
quarrel or argue about a trifle. From 
a story told by Demosthenes. 

Assassin, An : a secret murderer, esp. of 
a public personage. The Assassins 
were a fanatical Moslem sect, which fl. 
in Persia and Syria from nth to 14th 
cent. One of their doctrines was the 
assassination of all opponents. Their 
chief was Sheikh-al-Jabal, the chief 
(Old Man) of the Mountain. 

Assassins commencent I Que Messieurs 
les (i'V., Let the assassins begin !) : 
the remark made by Alphonse Karr 
(1808-90) on the proposal to abolish 
capital punishment. 

Assault and battery : attack on the per- 
son with injury. When the hurt 
is inflicted the battery is committed. 
[Bartholomew Faire (1641)] 

Assault-at-arms, An : an exhibition of 
miUtarj' skill. 

Assaye Regiment, The : the 74th Regt. 
of Foot, now the and Highland Light 
Infantry. From its gallantry in the 
Battle of Assaye (1803). 

Assays, At all : at all hazards ; prepared 
for anything that may happen. 
[Stubbes, Two Wonderful and Rare 
Examples (1581)] 

Assiento : see Asiento. 

Assignat, An : paper-currency issued by 
the 1st Revolutionary Government in 

Assinego (Asinego), An {Port., a little 
ass) : a fool, a silly fellow. [Shakes- 
peare, Troilus and Cressida, II, i, 49 

Assize of Arms, An : a universal military 
levy for national defence. Instituted 
by Henry II in 1181. 

Assize of Bread, The : regulation of the 
price of bread. Instituted by Henry 
III in 1266. 

Assize, The Last : the Last Judgment ; 
the Day of Doom. 

34 [Athanasius 

Assizes of Jerusalem, The : the code of 
legislation adopted by the Crusaders 
for Palestine in 1099. 

Assizes, The Bloody : see Bloody. 

Associated Counties, The : Norfolk, 
Suffolk, Essex, Hertford, Cambridge, 
Huntingdon, and Lincoln, which com- 
bined in 1642-6 to keep the Civil War 
outside their boundaries. 

Assume the mantle of. To : to adopt the 
manners or responsibilities of . . In 
allusion to the mantle of Elijah 
to which Elisha succeeded. 

Astolpho's book. Like : purveying uni- 
versal knowledge. In Ariosto, 
Orlando Furioso, Astolpho is one of 
Charlemagne's paladins. 

Astolpho's horn. Like a blast firom : 
causing terror. From the horn given 
to Astolpho by Logistilla in Orlando 
Furioso, which, when blown, created 
a panic. 

Astreea : equity ; innocence. The name 
of the Greek goddess of Justice. 

Astreea, The Divine : Mrs. Aphra Behn 
(1640-89), Eng. dramatist, poetess and 
novelist. So called by herself. 

Astronomer of Dublin, The : the head of 
the most prominent rebel or traitor 
mounted on a stake, in the City of 

At stake. To be : to be in jeopardy. 

Atalanta, An : a girl swift of foot. After 
a maiden in Grk. legend, who used to 
race with suitors for her hand. 

Atalantis, An : a scandalous narrative. 
After the title of a chronique scandal- 
euse by Mrs. Manley (1709). 

Atchison, An : a coin. Thomas Atchi- 
son was assay-master at the mint at 
Edinburgh during the reigns of Mary 
and James VL His name was given 
to the base-metal coins that were then 
in circulation and which were in the 
year 1587 ' cryed down by Proclama- 
tion, because counterfeit in England 
and other foreign parts.' 

Ateliers Nationauz : national workshops 
established for the unemployed by the 
French government in 1848. 

Atellan Fables : farces in ancient Rome 
performed by amateurs. After Atella 
in the Romagna. 

Athanasius contra mundum {Lat., A. 
against the world) : one against an 
enormous majority. In allusion to 
Athanasius (293-373), one of the most' 
illustrious defenders of the Christian 
Faith, and author of the Athanasian 


Athenseum : a literary or scientific 
institution. After the Athenaion, the 
Temple of Athene, at Athens. A 
school or university called the 
Athenaeum was founded at Rome by 
Emperor Hadrian. 

Athenian Bee ; Bee of Athens, The : see 

Athens of America, The : Boston, 
Massachusetts, the literary capital of 
the U.S. 

Athens of England, The : Melton 

Athens of Ireland, The : (i) Cork ; (2) 

Athens of Scotland : Edinburgh. 

Athens of Switzerland, The : Zurich. 

Athens of the New World : Boston, 
Mass., literary capital of the U.S. 

Athens of the North, The : (i) Edin- 
burgh ; (2) Copenhagen. 

Athens of the South, The : Nashville, 
Tennessee, U.S. On account of the 
number of its educational institutions. 

Athens, The Thief's : the Orisons. 

Athens of the West, The : Cordova, the 
intellectual centre of Spain from 8th 
to 13th cent. 

Athens, The German : Saxe-Weimar. 

Athens, The Modem : (i) Edinburgh ; 
(2) Boston, Mass, U.S. ; (3) Weimar. 

Athens, The Mohammedan : Bagdad, in 
the period of Haroun al Raschid. 

Atlantean shoulders : powerful shoulders. 
After Atlas {q.v^. [Milton, Paradise 
Lost, II, 300 (1667)] 

Atlantes : figures of men used as supports 
in architecture ; see Atlas. 

Atlantic Greyhounds : fast liners plying 
between Europe and America. 

Atlantis : the legendary ' lost continent ' 
in the Atlantic Ocean ; mentioned by 
Plato and other early writers ; the site 
of the Elysian Fields. 

Atlantis, The New : an island, the home 
of a philosophical commonwealth 
devoted to the cultivation of the 
natural sciences, the product of Lord 
Bacon's imagination. 

Atlas, An : a book of maps. After the 
mythical King of Mauretania, Atlas, 
who was said to support the world on 
his shoulders, an illustration of whom 
appeared on the title-page of old 

Atlas shoulders : s«e Atlantean shoulders. 

Atomy, An : a dwarf or deformed 
person. A contraction of anatomy 
iq.v.). [Shakespeare, 2 Henry /F, V, 
iv {1597-8)] 

25 [AttUa 

Atonement : complete a^eemeut and 
harmony ; the condition of being at 
one with others : at-one-ment. 

Atra cura {Lat., black care) : intense 
anxiety. [Horace, Odes, III, i] 

Atropos : that one of the Fates who used 
to sever the thread of human life. 
Atropine, the alkaloid poison, is named 
after her. 

Attalus, The wealth of: unbounded 
riches. After Attalus I, King of 
Pergamum (241-197 B.C.). [Horace, 
Odes, Bk. I, i. 11 -3] 

Attendance on. To dance : to be at all 
times at the service of another. 
[Heywood, Proverbes (1546)] 

Attic : (i) classical ; of elegant literary 
style ; from the Grk. State Attica, 
whose capital was Athens ; (2) the top 
storey of a building with sloping roof. 
Originally, the room enclosed by the 
Attic architectural decoration. 

Attic Bee, The : (i) Sophocles (495-406 
B.C.). the Grk. tragic poet ; (2) Plato 
(427-347 B.C.), the Grk. philosopher. 

Attic Bird, The : the nightingale ; 
because Philomel was the daughter of 
the King of Athens. [Milton, Para- 
dise Lost, Bk. rV, 1. 244 (1667)] 

Attic Boy, The : Cephalos, beloved by 
the Morn. 

Attic Faith : inviolable faith. 

Attic Muse, The : Xenophon (c. 435-354 
B.C.), the Grk. historian. On account 
of the elegance of his style. 

Attic Salt : delicate wit. In both Greek 
and Latin, salt was a synonym for w it. 
The Athenians were noteworthy for 
their wit. 

Attic storey. In the : in the head. A 
metaphor drawn from architecture. 

Attic Warbler, The : the Attic Bird {q.v.). 

Attic Wit : see Attic Salt. 

Atticus, The Christian : Reginald Heber 
(1783-1826), Bp. ol Calcutta, poet and 
hymn-writer. The original Atticus 
(109-32 B.C.) was reputed to be the 
most elegant and finished scholar of 
the Romans. 

Atticus, The English : Joseph Addison 
(1672-1719), Eng. essayist. So called 
by Pope. 

Atticus, The Irish : George Faulkner 
(1699-1775). So-called by Lord 

Attila, An : one who commits brutal 
atrocities. After Attila, ' The Scourge 
of God,' King of the Huns, who 
ravaged the Roman Empire in 5th 
cent. See also Hun, 


Attorney-General of the Lantern, The : 

Camille Desmoulins {1762-94), French 
Revolutionist. In allusion to his 
practice of indiscriminately condemn- 
ing political opponents to be hanged 
from street-lamps. 

Attorney-General's Devil, The : the 
Junior Counsel to the Treasury. See 
Devil for . . (To). 

An courant {Fr., in the current) : con- 
versant with. 

An fait {Fr., in the fact) : expert, well- 
acquainted with . . [Horace Walpole, 
Letters, II (1748)] 

Au grand s6rieux : see S6rieux. 

Au pied de la lettre (Fr., at the foot of the 
letter) : strictly, literally. [Horace 
Walpole, Lexers, VIII, (1782)]. 

Au revoir! {Fr., until seeing you again) : 
farewell for the present ! [17th cent.] 

Aubade, An [Fr.) : a morning serenade 
or concert. In early Fr. poetry, a love- 
song sung at dawn. 

Audience to . . To give : to listen to . . ; 
to grant an interview to another for 
the purpose of hearing his views. 

Audit-ale : ale brewed for Audit days 
at Trinity College, Cambridge and 
other colleges. 

Audley (a matter). To John (Lord) : to 
bring it to a close. In the i8th cent. 
Shuter, manager of a travelling 
theatrical company, was accustomed 
to spin out the performance until an 
audience sufficient to fill the theatre 
again had collected ; whereupon a boy 
in front called out ' John Audley,' and 
the performance inside was brought to 
a rapid close. 

Audley over. To come Lord : to gull, 
deceive. Possibly from Mervin, Lord 
Audley, who was hanged for stealing 
in 1 63 1. See also the previous en- 

Auf Wiedersehen I {Germ., Until seeing 
you again !) : Farewell for the 
present ! 

Auge of . . In the : in the highest 
pitch. From ' auge,' the highest point 
in the course of the sun, the moon, or 
a planet. 

Augean task. An : an extremely difficult 
task. See Augean Stables. 

Augean Stables, To cleanse : to perform 
a dirty or unpleasant task which has 
long called for attention. After the 
stables of Augeas, King of the Epeians, 
in Elis. The cleansing of them, after 
30 years' of neglect, was one of the 
Labours of Hercules. 

26 [Aolio 

Augmentation Office, The : the office in 
which the records of the Augmentation 
Court (estab. by Henry VIII) were 
kept after its dissolution by Queen 
Mary. The Court's function was to 
decide claims against monasteries and 
abbeys. The name was derived from 
its augmentation of the royal 

Augur, To ; Augur, An ; Augury, An : 
(a) to foretell, esp. by omens ; (6) a 
prophet from the Roman College of 
Augurs who foretold events from the 
flight of birds and other signs ; (c) 
an omen. 

August : (i, pronounced Aug'ust), the 
8th month, named in honour of 
Emperor Augustus, whose lucky month 
it was ; (2, pron. aug-ust'), inspiring 
respect, majestic ; also after Augustus. 

Augusta : the Roman name for London. 

Augustan Age, The : the greatest literary 
period in the history of a people. After 
the reign of Emperor Augustus, the 
greatest period in Latin literature. 

Augustan Age of England, The : (i) the 
reigns of Elizabeth and James I ; (2) 
the reigns of William III and Anne. 

Augustan Age of France, The : that of 
Louis XIV. 

Augustan Age of Germany, The : the 
nineteenth century. 

Augustan Age of Portugal, The : that of 
Don Alphonso Henrique. 

Augustine, The Second : Thomas 
Aquinas (1224-75). St. Augustine, 
the greatest of the Latin Fathers, 
lived from 353 to 430. 

Augustus, An : a great king whose reign 
confers peace and prosperity on his 
people. After the title of the first of 
the Roman emperors. 

Auld Farrant-like ; Auld Farrand : 
{Scottish) : old-fashioned ; possessing 
the attributes of age. 

AuldHomie {Scottish) : Satan ; in allusion 
to his horns. From representations of 
the heathen god Pan. 

Auld Lang Syne : lit., old long since ; 
past times. [Title of a song by 
Robert Burns (1788)] 

Auld Reekie : ' Old Smoky,' a name for 
Edinburgh. On account of the clouds 
of smoke that so often appear above it. 
Originally the name of the old town 

Aulic Council, The : the supreme Council 
of the Holy Roman and subsequently 
of the Austrian Empires. -Estab. in 


Aunt, An : a prostitute or procuress. 
[Shakespeare and his contemporaries.] 

Aunt Sally, An : an object put up to be 
aimed at. From the popular name of 
a cockshy at a fair, race-course, etc. 
Earlier, a black-faced doll used as a 
sign of a rag-shop. From Black Sal, 
a character in Pierce Egan, Life in 
London (1821). 

Auri sacra fames [Lat., accursed (sacred) 
hunger for gold) : overpowering desire 
for wealth. [Virgil, Mneid, III, 57] 

Aurora : the dawn. After the Roman 
goddess of the Dawn. 

Aurora's Tears : the morning dew. 

Ausgleich, An {Germ.) : an agreement 
between Austria and Hungary, that 
was renewable every ten years, for the 
settlement of economic, financial, and 
other differences between the two 

Austerlitz, The Sun of : a symbol of good- 
fortune. In allusion to the sun that 
dispersed the clouds on the morning 
of the Battle of Austerlitz (Dec. 2, 

Austrian Leeds, The : see Leeds. 

Austrian lips : the thick under-lip 
characteristic of the Hapsburg family, 
that of the Austrian emperors, said to 
have first appeared in the family in 
the person of Emperor Maximilian I. 

Aut Ceesar aut nullus (Lat., either Caesar 
or nobody) : everything or nothing. 
It was Caesar who said, ' Sooner first 
in a village than second in Rome.' 

Author of Evil, The : Satan. 

Authentic Doctor, The : Gregory of 
Rimini (d. 1358), Scholastic philoso- 

Authorized Version, The : the English 
translation of the Bible of 161 1 : 
' King James' Version.' 

Autocrat, The ; Autocrat of all the 
Russias, The : the Tsar of Russia. 

Autocrat of the Breakfast Table, The : 
Oliver Wendell Holmes (1809-94), 
American man-of-letters. It forms the 
title of his most popular book. 

Auto-da-fe ; Auto-de-f6 {Port., act of 
faith) : the public sentence and 
execution of one condemned to death 
by the Spanish or Portuguese 

Auto^CUS, An : a witty, not too honest, 
pedlar. After a character in Shakes- 
peare, Winter's Tale (161 1). In Grk. 
legend, a famous thief. 

Automedon, An : a coachman. After 
Achilles' charioteer. 

27 [Ayrshire 

Avatar : the appearance on earth of a 
deity. Hindu mythology. 

Ave Bell : see Ave Maria Bell. 

Ave Maria, An : a prayer to the Virgin 
in the Roman Catholic Church : its 
two first words are ' Ave Maria,' 
' Hail, Mary.' 

Ave Maria Bell : the bell that summons 
to prayer when the Ave Maria is said. 

Avernus : hell. After a lake in the 
Roman Campagna, said to be the 
entrance to the Infernal Regions. 

Avignon Captivity, The : the period of 
the residence of the Popes at Avignon 
under the control of the French kings, 
A.D. 1305-77. 

Avoirdupois : the general English 
standard of weight. Old-Fr., aveir de 
peis, goods of weight. 

Awful Unnamable, The : God. so-called 
by Thomas Carlyle {Heroes and Hero 
Worship, lect. VI). 

Awkward Squad, An : an untrained 
party ; a squadron or party of un- 
trained or insufficiently-trained 

Awls and be gone. To pack up one's : to 
make a complete and permanent 
departure. Either from ' all,' every- 
thing ; or from ' awl,' the shoe- 
maker's tool. 

Axe after helve. To send : to throw good 
money after bad. [John Heywood, 
Proverbes (1546)] 

Axe on the helve. To put the : to have 
solved a difficulty. 

Axe to grind. To have an : to have a 
personal end to serve. From the 
American backwoodsmen's practice of 
calling at houses ostensibly to grind 
an axe but in reality to obtain a drink. 
Based on a story told by Charles 
Miner (1780-1865), 'Who'll turn the 
grindstone ? ' in the Wilkesbarre 
Gleaner of 181 1, of a man who, by 
flattery, induced a boy to turn the 
grindstone while he sharpened his axe. 

Axe, To hang up one's : to retire from 
business ; an allusion to the battle- 
axe of the passe warrior. 

Axe, To open a door with an : see Open. 

Ayankeeados : Mexican sympathizers 
with the U.S. during the war between 
the two countries in 1846. 

Ay-ma ; Ay-mee, An : a lamentation. 
A corruption of ' Ah me.' [Beaumont 
and Fletcher, Tamer Tam'd, III, i 

Ayrshire Poet, The : Robert Bums 
(1759-96), bom near Ayr. 


Azazel : the scapegoat ; on which the 
sins of the Jewish people were laid 
by the High Priest. Properly, a name 
of Satan. 

Azrael, The Angel of: the angel that 
separates the soul from the body at 
the moment of death. 

Azrael, The Wings of : the coming of 

B. and S. : brandy and soda, as a drink. 

The initial letters. 
B from a battledore. Not to know a : to 

be quite illiterate or stupid. A battle- 
dore was a hom-book from which 
children were taught the alphabet. 
[John Halle, Historiall Expostulation 

B from a bull's foot. Not to know a : to 

be quite illiterate. In allusion to the 
supposed resemblance of a bull's 
parted hoof to the letter B. [Pol. 
Poems, II, 57 (A.D. 1401)] 

B-flat, A ; a bug. On account of the 
flatness of these insects. 

B's, The Four : blood, brains, brass 
(impudence), brads (money). An 

B, Marked with a : of little value. Owing 
to the coincidence that in French many 
physical defects are expressed by 
words beginning with the letter B, e.g., 
bigle, squint-eyed ; borgne, one-eyed ; 
hossu, humpty. 

Baal, A : a false god. The name of the 
principal god of Canaan. 

Babel, A : a confusion of tongues, an 
uproar. After Babel, the tower of 
which the building was interrupted by 
the miraculous confusion of tongues. 
(Genesis, ix). [Bartholomew Faire 

Babel, A Tower of : a lofty structure ; 
a visionary scheme. 

Babes in the Wood : (i) a pair of harm- 
less but ill-used orphans, a boy and a 
girl ; (2) rebels who infested the 
woods of Wicklow and Enniscorthy in 
the 1 8th cent. ; (3) men confined in 
the stocks. From characters in an old 
pathetic ballad so-entitled. 

Babies in the Eyes : the reflection of 
oneself in a lover's eyes. [Drayton ; 
Herrick ; possibly alluded to by 
Shakespeare, Timon of Athens, I, ii. 

Babu ; Baboo : a semi-educated Hindu ; 
an Indian clerk. Now the Hindu 
equivalent of Mr. or Esquire. 

28 [Back 

Babylon, A : any luxurious and magnifi- 
cent capital city ; esp. Rome and the 
Vatican. After the capital of the 
ancient Empire of Chaldsa. 

Babylon, The Modem : (i) London ; 
(2) the Church of Rome. 

Babylonian Numbers : astrology : 
attempts to foresee the future. The 
Chaldseans of Babylon were devoted 
to magic. 

Babylonish Captivity, The : the period of 
residence of the Popes at Avignon 
{see Avignon Captivity). Properly, 
the exile of the Jews in Babylon, from 
the time of Nebuchadnezzar to that 
of Cyrus. 

Baca, A Valley of : a place or period of 
depression. [Psalm Ixxxiv, 6] 

Bacchus : wine. After the Grk. god 
of wine. 

Bacchus, A Son (Priest) of : a drunkard. 

Bachelor girl, A : an unmarried girl who 
lives away from home, either in 
apartments or at a club. 

Bachelor, To be a lady's : to act as 
knight to a lady. 

Bachelor President, The : James 
Buchanan (i 791 -1868), 15th President 
of the U.S. 

Bachelor's buttons. To wear : to be un- 
married. From the superstition 
attached to the campion-flower 
(' bachelor's button '), which was 
supposed to have a magical effect on 
the fortunes of lovers. [Thos. 
Hey wood, Fair Maid of the West 

Bachelor's fare : bread, cheese and 

Bachelor's wife, A : the ideal wife. 
[John Heywood, Proverbes (1546)] 

Back, To : to bet or wager on. From 
the commercial practice of backing, or 
endorsing, a bill or cheque on behalf 
of another. 

Back and edge : completely. The back 
and the edge comprise the whole of 
the knife, etc. [Lady Alimony, III, 
vii (1659)] 

Back, Behind a person's : surreptitious- 
ly ; in his absence ; without his 
privity. [Lilly, Campaspe, IV, i 

Back, To cast behind one's : to reject. 
[Nehemiah, ix, 26] 

Back down. To : to yield, submit. 
Perhaps a metaphor drawn from the 
game of leap-frog. 

Back, To give a person the r to turn 
away from. 


Back into . . To put one^s : to put the 

whole of one's energy into . . 

Back (neck) of . . To break the : to 
perform the essential, usually the 
hardest, part of . . 

Back Number, A : a person whose ideas 
or methods are out of date. A 
journalistic metaphor. 

Back of . . To ride on the : to deceive. 
[I'hc Wizard (1640)] 

Back of . • To see the : to complete (a 
task) ; to see the last of (a person). 
As if it (or he) had gone away from 

Back on . . To turn one's : to throw 
over . . ; to give up, withdraw from . . 

Back out of . . To : to withdraw from . . 

Back, Thrown on one's : completely 
defeated. A wrestling metaphor. 

Back to the wall. To have one's : to 
stand at bay, facing odds. The 
natural desire in such circumstances is 
to have the back protected. 

Back up . . To : to support . . as if 
standing behind. 

Back up. To get a person's : to arouse his 
active opposition. From the cat's 
habit of raising its back when faced 
by an opponent. [Dame Huddle's 
Letters (1710)] 

Back-bite, To : to slander or speak ill 
of a person in his absence. Lit., to 
bite a person in the back. [Proverbs, 
XXV, 23 ; Cott. Horn. 205 (1175)] 

Back-door : clandestine. Since begin- 
ning of 17th cent., when it wais possible 
to gain one's way at Court by under- 
hand intrigue. [Shakespeare, 
Cymbeline, V, iii, 45 (161 1)] 

Back-friend, A : a false friend, or secret 
enemy. [Falkland, The Marriage 
Night, III, i (1664)] 

Back-hand, To hold a person's : to 

Back-hander, A : a blow with the back 
of the hand ; an unexpected rebuff. 

Back-lane Parliament, The : an assembly 
of Irish representatives in 1792, which 
requested the grant of the franchise. 

Back-rag (rack) : a German wine. From 
Bacharach, where it was grown. 

Back-seat, To take a : to withdraw into 
a less prominent position. The phrase 
was popularized by Andrew Johnson 
(President of the U.S.) in 1868. 

Back-sheesh : see Bakshish. 

Back-slide, To : to deteriorate or fall 
away morally. 

Back-stairs influence : secret, underhamd 
influence. From the private stairs of 

29 [Badge-men 

some palaces which could be secretly 

Backward blessing, A : a curse. Accord- 
ing to superstition to recite the Lord's 
Prayer backwards was to incite evil. 

Backbone: (i) firmness of character; 
steadfastness ; (2) the main support. 
Metaphorical use of backbone as 

BadEfish, A (Germ., Backfisch, fish for 
frying) : a girl of about 16 or 17. 

Backwoodsmen : reactionary members 
of the House of Lords who very seldom 
attended its sittings but were always 
available when needed to outvote the 
advocates of reform. 

Bacon, To baste a person's : to thrash 
him. From the Norman habit of 
calling the Saxons ' hogs.' 

Bacon, To save one's : to rescue oneself 
from an awkward situation. [Peter 
Pindar, The Lousiad, II (1786)] 

Bacon of Theology, The : Bishop Joseph 
Butler (1692-1752), author of Analogy 
of Religion. After Francis Bacon 
(1561-1626), the intellectual giant. 

Baconian, A : one who holds that Francis 
Bacon, Lord Verulam, wrote the works 
attributed to Shakespeare by almost 
universal consent. This contention 
is called ' The Baconian Theory.' 

Baconists : the Liberal Party in Virginia 
and in Maryland at the end of the 17th 
cent. After Nathaniel Bacon (1642- 
76), The Virginia Rebel. 

Bactrian Sage, The : Zoroaster (gth 
cent., B.C.), the founder of the Magian 
religion. He was bom in Bactria. 

Bad blood : ill-feeling. [Brother Jonathan, 
I. 74 (1825)]. 

Bad books. In a person's : see Books. 

Bad cess to you I : ill-luck attend you ! 
Irish ' cess,' board and lodging. 

Bad debt, A : an unrecoverable debt. 

Bad egg, A : see Egg. 

Bad form : behaviour not in accordance 
with etiquette. A metaphor derived 
from the racing-stable. 

Bad hat. To be a (shocking) : see Hat. 

Bad Lands : a desolate region in the 
North -West of U.S. 

Bad, To go to the : to degenerate, 
deteriorate ; to fall away in the 
direction of ruin. 

Badge of poverty. The : in reference to 
the badge at one time borne by those 
who received parish relief. 

Badge-men : licensed beggars. In 
allusion to the badge formerly worn by 
inmates of almshouses. 


Badger, To : to annoy, to worry ; as a 
badger-hunter treats a badger. 

Badger State, The : Wisconsin. From 
the badger on its coat of arms. It is 
said that this emblem is derived from 
the habit of the early miners in the 
State, who in the winter lived in the 
earth like badgers. 

Badger, As uneven as a : very uneven. 
From the vulgar error that the two 
right legs of a badger axe shorter than 
the left. 

Badinguet : Napoleon III. After the 
name of the workman in whose clothes 
he escaped from prison at Ham in 

Badminton : (i) a drink made of claret ; 
(2) a game played with battle-dores 
and racquets, after Badminton, 
the seat of the Dukes of Beaufort, 
where it was introduced ; (3) blood 
(a pugilistic term), after Henry 
Somerset, 7th Duke of Beaufort 
(1792-1853), a patron of the prize-ring. 

Bag and baggage : originally all the 
property of an army. [Rymer, 
Foedera, X (1422)]. ' Bag ' was an 
allusion to the soldier's receptacle for 
his portable property ; ' baggage ' was 
the term used for the female followers 
of an army, either from the baggage 
wagons in which they rode or from 
Ital. bagascia, harlot. 

Bag and baggage. To march out with : 
(of an army) to withdraw honourably 
with all its impedimenta ; (of an 
individual) to be turned out with all 
his belongings. 

B{« and baggage policy. The: the 
policy advocated by W. E. Gladstone 
in 1876-78 of the expulsion of Turkish 
rule from Europe. [Speech of 7th 
May, 1877] 

Bag and bottle provisions : cf. Ballad of 
Robin Hood and the Shepherd. [Ful- 
well. Like Will to Like, 1. 559 (1568)] 

Bag of tricks. The whole : everything. 
From the fable of The Fox and the Cat. 

Bag, The bottom of the : the last resource. 

Bag, To empty the : to tell the whole 
truth. Fr., vider le sac, to expose 
everything to view. 

Bag-man, A : a commercial traveller of 
an inferior class. From the practice 
of carrying samples in a bag. 

Bag-of-bones, A : an emaciated person. 

Bagatelle, A (mere) {Ital, bagatella, a 
little property) : a trifle. 

Baggie, A : a disreputable woman. 
[Shakespeare, Taming of the Shrew 

30 [Balaam 

(?i596)] ; a young woman, in a 
famiUar sense. [Davenant, The Witts 
(1636)] See Bag and baggage. 
Baily's Beads : the appearance of the 
sun (like a string of beads) when an 
eclipse reduces it to a thin disc. After 
Francis Baily (1774-1844), by whom 
the resemblance was first pointed out. 
Baiting-stock, A : a laughing-stock ; an 

object to be baited. 
Bainlus, A : a pedagogue. After an 

officer of the Greek Imperial Court. 
Baker, The ; Baker's Wife, The : (a) 
Louis XVI ; (b) Marie Antoinette. 
From the trade in com conducted in 
the environs of their palace at 
Baker, To meet a splay-footed : to receive 

a warning of ill-luck. 
Baker, To spell : to undertake a difficult 
task. In the old spelling-books 
' baker ' was the first word of two 
Baker's dozen, A : thirteen. Pedlars 
in bread were formerly supplied with 
thirteen loaves for the price of twelve, 
the additional loaf representing their 
profit. Another derivation gives a 
' Devil's Dozen ' as an equivalent, 
thirteen being the quorum at a 
Witches' Sabbath. (Bakers were 
formerly very unpopular and as a 
sign of their unpopularity ' Baker ' 
was substituted for ' Devil.') It is 
also said that to avoid the risk of 
giving short weight (an offence former- 
ly visited with heavy punishment) 
bakers were accustomed to give 
thirteen loaves for twelve. 
Baker's dozen. To give a : to give a 
sound threishing (more than was 
expected) . 
Bakshish ; Baksheesh ; Backsheesh 
[Persian, bakhshidan, to give alms) : a 
tip or bribe, in Moslem countries. 
Balaam (Balaamite), A : one who 
approves when he is expected to dis- 
approve ; one who makes a profit out 
of his religion. After the prophet 
whose story is told in Numbers, xxii- 
Balaam : (journalistic) odds and ends of 
' copy ' used to complete columns in a 
newspaper. Possibly from the prophet 
on the asumption that, like Balaam's 
ass, these odds and ends are of little 
Balaam Box (Basket), A : a receptacle 
for odds and ends of ' copy ' for which 
a use may be foimd. See previous entry. 


Balaam's Ass, A : a servant who is more 
far-seeing than his master. From the 
story of Balaam and his ass. [Numbers, 

Balaam's Blessing, A : an intended curse 
that becomes a blessing. [Ibid.] 

Balance and to be found wanting, To be 
weighed in the : to fail when tested. 
From the writing on the wall at Bel- 
shazzar's Feast. [Daniel, v, 27] 

Balance, Not to go above the : to 
reverence justice ; for neither fear nor 
flattery to lean to anyone partially. 
[Lyly, Euphues : 7 he Anatomy of 
Wit (1579)] 

Balance of Power, The : military and 
naval equilibrium between the ' Great 
Powers ' of Europe. [London Gazette, 
No. 3758 (1701)] 

Balance of Trade, The : the difference 
between the value of the imports into 
and the exports from a country. 
[Child, Discourse on Irade (1668)] 

Balance, To be thrown off one's : to be 
taken at a disadvantage through 

Bald as a coot. As : very bald. In 
allusion to the absence of feathers 
from the front portion of the head of a 
coot. [Tyndale, Works, II, 224 (1530)] 

Baldachin ; Baldaquin : a canopy-like 
structure ; a canopy over the altar or 
over the Holy Sacrament when 
carried in procession. From Bagdad, 
the source of the silk of which the 
canopies were made, through Ital., 
baldacco and baldacchino. 

Bale out the sea. To : to undertake a 
useless task. 

Balkanize, To : to split up into small 
and mutually hostile states, such as 
those of the Balkan Peninsula. Term 
introduced during the discussion of the 
treaties that concluded the European 
War of 1914-18. 

Ball, A : a dancing-party. From the 
early practice of combining a game of 
ball with the dancing, derived from the 
game of ball played in church by the 
Dean and choir-boys of Naples during 
the Feast of Fools. 

Ball at one's feet. To have the : to have 
a desired opportunity at hand. A 
football metaphor. [Bunyan, The 
Holy War, (1682)] 

Ball before the bound. To catch (take) 
the : to anticipate an opportunity. 
A ball-game metaphor. [Howell, 
Familiar Letters, Bk. I, §4, Letter ix 

3 1 [Balmy 

Ball of Fortime, To be the : to be subject 
to the fluctuations of fortune, tossed 
about as is a ball. 

Ball on the bound. To catch the : to 

seize an opportunity that offers itself. 
A ball-game metaphor. 

Ball rolling. To keep the : to prevent 
an enterprise, conversation, etc., from 
coming to a standstill. From the 
game of Bandy, or of Lacrosse. 

Ball, To be a tennis- : to be bandied 
about by other people, as if 
one were a tennis-ball. [Warner, 
Albion's England, VI, xxx, 151 

Ball one's own way. To have the : to 
do oneself a good turn. 

Ball, To open the : to start an enterprise. 
A dancing metaphor. 

Ball under the line. To strike the : to 
fail. A tennis metaphor. [John Hey- 
wood, Proverbes (1546)] 

Ball up. To keep the : to prevent a 
conversation from flagging or a move- 
ment from coming to a standstill. A 
ball-game metaphor. 

Balls, Three Golden : the sign of a 
pawnbroker. From (i) three purses 
of gold, the emblem of St. Nicholas ; 
or (2) the arms of the Medici family 
(three golden pills, referring to the 
origin of the family name from 
medicus, physician) ; or (3) the balls 
of the mace of the giant Mugello, 
killed by Averardo de Medici, one of 
the Knights of Charlemagne. 

Ballambangjan, Straits of : a sailor's 
term for a region of incredible 

Ballast, A man of no : a man of no 
stability. From the unsteadiness of a 
ship deficient in ballast. [Bacon, 
Essays : Vainglory (161 2)] 

Ballon d'Essai, A [Fr., a trial balloon) : 
a proposal or scheme put forward to 
test public opinion or interest. 

Ballot-box, To stuff the : to obtain false 
returns at an election by means of a 
fraudulent ballot-box. 

Ballplatz, The : the Foreign Office of the 
late Austro-Hungarian Government. 
From the name of the street in Vienna 
in which it was situated. 

Ballyrag, To : see Bullyrag. 

Balm in Gilead : a soothing agency or 
influence. [Jeremiah, viii, 22] 

Balmoral, A : a Scotch cap. After the 
royal residence in Scotland. 

Balmy : sleepy. Frequently misused 
for Barmy {q.v.). 


Balmy stick. To put on the : to feign 
madness. Prison slang. See Barmy. 

Baltimore, A ; Baltimore bird, A : a 
North American bird with plumage of 
the same colours as the arms of Lord 
Baltimore, founder of Maryland. 

Baits : inhabitants of the Baltic 
provinces of Russia, i.e., Esthonia, 
Livonia, Courland. 

Bambocciades : pictures of low-life. 
From Pieter van Laer (1613-73) 
{bamboccio, Ital. for ' cripple '), who 
first painted such pictures. 

Bamboozle, To : to deceive by a trick. 
A slang word, possibly of gipsy origin, 
introduced into the English language 
about 1700. [The Taller, No. 230; 
Colley Cibber, She Would and She 
Would Not, II. i (1703)] 

Ban, Arri&re : a proclamation of the 
French kings, summoning to military 

Banal : commonplace. From Ban, the 
service imposed on subjects in mediae- 
val France. 

Bananaland : Queensland. On account 
of the number of bananas grown there. 

Banbury, As wise as the Mayor of : very 
foolish. The Mayor is reputed to have 
held that Henry III preceded Henry II. 

Banbury cheese, As thin as a : Banbury 
cheese was reputed to be the thinnest 
of poor cheese. [Shakespeare, Merry 
Wives of Windsor, I, i (1598)] 

Banbury, As drunk as a tinker at : the 
allusion is unknown. {The London 
Chanticleers, V (1659)] 

Banbury Man (Saint), A, : a Puritan. 
Banbury was a centre of Puritanism 
in the i6th and 17th cents. 

Banda Oriental : the former name of 
the Republic of Uruguay. 

Bandbox, As neat as a : as neat as clothes 
packed in a bandbox. 

Bandbox, To look as though one had 
stepped out of a : to be very trim and 
dapper. See previous entry. 

Bande Noire {Fr., black band) : (i) 
certain regiments in the French service 
in the i6th cent. ; (2) speculators who 
bought Church property and confis- 
cated estates in the course of the 
French Revolution and acted as 
vajidals in their treatment of buildings 
of archaeological value. 

Bandy, To : to exchange (words, blows, 
etc.). A metaphor drawn from the 
game of tennis, formerly called Bandy. 

" Bang went saxpence I '' : a reference 
to the proverbial meanness (? frugality) 

32 [Banyan 

of the Scots. Immortalized by Charles 
Keene in Punch. Originally overheard 
by Sir John Gilbert as passing the 
lips of a recently arrived visitor from 
Glasgow who complained of the ex- 
travagance of London. 

Banian : see Banyan. 

Banjo A : a stringed musical instrument. 
From Pandoura, a Greek stringed 
instrument named after the god Pan. 

Bank Holiday, A : a general holiday on 
which banks are compelled by Act of 
Parliament to close. 

Bank, In : in hand- Lit., readily 
available at one's bank. [Vanburgh 
and Cibber, The Provoked Husband, 
III, i (1728)] 

Bank, Sisters of the : loose women who 
frequented the Bankside {q.v.). 

Bank, To break the : to be so successful 
in gambling as to exhaust, temporarily, 
the resources of the director of the 

Banks's Horse : a performing horse 
belonging to a man named Banks 
between 1590 and 1601. Both the 
horse and its owner are said to have 
been burnt ultimately by the Inqui- 
sition at Rome. 

Banker Poet, The : (i) Samuel Rogers 
(1763-1855), English poet; (2) Ed- 
mund Clarence Stedman (1833- 1908), 
American poet. 

Bankside : the Southern bank of the 
Thames between Waterloo and Black- 
friars Bridges, the resort of women of 
loose character. 

Banshee, A {Gaelic, bean sidhe, woman- 
fairy) : an Irish spectre believed to 
warn certain Irish families of ap- 
proaching death. 

Bant, To : to practise the banting 
system (q.v.). 

Bantam-weight, A : a boxer not ex- 
ceeding 8 St. 4 lb. in weight. After 
the bantam, a small variety of fowl, 
hence anything below the average in 
height or weight. 

Bantijag System, The : a system for 
reduction of corpulence by dieting. 
After Wm. Banting (1797-1878), for 
whom it was prescribed by William 
Harvey and by whom it was recom- 
mend«i to the public in A Letter on 

Banyan (Banian) Days : days on which 
meat is not eaten. After Banian, a 
native class in India, whose members 
abstain from eating meat, holding 
anim£il-life sacred. 


Banyan Hospital : a hospital for animals. 
See previous entry. 

Baptism of fire : the first occasion on 
which a soldier goes under fire ; an 
introduction to any situation of danger. 
Used by Napoleon at St. Helena 
(Aug. 2, 1817). [O'Meara. Voice from 
St. Helena] 

Ear, To pitch the : to exaggerate. 
[Spectator, Nov. 17, 1712] 

Bar, To pitch over the : to discard as no 
longer of use. [Sir Thos. Overbury, 
Characters: A Meere Petty f agger (161 6)]. 

Bar, A trial at : a trial before a full 
bench of judges. 

Bar sinister, A : a device in heraldry ; 
erroneously considered an indication 
of illegitimate birth. Properly the 
bar drawn the reverse way, i.e., from 
right to left. 

Barabas, A : a thief. After the criminal 
who was pardoned on the occasion of 
the Crucifixion. 

Barathron ; Barathrum : hell ; a deep 
pit. After a pit at Athens into which 
criminals were thrown. 

Barbadoes Leg : a form of elephantiasis. 
After the island in the West Indies, 
where it is prevalent. 

Barbarossa [Lat., red-beard) : the 
Emperor Frederick I (i 121-90). On 
account of his red beard. 

Barbary : North Africa generally. Grk., 
Darbaria, land of barbaroi (foreigners). 

Barbary Latin : uncultured Latin as dis- 
distinguished from literary Latin. The 
Latin of the Roman colonies in N. 

Barbecue, A : {Haytian, barbacoa, ' a 
framework of sticks set upon posts.' 
E. B. Tylor). (i) a frame for roasting 
or drying large joints of meat ; (2) 
an animal roasted whole ; (3) an open- 
air entertainment at which animals 
are roasted whole ; (4) the wooden 
framework of a bed. 

Barber Poet, The : Jacques Jaomin 
(1798- 1 864), Provencal poet who was 
also a barber. 

Barber-shop, Forfeits in a : barber-shops 
were formerly places of popular resort ; 
and, in order to preserve order among 
the company, forfeits were inflicted. 
[Shakespeare, Measure for Measure, 
II, ii (?i6o3)] 

Barber's chair. As common as a : which 
was proverbial for giving accommo- 
dation to anybody. 

Barber's news. As true as : untrust- 
worthy. Barbers' shops have, since 



Roman times, been the centres of 
gossip and rumour. [Middleton, The 
Roaring Girle, III, iii (161 1)] 

Bard of all times. The : William 
Shakespeare (1564-1616). 

Bard of Avon, The : William Shakes- 
peare (i 564-161 6), bom at Stratford- 

Bard of Ayrshire, The : Robert Bums 
(1759-96), born at Alloway in Ayrshire. 

Bard of Hope, The : Thomas Campbell 
(1777-1844), author of The Pleasures 
of Hope. 

Bard of the Imagination, The : Mark 
Akenside (1721-70), author of Pleasures 
of the Imagination. 

Bard of Memory, The : Samuel Rogers 
(1763-1855), author of The Pleasures 
of Memory. 

Bard of Olney, The : William Cowper 
( 1 73 1 - 1 800) , who lived at Olney, Bucks. 

Bard of Prose, The : Giovanni Boccaccio 
(1313-75), author of The Decameron. 

Bard of Rydal Mount, The: WilUam 
Wordsworth (1770- 1850), who lived 
at Rydal Mount, near Grasmere. 

Bard of Twickenham, The : Alexander 
Pope (1688- 1 744), who lived at 
Twickenham, on the Thames. 

Bare as one's nail. As : penniless. 
[Fulwell, Like Will to Like (1568)] 

Bare Poles : a man at the end of his 
resources. From a sailing-vessel in a 
gale sailing under bare masts. 

Barebones Parliament : Cromwell's 
' Little Parliament ' of 1653. After 
one of its prominent members, 
Praisegod Barebones (Barbon). 

Bargain, A wet : a bargain sealed by the 
parties to it drinking together. 

Bargain, Into the : in addition. [Dryden, 
Sir Martin Marr-all, II, i (1668)] 

Bargain, To make the best of a bad : to 
reconcile oneself to ill-luck or mis- 
fortune and take whatever little 
advantage it may oflfer. 

Bargain, To sell a : to return a coarse 

Bargain, To strike a : to come to an 
agreement. [Bp. Hall, Cases of 
Conscience (1650)]. From the practice 
of striking or shaking hands on the 
conclusion of a bargain. 

Bargains for. More than one : more than 
one has expected. 

Bargain-penny : money in part payment 

when a bargain is made. 
Bargain-Saturday, A : a day appointed 

for the hiring of servants at fairs. 
Bark and flee. To : to hasten to min. 


Bark and the tree. To put the hand 
between the : to interfere in matters 
which do not concern one, esp. 
between husband and wife. [Lyly, 
Euphues and his England (1580) ; 
John Heywood, Proverbes (1546)] 

Bark at the moon, To : (i) to labour in 
vain ; (2) to speak ill of one's superiors. 
{Paston Letters, No. 296 (1456)] 

Bark to be worse than the bite. The : 
said of a person prone to ill-speaking 
but not ill-doing. 

Bark up the wrong tree. To : to strive 
towards a mistaken object ; to adopt 
means unlikely to attain to the desired 
end. Based on an American racoon - 
hunting anecdote. 

Barker, A : a pistol ; which ' barks ' 
when it is fired. 

Barker's knee, As stiff as : after one 
Barker, who rashly declared that he 
did not believe in the existence of 
knockers (sprites that haunt the tin- 
mines of Cornwall). He was waylaid 
by knockers as a punishment and 
permanently injured. 

Barkis is willin' : a phrase used to denote 
willingness to agree if asked to do so. 
It was the repeated message of Barkis, 
a character in Dickens, David Copper- 
field (1849), in offering marriage to 

Barkshire : Ireland. From Bark, an 

Barley-bree : strong ale. 

Barley in a brubde. To cry : to ask for a 
truce. The phrase is derived from 
children's games in Scotland. 

Barley-cap, A : a tippler ; one into 
whose head barley-bree has risen. 

Barleycorn, John : (1) the personification 
of malt liquor ; hence (2) an inn- 
keeper. From the song Sir John 
Barleycorn (1651). 

Barmecide, A : one who arouses one's 
expectations without satisfying them. 

Barmecide's Feast : an empty meal or 
illusory benefit. One of the Barme- 
cides (rulers of Bagdad) is said to have 
invited a beggar to a banquet, the 
dishes at which were without excep- 
tion empty when the covers were 
removed. {The Barber's Sixth 
Brother in The Arabian Nights'] 

Barmy : slightly insane. A corruption of 
St. Bartholomew, the Patron Saint of the 
insane. See also Balmy ; Balmy-stick. 

Bamaby thistle, A : a thistle which 
flowers about the nth of June, St. 
Barnabas' Day. 

34 [Bartholomew 

Bamaby-bright : St. Barnabas' Day. 
June nth, according the Old Style 
the longest day. 

Barnacle, A : (i) a species of Arctic 
goose ; (2) a shell-fish which attaches 
itself to the bottom of a ship or other 
object floating on the sea ; hence (3) 
a person who attaches himself to 
another against his wish, or a man who 
clings to office although no longer 
serving a useful purpose. The 
barnacle-goose was popularly supposed, 
on account of the similarity of the 
name, to be produced out of the shell- 
fish. [Dekker and Webster, Northward 
Ho, III, i (1607)] 

Barnacle Tite, A : an official steeped in 
forms and precedents and bound 
round with red tape. After a character 
in Dickens, Little Dorrit (1855). 

Barnburners, The : the Radical wing of 
the Democratic Party in New York in 
the middle of the 19th cent. Origin- 
ally the participants in the " Dorr 
Rebellion " of 1842 who were accused 
of burning bams and other offences. 

Barnstormer, A : a second-rate travelling 
actor. Dates back to the time when 
travelling companies often gave their 
performances in bams. 

Bamumese : an exaggerated journalistic 
style. After Phineas Taylor Bamum 
(1810-91), American showman. 

Baron of Beef, A : the two sirloins 
joined by the end of the backbone. 

Barragouin : gibberish. Breton, bara, 
bread and gwenn, white. On account 
of the surprise expressed by Breton 
soldiers at seeing white bread. [Sir 
Thos. Overbury, Characters : A Meere 
Common Lawyer (1616)] 

Barratron (um) : see Barathron. 

Barrell's Blues : the King's Own (Royal 
Lancaster) Regiment form, the 4th 
Foot. After William Barrell, their 
colonel (1734-9), and the colour of 
their facings. 

Barrier Treaty, A : a treaty fixing 
national boundaries ; esp. the treaty 
of 1715 between Austria, Gt. Britain 
and the Netherlands, fixing the 
boundary between the first and third 
of these Powers. 

Barriers, To fight at : to fight within 
lists. [Lyly. Euphues and His 
England (1580)] 

Bartholomew Baby (doll), A : (i) a doll ; 
(2) an overdressed woman. From 
Bartholomew Fair at West Smithfield, 
at which these dolls were sold. 



Bartholomew Pig, A : a fat person. 
After the roast pigs that were sold at 
Bartholomew Fair. 

Bartholomew, A Saint : a massacre 
of heretics or nonconformists to the 
prevalent faith. After the massacre 
of the French Huguenots which com- 
menced on St. Bartholomew's Day 
in 1572. 

Bartholomew's Day : 24th August, the 
festival in honour of the Apostle 
Bartholomew. In England celebrated 
by a great fair at West Smithfield, 
from 1 133 to 1855. 

Bartholomew-tide : Bartholomew's Day. 

Bartolist, A : a learned French lawyer. 
After Bartole (1313-56), an Italian 
jurist with a great reputation among 
French lawyers. 

Bas Bleu, A (/■>.) : a Bluestocking {q.v.). 

Base, To bid a : to run away while 
encouraging pursuit. From the rustic 
game ' base ' or ' prisoners'-base.' 

Bashaw, A Three-taUed (Arabic, pasha, 
a high official) : a Turkish Pasha of 
high rank, bearing three horse-tails on 
his standard. 

Bashi-Bazouk (Turk., one whose head 
is turned) : (i) a Turkish irregular 
soldier ; (2) a ruffian ; from the 
atrocities committed by Bashi- 

Basilisco, A : a braggart. After a 
character in Solyman a7id Perseda 

Basilisco-proof : shameless, unabashed. 
From the basilisco (basilisk), a 
fabulous reptile, whose mere look was 
fatal to the beholder. 

Baskerville, A : an edition of a book 
printed by John Baskerville (1706-75), 
a Birmingham printer. 

Basket, To be left in the : not to be 
selected ; like the worst of the apples. 

Basket to . . To give a : to refuse to 
marry. From the German practice of 
fixing a basket on the house of a 
rejected lover. 

Bason, To beat the : to attract 
attention to another's disgrace. From 
the practice of the mob in preceding 
a cart containing criminals and other 
bad characters and beating basins, 
etc., in order to attract a still larger 

Baste a person's jacket. To : to thrash 

Bastille, A : a State prison in which 
political prisoners are incarcerated. 
After the French State-prison, which 


was attacked by the mob at the out- 
break of the French Revolution. In 
English use in 14th cent. 
Bastinado (Span., bastonada) : punish- 
ment of beating on the soles of the 
feet, practised by the Chinese, Turks, 
Persians, etc. 
Bat, Off one's own : by one's own sole 
exertions ; without assistance. A 
cricket metaphor. 
Bat, To carry one's : to be still ' in,' 
i.e, undismissed, when the innings is 
brought to a conclusion ; to succeed 
in an undertaking by tiring out all 
opposition. A cricket metaphor. 
Bat, As warm as a : bat in South 
Staffordshire is that slaty coal which 
will not bum. 
Bat-fowling : swindling. [Dekker and 
Webster, Westward Ho, V, iii (1607)] 
Bate, Clean at the : at loggerheads. 
[R. Wever, Lusty Juventus, I, 480 
(c. 1560)] 
Bath ! Go to : an exclamation of dis- 
missal addressed to people who behave 
foolishly. From the former practice 
of sending insane people to Bath for 
the benefit of their health. 
Bath, Order of the : a British Order of 
knighthood, derived from the cere- 
monial bath formerly taken before the 
conferment of the honour. Instituted 
Bath of Blood, The : (i) the massacre of 
the Huguenots at Vassy in France, in 
1562, by order of the Duke of Guise ; 
(2) the massacre of seventy Swedish 
nobles, in 1520, by order of Christian II 
of Denmark. 
Bath, The King of : Richard Nash (Beau 
Nash) ( 1 674-1 761), for many years 
Master of Ceremonies at Bath and a 
typical ' buck.' 
Bath, The Maid of : Miss Linley, who 
afterwards married Sheridan (1751- 
Bathing to steal clothes. To catch : see 

Batrachomyomachia (Grk., battle of the 
frogs and mice) : much excitement 
over a trivial matter. From the title 
of an early Greek mock-heroic poem. 
Battels : college-accounts, esp. for food. 

University of Oxford. 
Batter-fanged : beaten ; torn with the 

nails. [Taylor, Works (1630)] 
Battersea to be cut for the simples. To go 
to : addressed to a stupid person. 
The London apprentices used formerly 
to make an excursion to Battersea to 


see the medicinal herbs (simples) cut 
by the market-gardeners of the 

Battle of the Books, A : a controversy 
between literary men. After the title 
of a satire by Swift {1697). 

Battle of Flowers, A : an incident in 
many Carnivals, in which the partici- 
pants pelt one another with flowers. 

Battle of the Frogs and Mice : see 

Battle of the Giants, The : the Battle of 
Marignano (15 15), between Francis I 
of France and the Swiss under the 
Duke of Milan. Because on both sides 
there were mighty men of valour, who 
fought like giants. 

Battle, Half the : the greater or more 
difficult part of an undertaking. 

Battle of the Nations, The : the Battle of 
Leipzig (Oct. 16-19, 181 3), in which 
French, Prussians, Austrians, Russians, 
Swedes, Saxons, etc., took part. 

Battle of the Three Emperors, The : 
Austerlitz (Dec. 2, 1805), in which 
Napoleon, the Emperor of Russia, and 
the Emperor of Austria took part. 

Battles over again, To fight one's : to 
narrate one's exploits to an admiring 
circle. [Sophocles, Antigoite, 11. 1286-8] 

Battle royal, A : a free fight, in which 
more than two combatants are en- 
gaged. Originally a cock- fighting term. 

Battle, The British Soldiers' : the Battle 
of Inkerman (Nov. 5, 1854), in which, 
in consequence of the disorder, the 
soldiers had to fight for the most part 
deprived of the leadership of their 

Battle-bom State, The : Nevada, which 
was admitted into the Union in the 
midst of the American Civil War. 

Battledore, To say Bee to a : see Bee. 

Banbee t see Bawbee. 

Bauble, To deserve the : to act very 
foolishly. After the bauble, the 
emblem of office of the professional 

Bavius, A : an incompetent poet. From 
The Baviad, a satire on the poetry of 
the Delia Cruscan School (^.t;.) by 
William Gifford (1756-1826). Also the 
name of two Roman poets who were 
immortalized on account of their bad 
verses by Virgil and Horace, respec- 

Bawbee, A : a halfpenny. Originally a 
Scotch coin of the value of a halfpenny. 
Probably derived from an early mint- 
master, the Laird of Sillebawby. 

36 [Bay-leal 

Bawcook, A : a good fellow. Possibly 
from Fr., beau coq, fine cock, or from 
boy and cock. [Shakespeare, Henry V, 
III, ii (1599)] 

Bawtry who was hanged for leaving his 
liQuor, Like the saddler of : criminals on 
the way to execution were accustomed 
to stop at a tavern in York to partake 
of a parting draught. According to a 
Yorkshire proverb a saddler of Bawtry 
declined to do so and in consequence, 
failed to escape hanging. A short 
delay would have enabled his reprieve 
to arrive in time. 

Bay : fame and glory. From the wreath 
of bay-leaves placed on the head of a 

Bay State, The : Massachusetts. After 
the original name of the colony, 
Massachusetts Bay. 

Bay, To wear the : to be the recipient of 
honour, see Bay. 

Bays, The Queen's : the 2nd Dragoon 
Guards. From the colour of their 

Bayard, A : (i) a man of courage and 
honour, after the Chevalier de 
Bayard, ' sans peur et sans reproche ' 
(1473-1524) ; (2) a valuable horse, 
after Baiardo, Rinaldo's horse, in 
Ariosto, Orlando Furioso (15 16). 

Bayard, As bold as blind : of a person 
who acts hastily and without due 
consideration. [Langland, Piers 
Plowman (1362) ; Chaucer, Canon's 
Yeoman's Tale, Pt. II (14th cent.)] 

Bayard of the Confederate Army, The : 
Robert Lee (1807-70). 

Bayard in the stable. To keep : to keep 
close guard over one's valuables. 
[John Heywood, Proverbes (1546)] 

Bayard of the East, The : Sir James 
Outram (1803-63). 

Bayard of India, The : Sir James Out- 
ram (1803-63), so-called by Sir Charles 

Bayard often toes. To ride : to go on foot. 

Bayard of the Indian Army, The : Sir 
James Outram (1803-63). 

Bayard of Nations, The : Poland. 

Bayard, The British : Sir Philip Sidney 

Bayard, The Polish : Prince Joseph 
Poniatowski (i 763-1814). 

Bayard's bun : bread given to horses. 
After Bayard, the horse. See 
Bayard (2). 

Bay-leaf eater, A : a poet. See Bay, 
To wear the. [Dekker and Webster, 
Northward Ho, V, i (1607)] 


Bayonet, A : a blade attached to a rifle. 
From (i) Bayonne, in France, where 
bayonets were first made ; (2) Bayon- 
netta, in the Basque province, whose 
troops improvised them in the course 
of a battle in 1647. 

Bayou State, ITie : Mississippi. From 
the number of bayous or marshy 
creeks along its coast. 

Bayreuth Festival : the musical festival 
held annually at Bayreuth for the 
representation of Wagner's operas. 

Bayreuth Hush : intense silence. From 
the silence that precedes the opening 
of a Wagner Festival at the Bayreuth 
Opera House. 

B.C., Marked with : dismissed from the 
Army with a ' bad character.' From 
the mark formerly set against a 
soldier's record in such circumstances. 

Beachcomber, A : in Australasia, a 
vagrant who lives on the sea-shore ; 
earlier, a European settler on one of 
the Pacific Islands ; still earlier, a 

Bead on . . , To draw a : to attack. 
Orig., to fire at, the foresight of many 
rifles being of the ' bead ' pattern. 

Bead, To raise a : to bring to the point ; 

to assure success. Metaphor drawn 

from strong spirits which will not 

raise a bead ' unless of sufficient 


Beads, St. Blartin's : see St. Martin's 
' BeaJds. 

Beads, To bid : to count the beads on a 
rosary. Originally, to say prayers. 
See Bead roll. 

Beads, To count one's : to say one's 
prayers. From the Roman Catholic 
practice of telling beads while at 

Beads, To pray without one's : to lose 
one's bearings. 

Bead-folks : pensioners who offer prayers 
on behalf of their benefactors. See 
Bead-roll. [Interlude of Calisto and 
Meliboea (1530)] 

Bead-roll, A : a list of persons ; origin- 
ally of persons to be prayed for. 
Saxon bead or bede, a prayer. 

Beadsman, A : one who prajrs for 
another ; a pensioner ; an inmate of 
an almshouse. See Bead-roll. 

Beak, A : a magistrate. From the 
beag (gold collar) worn by that officer, 
Formerly the same word was used for 
a constable. 

Beam in one's eye. To have a : to have a 
fault in one's own character ignored 

37 [Beanfeast 

in one's desire to discover a much 
smaller fault (a mote, speck) in an- 
other's. [Cf. Matthew, vii, 3] 

Beam, To kick the : to be wholly out- 
weighed. Properly, of one scale of a 
balance being so lightly loaded that it 
flies up and strikes the beam of the 

Beam-ends, To be thrown on one's : to 
be reduced to one's last resource. A 
nautical metaphor. 

Bean for . . , Not to care a : to hold as 
of next to no account. Owing to the 
small value of a bean. [1297] 

Bean in the cake, A : a means of choosing 
the king in Twelfth Day festivities. 

Bean in the cake. To find the : to gain 
an unexpected prize. 

Beans are in flower. The : a suggested 
explanation of a person's stupidity. 
It was formerly believed that the scent 
of the flowering bean induced stupidity 
in the recipient of it. 

Beans, Full of : in good condition, like a 
horse fed on beans. 

Beans go to make five, To know how 
many : to be mentally very alert, 
' wide-awake,' ' up to snuff.' From 
the former practice of using beans 
when counting. 

Beans in a blue bladder. Three blue : one 
who talks much but displays little 
sense. Possibly from a jester's bladder 
ornamented with pesis or beans. It 
has also been suggested that blue 
beans (small bullets) in a bladder make 
a great rattling noise without serving 
any useful purpose. 

Beans in the wind. To sow : to labour to 
no purpose. {The Marriage of Witt 
and Science (1569-70)] 

Beans, To abstain from: not to meddle in 
politics, ' for in the old the 
election of magistrates was made by 
the pulling of beans.' [See Lyly, 
Euphi-es (1579)] 

Beans, To give a person : to punish a 
person. From the French proverb, 
' If he gives me peas I will give him 
beans,' i.e., more punishment than he 
gives me. 

Beanfeast, A : an annual excursion pro- 
vided for workers by their employer, 
usually a festival of a somewhat 
vulgar character. A bean-goose used 
invariably to form one of the dishes at 
a beanfeast. Another origin is derived 
from Daniel Day, a Wapping pump- 
maker of the 1 8th cent., who on one 
day in the year used to offer all-comers 


a hearty meal of beans and bacon 

beneath the great oak at Fairlop, 

then a part of Epping Forest. 
Bear, A : a gruff, ill-tempered person, 

resembling in manners the quadruped. 
Bear and Bull (Stock Exchange terms) : 

the bear is one who speculates for a fall 

in prices ; the bull, for a rise. From 

the proverb of selling the skin of a bear 

before he is caught. [J as. Puckle, 

The Club : Knave (1711)] 
Bear by the Tooth, To take a : to take 

foolhardy risks. [Martial, Epigrams, 

Bk. VII, II, 27-8] 
Bear State, The : Arkansas ; formerly 

noted for the number of its bears. 
Bear the bell. To : to be successful. From 

the now obsolete practice of awarding 

the bell to the victor in a race. 

[Heywood, Proverbes (1546)] 
Bear the market. To : to depress the 

value of shares for the purpose of 

buying them cheap. See Bear and Bull. 
Bear, The (Northern) : Russia. From 

its cognizance. 
Bear-garden, A : a place of disorder and 

strife. Orig., a place set apart for 

bear-baiting and other rough sports. 
Bear-garden, To speak : to use bad 

language ; in allusion to the language 

used at bear-baiting. 
Bear-leader, A : a tutor and companion 

of a boy whose education and manners 

need polishing. 
Beard a person, To : to face and oppose 

a person openly. From the idea of 

seizing him by the beard. [Shakes- 
peare, I Henry IV, IV, i (1596)] 
Beard ablaze. To put a person's : to 

arouse a person's wrath. 
Beard on shoulder. To have a : to be 

listening with a view to overhearing. 
Beard the lion. To : see Beard, To ; to 

attack an esp. powerful opponent. 
Beard, To laugh at one's : to endeavour 

to make a person ridiculous. 
Beard, To laugh in one's : to laugh to 

oneself at having fooled a person. 
Beard, To make a person's : to have a 

person at one's mercy. 
Beard, To put in a person's : to charge 

a person with. [Paston Letters, No. 

483 (1464)] 
Beard, To run in a person's : to oppose 

a person to his face. 
Beards, To wag : to feast. [Life of 

Alexander (1312)] 
Bearded Blaster, The : Socrates (468- 

399 B.C.) ; so-called by Persius, the 

Roman poet. 



Beardslesrism, A : a pictorial illustration 
in black-and-white in the style of 
Aubrey Vincent Beardsley (1872-98). 

Bearings, To bring to : to bring a person 
to reason. A nautical metaphor. 

Bearings, To lose one's : to become 
bewildered. A nautical metaphor. 

Bearings, To take one's : to consider the 
position in which one finds oneself. 
A nautical metaphor. 

B6amais, The : Henri IV of France. 
From B6arn, the province in which 
he was born. 

Beast, The : the Roman Catholic Church; 
the Anti-Christ in the Apocalypse of 
St. John. 

Beast, The mark of the : see Mark. 

Beast, The number of the : see Apocalyp- 
tic Number. 

Beat a retreat, To : to withdraw from a 
situation. A military metaphor. 

Beat about the bush. To : to approach 
a subject with hesitation, and apparent 
desire to avoid the main issue. A 
sporting metaphor. [Robert Whitting- 
ton, Vidgaria, i (1520)] 

Beat the air, To : to strive or work use- 
lessly. A pugilistic metaphor. 
[/ Corinthians, ix, 26 ; Bacon, 
Essay es : Of Despatch (1625)] 

Beat the bounds. To : to trace the bounds 
of a parish by beating the landmarks 
with willow wands on Ascension Day, 
an old custom. 

Beat the dog before the lion. To : to 
punish a person of lesser degree in the 
presence of and in order to intimidate 
one of greater. From the French 
proverb, ' Battre le chien devant le 
lion.' [Chaucer, Squire's Tale, Ft. II 


Beat the Dutch, To : see Dutch, To beat 

Beat a person with his own staff (rod). 
To : to refute a person out of his own 
mouth. [Heywood, Proverbes (1546)] 

Beat the record. To : to exceed all fore- 
runners. [Prynne, Histrio-Mastix 

Beat the same ivy bush. To : to make the 
same boasts ; to play the same game, 
as another. [Dekker, The Gull's 
Hornbook, ch. 7 (1609)] 

Beaten gold and ivory. To be all : to be 

Beaten track. The : the conventional 

Beati possidentes {Lat., Happy are those 
in possession) : a contraction .of the 
legal phrase Beaii in jure consentiuntur 

Beau] 39 

possidentes. It is generally agreed that 
those in possession are happy in law. 
The phrase was applied by Bismarck 
to the Christian provinces of Turkey, 
esp. Bosnia and Herzegovina, after the 
Russo-Turkish War. 
Beau, A {Fr., handsome) : a dandy ; a 
man who devotes special attention to 
his attire ; a male lover. [In English 
use in 14th cent.] 
Beau Brummel, A : a dandy. After 
George Bryan (i 778-1 840), (Beau 
Brummel), the greatest of the dandies 
and the leader of fashion in his day. 
Beau ideal, The {Fr., the ideally beauti- 
ful) : the highest type of excellence. 
Beau monde {Fr., beautiful world) : the 
fashionable world. [Wycherley, 
GerUleman Dancing-master (1659)] 
Beau Nash : Richard Nash (i 674-1 761), 
' The King of Bath,' an English leader 
of fashion in his day. 

Beau Sabreur, Le {Fr., the Handsome 
Swordsman) : Joachim Murat, one of 
Napoleon's marshals and afterwards 
King of Naples (1767-1815), famous as 
a cavalry leader. 

Beauchamp, As bold as : from the 
proverbial bravery of the Beauchamps, 
Earls of Warwick ; or from that of 
Thomas, the first earl in particular, 
who in 1346 with the assistance of a 
squire and six archers defeated a hun- 
dred Normans. A play. The Three Bold 
Beauchamps, was published about 1610 
and Bold Beauchamp was the title of 
one of the lost plays of Thos. Heywood 
(d. 1650). 

Beauclerc : Henry I of England. In 
acknowledgment of his scholarship. 

Beaumontague : literary padding ; 
hack-work. From Emile Beaumont 
(1798-1851), geologist, and Germ., 
Teig, dough. 

Beaut6 du Diable {Fr., beauty of the 
Devil) : a type of beauty that indicates 
ill-health or disease. 

Beautiful Parricide, The : Beatrice Cenci 
(d. 1599), who is said to have justifiably 
murdered her father. 

Beauty and the Beast : a couple of whom 
the woman is beautiful and the man 
ugly. After the title of Mme. Ville- 
neuve's fairy tale (1740). 

Beauty-sleep : sleep obtained before mid- 
night, the most healthy period. 

Beauty-spot, A : a patch placed on the 
face of a lady to act as a foil to her 

Beaux esprits : plural of Bel esprit {q.v.). 


Beaux yeux {Fr., beautiful eyes) : 
attractive 'looks,' appearance. 

Bechamel : a white sauce used in 
cookery. After the French inventor, 
the Marquis de Bechamel (d. 1703), 
steward to Louis XIV. 

Beck and call. To be at a person's : to 
be within his absolute control, to have 
to dance attendance on him. 

Becky Sharp, A : an unscrupulous, 
worldly young woman. After a 
character in Thackeray, Vaniiy Fair 

Bed and board : full connubial relations. 
[York Manual (1403)] 

Bed of down, A : an easy, plccisant 
situation. [Shakespeare, Othello, I, 
iii (?i6o4) ; Sir Thos. Wyatt, How to 
Use the Court (1557)] 

Bed of Justice : a meeting of the French 
Parliament under the presidency of 
the king. From the pile of cushions 
which originally formed the royal 

Bed of roses, A : a pleasant situation. 

Bed of thorns, A : an unpleasant situ- 
ation. [Thos. Watson, Aurora Now 
Began to Rise Again (1593)] 

Bed the wrong side (with the left foot or 
leg foremost). To get out of : to be in 
a bad temper. From the superstition 
that it is unlucky to put the left foot 
first to the ground on getting out of 
bed. [John Still, Gammer Gurton's 
Needle. II, i (1566)] 

Bed-post, Between you and me and the : 
between ourselves, to the exclusion of 
others ; strictly, privately. 

Bed-post, In the twijikling of a : instan- 
taneously. Previously, ' in the 
twinkling of a bedstaff.' The bedstaff 
was used to keep the clothes on the 
bed, and also served as a substitute 
for a rapier in fencing. [Colman, 
Heir at Law (1808)] 

Bed-rock : the ultimate basis ; the end 
of one's resources. A mining metaphor. 

Bedfordshire, To go to : to go to bed. 
A pun. 

Bedlam, A : a lunatic-asylum ; an 
uproar. After the Hospital of St. 
Mary of Bethlehem (Bedlam) in 
London, a lunatic-asylum. 

Bedlam beggars : discharged incom- 
pletely-cured inmates of Bethlehem 
(Bedlam) Hospital, licensed to beg in 
the streets from passers-by. 
Bedlam, Bess 0' : see Tom o' Bedlam. 
Bedlamite, A : one who is, or ought to 
be, an inmate of a lunatic-asylum. 


Bee, A Spelling : a party engaged in a 
spelling-game. Bee in the (Amer.) 
sense of a gathering of people, a 
' swarm ' of bees. See Swarm. 

Bee in one's bonnet. To have a : to 
have a craze on some definite subject ; 
to be slightly unhinged in mind ; to 
be of a choleric disposition. See 
Bees in the head. 

Bee of Athens (Attica), The; The 
Athenian (Attic) Bee : (i) Plato 
(c. 427-347 B.C.), a native of Athens, 
in allusion to the sweetness of his 
style ; (2) Sophocles (496-405 B.C.), a 
native of Athens ; (3) Xenophon 
(444-350 B.C.) 

Bee of Hymettus, The : see Bee of Athens. 

Bee to a battledore, To say : to have at 
least an elementary knowledge. A 
battledore was a cardboard book used 
for teaching young children in the 
earlier half of the 19th cent. 

Bee-line, In a : direct ; following the 
straight line which a bee is reputed to 
take when returning home. Of Amer. 

Bees, In the : confused. 

Bees in the head. To have : to be of a 
choleric disposition, i.e., to have that 
in the head which is easily provoked. 
[Gawin Douglas, Mneis, VIII (1512)] 

Bees of Hybla : see Hybla. 

Beef nor brose of mine, Neither: no 
concern of mine. Brose is, in Scot- 
land, a porridge made by pouring 
boiling water over oatmeal. 

Beefeater, A : a yeoman of the guard. 
From buffeter, in the sense of a menial 
servant, or the beefeater, a bird whose 
strong thick bill bore some resemblance 
to their arms. 

BeeLsebub : the Devil. From the name 
of the God of Flies, one of the heathen 
gods mentioned in II Kings. In 
Milton, Paradise Lost, it is the name 
of one of the fallen angels. 

Beelzebub to cast out Satan, To call in : to 
employ one evil to neutralize another. 

Beer and Bible : the Conservative Party 
(according to their opponents) from 
1873 onwards. In that year the party 
which had always included a number 
of religious leaders, received an 
accession of strength from the brewing 
interest, which took serious objection 
to legislation proposed by the Liberal 

Beer and skittles : all that one could 
desire ; the height of pleasure. A 
public-house metaphor. 



Beer, To chronicle small : to write or 
talk about trivialities. [Peter Pindar, 
The Remonstrance : Ode to My Ass 
(1791) ; Shakespeare, Othello, II, i, 

Beer of . . To think small : to have a 
poor opinion of . . Small beer is weak 
beer. [Shakespeare, Othello, II, i 

Beer-money : money paid to a servant 
in lieu of an allowance of beer ; a tip. 

Beerage, The : the brewer-peers. An 
artificial word modelled on 'peerage.' 

Beerocracy : the class of wealthy 
brewers. An artificial word modelled 
on 'aristocracy.' 

Beersheba, Dan to : see Dan. 

Beetle, As quick as a : very slow. 

Beetle-browed : having heavy, dark 
eyebrows. An allusion to the insect. 
[14th cent.] 

Beetle-crusher, A : a large, ilat foot. 
[First used in Punch by John Leech.] 

Befana, The : in Ital. folklore, a sort of 
combination of the Wandering Jew 
and Santa Claus. An old woman who 
was too busily employed in domestic 
work to go to the window to see the 
Three Wise Men of the East pass on 
their way to greet the Infant Jesus, 
and has been awaiting their return 
ever since. On Twelfth Night she 
acts as a sort of Santa Claus. A 
corruption of Epiphany (Twelfth 

Before the lights : on the stage. A 
theatrical phrase. 

Before the mast. To serve : to be a 
member of the ordinary crew of a 
vessel whose quarters are in the fore- 
castle, before the mast. 

Beg : a Turkish governor ; a bey. 

Beg the question. To : to assume the 
conclusion without proving it. The 
phrase in its Grk. equivalent was first 
used by Aristotle. 

Begbie murder, A : an unsolved mystery 
or problem. After the mysterious 
murder and robbery of William Begbie, 
a bank manager, in Edinburgh, on the 
13th Nov., 1806. 

Beggar description. To : to exhaust the 
powers of description. [Shakespeare, 
Anthony and Cleopatra, II, ii (?i6o6)] 

Beggar on horseback, A : an upstart ; a 
person suddenly raised in social status 
and rendered giddy by his promotion. 
From the Germ, proverb, 'Set a 
beggar on horseback and he'll outride 
the Devil.' [Burton, Anatomy of 


Melancholy, Pt. II, Sect. II, Memb. 2 : 
' Set a beggar on horseback and he 
will ride a gallop ' (1621)] 

Beggar to his dish, As true to one as the : 
From the clap-dish, the beggar's 
receptacle for alms. 

Beggar's brown : Scotch snuff. 

Beggars' Bush, To go by : to proceed to 
ruin. The Beggars' Bush was a tree 
on the road between Huntingdon and 
Caxton, which formed a rendezvous 
for beggars. [Robert Greene, Quip 
for an Upstart Courtier (1592)] 

Beggars of the Sea : Dutch privateers 
who preyed on Span, commerce in the 
latter part of the i6th cent. 

Beggars, The Wild : Dutch revolutionary- 
brigands active in the latter half of 
the I 6th cent. 

Beghard, A : a member of a lay religious 
Order ; from Lambert de Bfegue 
(d. 1 187), the founder, a priest of 
Liege. See Beguine. 

Begonia : a species of ornamental plant ; 
from Michel Begon (1638-1710). 

Beguine, A : a female member of a 
continental lay Order ; see Beghard. 

Bejan : a freshman. From Fr., bee 
jaune, a yellow-beak, a young bird. 
Scot, and Fr. Universities. 

Bel Anglais, Le {Fr., the handsome 
Englishman) : the Duke of Marl- 
borough (1650-1722). 

Bel esprit, A (Fr., a fine spirit) : a man 
of brilliant intellect ; a wit. 

Bel's two fires. Between : between 
alternate difficulties. In allusion to 
the two fires kindled in Irish villages 
on the eve of the ist of May between 
which all devoted to sacrifice had to 

Belcher, A : a neckerchief with white 
or coloured spots. After J ames Belcher 
(1781-1811), Eng. pugilist, by whom a 
neckerchief consisting of white spots 
on a dark-blue ground was introduced. 

Belial, A son (man) of : an evil man. 
A Biblical phrase denoting a son of 
evil. The name Belial was given by 
Milton in Paradise Lost to one of the 
fallen angels. [II Samuel, xvi, 7] 

Belisarius, A : a great general, hero of 
his army. After the Roman General 
of that name (c. 505-65). 

Belisarius, To play : to act the beggar. 
From the Latin proverb, ' Date obolum 
Belisario ' (Give an obolus or small 
coin to Belisarius). Belisarius (c. 505- 
65), Commander-in-Chief of the army 
in the East under Justinian, being 

41 [Bells 

accused of conspiracy, forfeited his 
rank and fortune. According to a 
doubtful tradition he lost also his 
sight and was reduced to beggary, so 
that he had to beg for pennies at the 
gate of Rome. 

Bell, Book and Candle, To curse by : a 
form of excommunication in the 
Roman Catholic Church. The Bell 
called the attention of the public to 
the forthcoming announcement ; the 
Book contained the sentence that was 
pronounced ; the Candle was extin- 
guished to symbolize the spiritual 
darkness of the object of the curse 
The concluding lines of the formula 
were : ' Cursed be they from the 
crown of the head to the sole of the 
foot. Out be they taken from the 
Book of Life (at this point the priest 
closed the book), and as this candle is 
cast from the sight of men, so be their 
souls cast from the sight of God into 
the deepest pit of hell (at this point 
a lighted candle is cjist to the ground). 
Amen.' Then the bells were rung in 
discord to signify the passing of the 
souls of the excommunicated persons 
out of grace. 

Bell the cat. To : to undertake a danger- 
ous task. From La Fontaine's fable 
of the mice appointing one of them- 
selves to put a bell on the cat. The 
phrase was coined by the 5th Earl of 
Angus (c. 1449-1514) when in a com- 
pany of Scot, nobles he offered to face 
their common enemy, the Earl of Mar. 
[Heywood, Proverbes (1546)] 

Bdl, The Passing : a church-bell tolled 
to announce a death. Orig. the bell 
that was rung when a person was dying 
in order to scare away the evil spirits 
that were supposed to be waiting for his 
soul. It also served the purpose of sum- 
moning all good Christians to pray for 
the admission of his soul into paradise. 

Bell, To bear the : see Bear. 

Bell, To lose the : to be defeated. From 
the medieval practice of presenting a 
bell as a prize to the victor in a race. 

Bells and let her fly. To give the : to 
make the best of a misfortune and not 
to attempt hopelessly to reverse it. 
A hawking metaphor. When a hawk 
was worthless the bells were taken off 
and it was allowed to escape. 

Bells backwards. To ring the : to ring a 
muffled peal as a sign of mourning. 
In earlier times the bells were rung 
backwards to sound the alarm. 



Bells on one horse. To have all one's : to 

leave all of one's property to one 

Bell-wavering : inconstancy (Scottish). 

Bellarmine, A : a jug with the face of a 
man on it made at Cologne. After 
Card. Robert Bellarmino, the opponent 
of the Protestants (1542-1621). 

Belle, A {Fr., beautiful) : a good-looking 
young woman, esp. one who dresses to 
enhance her charms. 

Belle of the ball. The : the centre of 
attraction at a dance. 

Belle Passion, La (F*-., the beautiful pas- 
sion) : passionate love. 

Bellerophon, Letters of : documents 
which are a source of danger to those 
who hold them. From the letter sent 
with Bellerophon to the King of Lycia 
ordering the latter to have the bearer 
put to death. 

Belles Lettres {Fr., fine literature) : 
literature in which regard to style is 
given prominent consideration. 

Bellibone, A : a good-looking girl. A 
corruption of belle el bonne. [Spenser, 
Shepherd's Calendar (1579)] 

Bellona's handmaids : blood, fire and 
famine. Bellona was the Roman 
Goddess of War. 

Belly god, A : a glutton ; one who 
worships his belly. 

Belly-cheer : provisions. [Eliote's Dic- 
tionarie (1559)] 

Belly-piece, A : an apron ; hence, a 
woman. [Shad well. Bury Fair (1689); 
Randolph, Jealous Lovers (1646)] 

Belly-timber : provisions. [Terence in 
English (161 4)] 

Beloved Disciple, The : St. John. [John, 
xiii, 23 et seq.] 

Beloved Physician, The : St. Luke. 

Below par : not in the best of health or 
condition. A metaphor drawn from 
the money-market with reference to 
securities below their nominal value 

Below stairs : among the servants. 

Belt, To hit below the : to act unfairly ; 
from the language of the prize-ring. 

Belt, To hold the : to champion ; to 
support. A pugilistic metaphor. 

Beltane : May-day (in Scotland) ; June 
2 (in Ireland). A festival celebrated 
by the extinguishing of all domestic 
fires and the lighting of bonfires, from 
which the domestic fires are re-kindled. 
Apparently a heathen survival from 
the period of fire-worship. 

Ben, Big : see Big Ben. 


Ben trovato {Ital., well found) : well in- 
vented. The phrase is derived from 
the remark Se non i vera, i hen trovato 
(If it is not true, it is certainly well 
invented), attrib. to Hippolito, Card. 
d'Este (1479-1520), patron of learning, 
on the occasion of the dedication to 
him by Ariosto of his Orlando Furioso 

Bench and bar : the body of judges and 
barristers. From the bench on which 
the former sit, and the bar that used 
to separate the latter from the public 
in Court. 

Bench-whistler, A : an idler ; a loafer ; 
one who sits whistling on a bench. 

Bend, Above one's : beyond one's power 
or capacity. In allusion to the bend- 
ing power of a bow which, if exceeded, 
leads to a break. 

Bend, The Grecian : see Grecian. 

Bend Sinister, To have a : to be of 
illegitimate birth. An allusion to the 
device in a coat of arms supposed to 
indicate bastardy. 

BendigO, A : a fur cap, similar to that 
worn by William Thompson (181 1-80), 
Eng. pugilist, bom at Bendigo, 

Benedicite (Lot., bless ye) : a very brief 
grace before a meal ; invocation of a 

Benedick, A : a newly-married man. 
After a character in Shakespeare, 
Much Ado About Nothing (1599). 

Benedict, A : a bachelor. After St. 
Benedict, patron of celibates. 

Benedictine : a liqueur, formerly made 
by the Benedictine monks at F6camp, 

Benefit of Clergy : exemption of the 
clergy, and at one time of all who could 
read, from criminal proceedings before 
a secular Court. 

Benevolence, A : a tax arbitrarily in- 
flicted by the king. Introduced by 
Edward IV in 1473, as a suggested 
proof of loyalty to the king. 

Bengal stripes : striped gingham. From 
Bengal, India, whence the material was 
exported in the 17th and i8th cents. 

Bengal Tigers : the Leicester Regt. or 
17th Foot, who, after approved service 
in India (1802-23) were given a tiger 
as a badge. 

Benjamin : aromatic resin. A corrup- 
tion of benzoin. 

Benjamin, A : (i) a dark-blue or black 
long jacket, fitting close to the figure, 
after one Benjamin, a sailors' tailor 


at Portsmouth, its inventor; (2) a 
favourite son ; the youngest son. 
After the youngest son of Jacob. 

Benjamin's mess : the largest share. 
[Genesis, xliii, 34 : ' Benjamin's mess 
was five times so much as any of 

Bennett, To receive : to be tonsured as 
a priest. [Paston Letters, No. 286 

Bent, Out of one's : beyond one's powers. 

Bent, To the top of one's : as far as it is 
possible for one to go, as far as the 
bow can be bent without breaking. 
[Shakespeare, Hamlet, III, ii (1602)] 

Bent, To take the : to take the flight. 

Bent with Robin Bruce, To take the : to 
take to the open country ; to provide 
for one's safety. 

Benton's mint drops : gold coins of the 
U.S., esp. the smaller ones. After 
Thomas Hart Benton (1782-1858), 
mainly through whose influence in 
Congress gold became relatively 
common as currency. 

Bergsean, A : a great liar. From Anti- 
phanes of Berga, Grk. fabulist. 

Bergaize, To : to tell incredible stories. 

Bergamot, A : a species of orange ; the 
perfume obtained therefrom ; a coarse 
tapestry. From Bergamo, a town in 
Italy ; or from Turk., beg-armudi, 
prince's pear. 

Bergen-op-zoom, A : a dunce, a person 
impermeable to impressions derived 
from reading. From the successful 
defence of the Dutch town of that 
name against all attacks in 1588, 1605, 
1622 and 1814. [De Quincey (1785- 
1859), Collected Writings, iii, 93] 

Berlin, A : a closed carriage with a seat 
and a hood behind. After the capital 
of Germany. 

Berlin wool : a wool used for fancjrwork. 
After the capital of Germany. 

Bermudas : a tobacco. After the 
Bermuda Isles in the North Atlantic, 
whence the tobacco was orig. obtained. 
Bermudas, To live in: to live in hiding. 
After Bermudas, a term applied to the 
alleys and courts in the neighbourhood 
of Covent Garden, London, in the early 
17th cent., where debtors and others 
who wished to conceal themselves hid. 
The name was derived from the 
Bermuda Isles, in which those who 
wished to defraud their creditors settled. 
BemeSQue poetry : serio-comic poetry. 
From Francesco Berni (i 490-1536), 
Ital. poet. 

43 [Bethel 

Berserk rage : the martial frenzy of a 
soldier on the battlefield. 

Berserker, A : a reckless hero ; a Viking 
hero. From the Scand. mythological 
hero. Berserk, who fought without 
armour. Icelandic, berserkr, bear-skin. 

Berth, A good (bad) : a comfortable 
(uncomfortable) ofhce or employment. 
A nautical metaphor. 

Berth to . . To give a wide : to avoid. 
A nautical metaphor. 

Bertillonism : anthropometry. From 
Alphonse Bertillon (1853-1914), French 
inventor of identification by measure- 

Bertolde, Imperturbable as : very im- 
perturbable. After a character in a 
piece by J. Cesare Croce. 

Berwick to Land's End, From : from one 
extreme limit to the other. Berwick- 
on-Tweed and Land's End mark the 
extremes of the kingdom of England. 

Besant : see Bezant. 

Besom, To hang out the : to enjoy one- 
self in the absence of one's wife. A 
besom, originally a birch, now 
means a broom. 

Besom, To jump the : to live together 
as man and wife, without being 

Besonio ; Besognio : see Bezonian. 

Bespeak, A : a benefit-night at the 
theatre, when the play is chosen or 
bespoken by the person to benefit or 
by his friends. 

Bessemer steel : steel made by the 
Bessemer process. After Sir Henry 
Bessemer (1813-98), the inventor. 

Bess of Bedlam, A : a female vagrant 
lunatic. See Bedlam. There is an 
old chap-book entitled ' Bess of 
Bedlam's Garland.' 

Best leg foremost. To put one's : see Leg. 

Best of the matter. To make the : to face 
disappointment or misfortune courage- 
ously and take whatever slight benefit 
it may still offer. [Wm. Combe, 
Tour of Dr. Syntax in Search of the 
Picturesque, Canto xxvi (1812)] 

B§te noire {Fr., black beast) : a cause of 
annoyance. Apparently from a black 
sheep in a flock, always of less value 
than a white one and at times an 
object of superstitious aversion. 

Bethel, A : a dissenting chapel ; in the 
U.S. a chapel for seamen. After Bethel, 
the House of God, a place-name and 
sanctuary in Biblical Palestine. 

Bethel, A calf of : a Romem Catholic 


Bethel, A Little : a nonconformist place 

of worship. 
Betonica ; Betony : a dye and a 

medicine, and the plant from which 
they are obtained. From the Vetones, 
a people of Spain, who are supposed to 
have discovered the plant. 

Better days, To have seen : to be reduced 
in fortune. [Shakespeare, As Yon- 
Like It, II, vii, 1. 113 (1601) ; Timon 
of Athens, IV, ii, 1. 27 (1607)] 

Better, for worse. For : in all circum- 
stances and conditions. A phrase 
employed in the Anglican marriage- 
service. [Appius and Virginia, 1. 308 

Better than one's word. To be : to 
exceed one's promise. 

Better-half, The : a wife, man and wife 
being theoretically one. Originally 
applied to a close friend. [Sidney, 
Arcadia, Bk. Ill, 1. 280 (1580)]. The 
idea is anticipated in an oriental story 
of a Bedouin whose wife pleaded for 
him in the following words : ' O great 
Prince . . . the blasphemy is horrible, 
I confess . . . but it is not my whole 
husband who has thus rendered him- 
self guilty towards thee.' ' Not thy 
whole husband ? ' ' Nay,' she con- 
tinued,' it is but the half of him that has 
committed the insult ; for am I not the 
other half — I who have never offended 
thee ? Now the guilty half places itself 
under the protection of the innocent half 
and the latter cannot suffer the former 
to be punished.' {Percy Anecdotes). 

Better of a matter. To thii^ : to revise 
one's opinion of a matter. 

Better of . . To get the : to get the 
advantage of . . 

Better off : in more comfortable circum- 

Better oneself. To : to improve one's 
circumstances. [The Return from 
Parnassus, V, iii (1606)] 

Better self. One's : one's husband or 
wife. [John Cooke, Greene's Tu 
Quoque, I, 1430 (1614)] 

Better than one should be. To be no : 
(said of a woman) ; to be of doubtful 
virtue or reputation. [Beaumont 
and Fletcher, The Coxcomb, IV, iii 
(c. 1610)] 

Betters, One's : one's social superiors. 
[Layamon, 3749 (1205)] 

Betterment : increase in value of land 
and house-property as a consequence 
of public improvements. [First used 
in this sense in the U.S.] 

44 [Bicker staff 

Betty, A : a man who engages in female 

Between ourselves (you and me) : speak- 
ing confidentially. [Foote, The 
Author, I, i (1757) ; Goldsmith, The 
Goodnatured Man, IV, i (1768)] 

Between you and me and the bed (gate) 
post : speaking confidentially. [Peter 
Pindar, Peter's Pension (178-)] 

Beulah, The Land of : see Land. 

Bever : drink ; drinking time ; a light 
meal between breakfast and dinner. 
Old Fr., beivre, to drink. 

Bezant ; Byzant, A : a gold coin, of 
varying value, of the Eastern Empire, 
and also of Europe until the 14th 
cent. From Byzantium, the capital 
of the Eastern Empire. 

Bezoar stone, A : a supposed antidote 
for poison. Bezoar stones are the 
round, hard concretions formed in the 
intestines of wild goats of masses of 
hair swallowed by them. 

Bezonian, A : a young untrained soldier ; 
a needy person. From Ital. bisogno, 
want. Applied first to badly clad and 
accoutred Span, soldiers who lajided 
in Italy. [Middleton, Blunt Master 
Constable (1602)] 

Bezonian P Under which king, : make 
your choice of sides. [Shakespeare, 
2 Henry IV. V, iii (1597-8)] 

Bianchi and Neri (Ital., whites and 
blacks) : supporters of the House of 
Savoy and the Papal Temporal 
claims, respectively. The names of 
two factions in the Guelph Party. 

Bible oath, A : an oath sworn upon the 

Bible of . . The : that which one holds 
sacred and swears by. 

Bible-backed : round-shouldered, like 
one much given to reading. 

Bible-clerk, A : a scholar at Oxford who 
reads lessons in chapel. 

Bibliolstry : a superstitious worship of 
the Bible ; worship of books. In- 
vented by S. T.Coleridge (1772-1834). 

Biblion abiblion {Grk., a book that is 
not a book) : ' Literature ' of the 
character of directories, railway-guides, 
etc., which possess no quality of books 
except in their appearance. The word 
was invented by Charles Lamb (1775- 

Bibulus, A : a cipher in office. After 

the colleague of Julius Caesar. 
Bickerstaff, Isaac : a name assumed by 

Jonathan Swift in his controversy 

with Partridge, the almanac-maker; 


adopted by Sir Richard Steele as his 
nom-de-plume in The Tatley (1709) ; 
and later by Benjamin West in his 
Boston Almanac. 

Bid beads, To : to say prayers. See 
Beadsman, and Bidding Prayer. 

Bid-ale, A : a benefit-entertainment for 
which a general invitation is issued, 
From bid, to invite, and ale, a festival. 

Bidding-prayer, A : a prayer, esp. one 
for the repose of souls. Lit., a praying 
prayer, or perhaps one that the congre- 
gation is bidden to utter. See Beads- 

Biddy (Bridget), A : a maid-servant, esp. 
in the U.S. where at one time most of 
the domestic servants were Irish. 

Bideford Postmau, The : Edward Capern 
(1819-94), postman and poet. 

Bidet, A {Fr., bidet, pony) : a post-horse, 
or small horse. 

Bidri ; Bidree ; Biddry : a kind of 
damascening in metals. After Bidri, 
a city in the Deccan, India. 

Bien-Aim6, Le {Fr., the well-beloved) : 
Louis XV of France (1710-74). 

Bien venu (Fy.) : welcome. Now almost 
obsolete in England. 

Bienseance [Fr.) : proper behaviour. 
Now almost obsolete in England. 

Bierbalk, A : the road by which a corpse 
has been carried to the churchyard, 
which was at one time popularly 
supposed to grant thereby a permanent 
right of way to the public. 

Bierway, A : (in East Anglia), a bier- 
balk {q.v.). 

Big as a bee's knee. As : of infinitesmally 
small size. 

Big Beggarman, The : Daniel O'Connell 
(1775- 1 847). A nickname given to 
him by the Irish landlords. 

Big Ben : the great bell in the clock- 
tower at Westminster. From Sir 
Benjamin Hall (1802-67), who was 
First Commissioner of Works when 
the bell was hung. 

Big Bend State : Tennessee, which in one 
of the Indian languages is ' River of 
the Big Bend.' 

Big bird. To get the : to be hissed off 
the stage. Theatrical slang. 

Big Bo : a hobgoblin. 

Big Gooseberry Season : the period after 
Parliament has risen when, in conse- 
quence of lack of news, the newspapers 
devote undue attention to topics such 
as the growth of giant gooseberries, 
the appearance of the sea-serpent, 

45 [Billingsgate 

Big as a pin's head. As : very small. 
[J. Still, Gammer Gurton's Needle, 1, v 

Big for one's shoes. To get too : to have 
become very conceited ; to ' have a 
swollen head.' 

Big gun, A : a person of consequence. 

Big Pot, A : a person of consequence. 

Big, To speak (talk) : to boast. 

Big- wig, A : an important official. A 
wig of large size was formerly worn by 
men of high rank or importance. 
[Ned Ward, The English Spy (1703)] 

Biggin, A : a pot for making and serving 
coffee. After the name of the inventor 
who lived in the 1 8th- 19th cents. 

Biggin ; Biggen, A : a child's cap ; a 
night-cap. From Beguine {q.v.). 

Bighes, To be in the : to be in an excel- 
lent humour. From bighes, women's 

Bike, A : a corrupt contraction of 

Bilbo, A : a sword of a fine temper. 
From Bilbao in Spain, where such 
swords were first made. 

Bilboes : the irons used as manacles for 
sailors. From (i) Bilbao in Spain, 
where they were made ; or (2) the 
Bilboes, the windings of a river in 

Bile, To rouse (stir) the : to enrage. The 
ancient view was that an excited bile 
caused anger. 

Bilk, To : to cheat (esp. cabmen). A 
corruption of ' balk.' [Ben Jonson, 
The Tale of a Tub, I, i (1633)] 

Bill and coo. To : to make love ; to 
show signs of mutual affection, like 
turtle-doves. [Dryden, Amphitryon, 
I, ii (i6go)] 

Bill, A true : a prima facie case against 
a person. Legal term. 

Billet k La Gh&tre, A : a broken promise ; 
a promise to be broken. From the 
remark made by Ninon L'Enclos 
(1615-1705), Fr. wit and beauty, when, 
in the absence of the Marquis de la 
Chitre, she took to herself another 
lover: ' Ah, le bon billet qu'a La 
Chdtre I ' (' Ah, the fine promise I 
made to La Chdtre !). 

Billet-doux, A {Fr., sweet little letter) : 
a love-letter. [Vanbrugh, The Pro- 
voked Wife, IV, iv (1697)] 

Billingsgate : foul language. From the 
fish-market at Billingsgate, notorious 
for the bad language in common use 
there. [Wycherley, The Plain Dealer, 
III (1677)] 


Billingsgate pheasant, A : a red herring. 
From the fish-market at Billingsgate. 

Billy Barlow, A : half-witted street fool. 
After a character in the East End of 
London (d. 1851). 

Billycock (hat), A : a hard round felt 
hat. Formerly ' bully-cocked,' i.e., 
cocked like a street bully. Another 
derivation is from William Coke of 
Holkham (1752-1842) who is said to 
have introduced them at his great 
shooting parties. 

Bingham's Dandies : the 17th Lancers. 
After one of their colonels. Lord 

Birchin(g) Lane, To send to : to order to 
be punished. From Birchin Lane in the 
City of London, a pun on ' birch.' 
[Ascham, The Schoolmaster (1570)] 

Bird in one's bosom. The : one's loyalty. 
From an expression used by Sir Ralph 
Percy, a Lancastrian, killed at the 
Battle of Hedgly Moor (1464). 

Bird is flown. The : the person sought 
has escaped. [John Heywood, 
Proverbes (1546)] 

Bird in the hand, A : a certainty, as 
compared with a possibility. From 
the proverb ' A bird in the hand is 
worth two in the bush.' 

Bird of ill-omen, A : one supposed to 
bring ill-luck. In allusion to the 
ancient practice of augury by birds. 

Bird of Juno, The : the peacock. 

Bird of the night. The : the owl. 
[Shakespeare, Julius Caesar, I, ii 

Bird of passage, A : a sojourner ; one 
who, like the migratory birds, does 
not stay long anywhere. 

Bird of Washington, The : the American 

Bird, The Arabian : the phoenix. 

Bird, To get the big : see Big Bird. 

Bird told me, A little : a fictitious ex- 
planation of the source of knowledge. 
[Ecclesiastes, x, 20 : ' Curse not the 
king, no not in thy thought . . for a 
bird of the air shall carry the voice, 
and that which hath wings shall tell 
the matter.' Heywood, Proverbes, ' I 
hear by one bird that in mine ear was 
late chanting.'] 

Bird-spit, A : a sword. Lit., a spit for 
cooking birds on. 

Bird-witted, To be : to be apparently 
incapable of mental concentration ; to 
flit from one subject to another, like a 
bird. [Bacon, Advancement of Learn- 
ing, I, 7. §7 (1605)] 

46 [Birthday 

Bird's-eye view, A : a general view taken 
from above, as seen by a bird (or from 
an aeroplane). 

Bird's tail. As bare as a : stripped naked. 
[I'erence in English (1614)] 

Birds of Diomedes : swans. From the 
legend that after the death of the 
legendary Grk. hero, Diomedes, his 
companions were changed by the gods 
into swans. 

Birds of a feather : people of similar 
character. Generally deprecatingly. 
From the proverb, ' Birds of a feather 
flock together.' [Life and Death of 
Captain Thomas Stukeley,! 362 (1605). 

Birds with one stone. To kill two : to 
attain two objects by one effort. 
[Plautus, Casina, 476] 

Birds' milk : see Pigeons' milk. 

Birgham ! Go to : go away (emphatic- 
ally). From Birgham in Scotland 
where the nobles who betrayed their 
country to Edward I were assembled. 

Birkenhead, The : an Eng. troop-ship 
that sank with a loss of 400 lives in 
1852. The discipline and unselfishness 
of the men has become proverbial. 

Birmingham : see Brummagem. 

Birmingham Doctor, The : Samuel Parr 
(1747-1825), so-called by De Quincey 
on account of ' his spurious and windy 
imitation of Dr. Johnson.' See 

Birmingham Milton, The : Gottlieb 
Friedrich Klopstock (1724-1803), 
Germ, poet ; so-called by De Quincey. 
See Birmingham. 

Birmingham of Belgium, The : Li6ge. 

Birmingham of Russia, The : Tula. 

Birmingham Poet, The : John Freeth 

Birmingham School, The : orig. (previous 
to 1886) extreme Radicalism as 
preached by Joseph Chamberlain ; 
afterwards Liberal Unionism ; and 
still later Tariff Reform. In both 
the latter cases as advocated and 
promoted by the same political 

Birrell. To : to write in ' a style, light, 
easy, playful, pretty, rather discursive, 
perhaps a little superficial. Its 
characteristic note is grace.' [G. W. E. 
Russell, Collections and Recollections 
(1898)] After Augustine Birrell (b. 
1850), English essayist and politician. 

Birthday honours : honours and titles 
conferred on the occasion of a royal 

Birthday suit. In : nude. 


Birthright for a mess of pottage. To sell 
one's : to exchange a permanent 
advantage for a temporary benefit. 
From the action of Esau, as narrated in 
Genesis, xxv. [G. Wilkins, Miseries of 
Enforced Marriage, III, 11. 307-8 (1607)] 

Bishop of Chester, As poor as the : a 
sarcasm. The wealth of Bishopric of 
Chester in the 15th cent., when this 
simile originated, was immense. 

Bishops, Age of the : see Age. 

Bishop's cope. To quarrel over a : see 

Bismarck of Asia, The : the Chinese 
statesman, Li Hung Chang (1823-1901). 
Otto, Prince Bismarck (1815-98), was 
the greatest statesman of the German 

Bit and sup, A : a little food and drink. 
[Verney, Metnoirs, II (1665)] 

Bit in (between) the teeth. To take the : 
to be obstinately determined, like a 
horse that catches the bit between his 
teeth when about to bolt. [Heywood, 
Proverbes (1546)] 

Bit of one's mind. To give a person a : 
to reprove a person sharply. 

Bite a person's nose off. To : to answer 
a person snappishly. [Nashe, Lenten 
Stuffe, 47 (1599)] 

Bite, Bark to be worse than the : 
see Bark. 

Bite the hand that feeds one, To : to 
show base ingratitude. 

Bite off more than one can chew. To : 
to undertake more than one can carry 
out ; in allusion to tobacco-chewing. 

Bite one's thumb at. To : to insult. The 
thumb represented a fig and the action 
amounted to an intimation that the 
other party to the controversy was 
not considered of the value of a fig. 
[Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet, I, i 

Bite the dust, To : see Dust. 

Bite, To teach a fish to : see Teach. 

Biter bit. The : an aggressor unexpected- 
ly caught in his own trap. 

Bites of a cherry. To make two : to per- 
form a work in unnecessary instal- 
ments ; linger unnecessarily over a 
task. [Rabelais, Works, Bk. V, ch. 

Bitten to the brain : drunk. [Heywood, 
Proverbes (1546)] 

Bitter end. The : the last extremity ; 
the dregs. {Proverbs, v, 4 : ' Her end 
is bitter as wormwood.'] Another 
derivation is a nautical one ; from the 
very end of the cable 'abaft the bitts.' 



Bitter as gall. As : very bitter. [Burton. 
Anatomy, II, 120 (1621^] 

Bitter as wormwood. As : very bitter, 
sour tempered. [Proverbs, v, 14 ; 
Shakespeare, Love's Labour Lost, V, 
ii (1588; ; Burton, Anatomy of Melan- 
choly, I, 338 (1621)] 

B.K.S. : barracks. A military term. 

Blab (abroad). To : to talk or utter 
indiscreetly. ' Blab ' as a noun (one 
who talks much and unnecessarily) 
was in common use until the i8th 
cent., from the time of Chaucer, who 
used it. The verb ' blabber ' was in 
use even earlier. 

Black Act, The : the Eng. statute 
of 1722, directed against certain 
lawless persons who designated 
themselves ' The Blacks,' and black- 
ened their faces as a naeans of 

Black Acts, The : acts of the Scottish 
Parliament passed between the 
accession of James I and 1587. So- 
called because they were printed in 
black characters. 

Black and blue. To beat a person : to 
beat a person until he is badly bruised. 
[Dryden, Sir Martin Marr-all, IV, i 
(1688)] ' Blak and bla ' and ' blak 
and bio ' were in use in the 13th 

Black and white : right and wrong. 
[Ascham, The Schoolmaster, Bk. I 

Black and white. In : in writing or print. 

Black for the ink, white for the paper. 

[Ben Jonson, Every Man in His 

Humour, IV, ii (1596)] 
Black Art, The : witchcraft. 
Black as a Newgate knocker : the New- 
gate knocker is the curl worn by coster- 
mongers and criminals. 
Black as night. As : [Spenser, Fairie 

Queen, VI, vii, 43 (1590-6)] 
Black as pitch. As : absolutely black. 

[Ovid, Ars Amatoria, II, 657-8 ; 

R. de Brunne, Handlyng Synne (1303) ; 

Earl of Sackville, A Mirrour for 

Magistrates (1563)] 
Black as soot. As : pitch black. [Jos. 

Hall, Satires, Bk. I, vii, 11. 21-2 (1597)] 
Blac^ as thunder. As : pitch black ; 

Black Assizes, The : assizes held at 

Oxford in 1577, when several hundred 

persons died of an epidemic. 
Black Bands : German mercenaries 

employed by Louis XII of France in 

his Italian wars. 


Black Bartholomew : St. Bartholomew's 
Day, 1661, on which, in consequence 
of the Act of Uniformity, 2,000 
Presbyterian pastors were ejected. 

Black book, A : a record of ofienders 
and oflences. 

Black books. To be in a person's : to be 
in disgrace with him. In the i6th 
cent, and later a Black Book was used 
for recording offenders. 

Black Brunswickers : troops raised by 
the Duke of Brunswick in 1809 to 
avenge the death of his father at the 
Battle of Auerstadt. Their uniforms 
were black, in mourning for the late 
Duke, and their badge a skuU-and- 

Black Cap, The : a cap worn by Eng. 
judges when pronouncing sentence of 
death ; properly, the cap that forms 
part of the full official dress of a 

Black Cattle : Negro slaves. 

Black Clergy, The : the Russian regular 
monastic Orders. The parish priests 
are called 'The White Clergy.' 

Black Coat, A : a parson ; in allusion to 
his dress. [Earle, Microcosmography : 
A Profane Man (1628)] 

Black Code, The : legislation regelating 
the treatment of negroes in the 
Southern of the U.S. before the 
emancipation of the slaves. Properly, 
the Code Noir or Black Code, intro- 
duced by Bienville, the French 
governor of Louisiana, about 1723. 

Black Country, The : the coal and iron 
districts of Staffordshire and Warwick- 
shire, on account of their grimy 

Black as a crow, As : [Apuleius, Meta- 
morphoseon, Bk. II, ix ; Chaucer, 
Knight's Tale {14th cent.)] 

Black Death, The : an epidemic of putrid 
typhus which ravaged Europe in the 
middle of the 14th cent, and is said to 
have carried off a quarter of the 
population of the world. 

Black Diamonds : coals. Coal and 
diamonds are closely allied chemically. 

Black Dog : (i) base coin, current in the 
early i8th cent. ; (2) depression ; ill- 

Black doe. To blush like a : not to blush 
at all. [Withal, Dictionarie (1634)] 

Black Douglas : William Douglas, Lord 
of Nithsdale (d. 1392). 

Black Eagle, Order of the : the highest 
Prussian order, founded by Frederick I 
iu 1701. 


Black Fast, The : the Jewish Day of 
Atonement, a day of strict abstention 
from food and drink. 

Black flag, A : the standard of a pirate ; 
also used as the announcement of the 
infliction of capital punishm.ent. 

Black Flags : (i) Chinese pirates in the 
service of Annam m the war with 
France ; orig. Chinese rebels ; (2) 
Moslem soldiers, from the colour of the 
banner of the Abbasides. 

Black Friday: (i) May 11, 1866, the 
date of the failure of Overend and 
Gumey, the Glasgow bankers, which 
led to a financial panic; (2) Dec. 6, 
1745, the day on which the news 
reached London that the Young 
Pretender had reached Derby ; (3) in 
the U.S. Sept. 24, 1869 and Sept. 18. 
1873, days of financial panic in New 
York ; (4) Good Friday, on account of 
the black vestments worn in the 
Roman Catholic Church. 

Black Oown, A : a parson, collegian, 
or other learned man. In allusion 
to the uniform of the two former 

Black as Hell, As : (i) pitch-black ; 
(2) infernally wicked. [Earl of Dorset, 
A Mirrour for Magistrates (1563)] 

Black Hole, A : a prison or place of 
internment of insufficient size. After 
the Black Hole of Calcutta [q.v.). 
Until 1868 it was the official designa- 
tion of 'a military place of punish- 

Black Hole 0! Calcutta : the small 
dungeon in which Surajah Dowlah 
placed his British prisoners in 1756. 
123 of the 146 prisoners died of 
suffocation or heat during the 

Bladk Horse, The : the 7th Dragoon 
Guards, whose facings are black. 

Blackasink, As : pitch black. [Spenser, 
The Faerie Queen, I, i, 22 (1590-6)] 

Black is white. To swoar : to swear what 
is visibly or obviously untrue. 

Black Ivory : Negro slaves. 

Black Jack : (i) John Alexander Logan 
(1826-86), American general ; so-caDed 
by his soldiers on account of his com- 
plexion and the colour of his hair ; 
(2) J. P. Kemble (1757-1823J, Eng. 
actor, for a similar reason. 

Black Jack, A : a large leather bottle 
with a tarred exterior. 

Black Letter : the heavy Gothic type used 
generally by the early printers in 


Black Letter Day, A : a day of mis- 
fortune ; from the practice of the 
Romans of marking such days in the 
calendar with charcoal. 

Black Letter Dogs : Antiquaries searching 
for Black-Letter books. 

Black List, A : (i) a list of persons 
under suspicion or noted as bad 
characters ; (2) in the Navy, a list of 

Black Man, The : the Devil. 

Black Maria, A : a popular name for the 
black vehicle in which criminals are 
conveyed to prison. Said to derive 
from a negress named Maria Lee (or 
Black Maria) of Boston, U.S., who 
used frequently to assist the police in 
controlling refractory prisoners. Other 
derivations are from ' black ' the colour 
of the vehicle, and ' marinated ' (trans- 
ported to a convict-settlement abroad) 
or ' married ' (chained to another 

Black Monday : (i) Easter Monday, on 
account of a great death-dealing storm 
which arose on that day in 1360 ; 
(2) in Melbourne, Feb. 27, 1865, the 
date of a wind-storm that caused great 
destruction ; (3) in use among school- 
boys for the first Monday after the 
return to school. 

Black Money : false money introduced 
into England in the time of the 

Black monkey : see Black dog. 

Black Museum, The : the collection of 
criminal relics at Scotland Yard, the 
headquarters of the London police. 

Black ox has trodden on his foot, A : 
misfortune has overtaken him. Black 
oxen were sacrificed to the gods of the 
Lower Regions. [Heywood, Proverbes 
(1546)] The phrase has special 
reference to marriage. The proverb, 
'The black ox never trod upon his 
foot,' means 'He is not married.' 
' The black ox hath trampled on him ' 
is an equivalent of ' He is hen-pecked.' 

Black Pope, The : the General of the 
Order of Jesuits. 

Black Prince, The : the eldest son of 
Edward III. On account of (i) the 
colour of his armour, or (2) the terror 
of his arms. [Froissart]. 

Black Republic, The : Hayti ; a West 
Indian State formed for the most part 
of negroes. 

Black Republicans : Republican oppo- 
nents of slavery, during the period which 
preceded the American Civil War. 

49 [Black 

Black Rod (properly. Gentleman Usher 
of the Black Rod) : an Eng. Court 
and Parliamentary official ; from his 
wand of office. 

Black Sanctus : a burlesque hymn ; a 
parody of the Sanctus, the hymn which 
concludes the Eucharistic preface. 

Black Saturday : in Scotland, Aug. 4, 
1 64 1, when the Scottish Parliament 
committed the country to episco- 

Black Saunt : see Black Sanctus. 

Black sheep, A : a person of bad 
character. In a flock a black sheep is 
of less value than its white fellows. 

Black swan, A : a great rarity. 

Black Thursday : Feb. 6, 1851, in 
Victoria, Australia ; a day on which 
many alarming bushfires following a 
long period ol drought did much 

Black to be white, To swear : to commit 

Black, To look : to look displeased. 
From the black clouds that indicate 
stormy weather. 

Black Watch, The : a regiment of High- 
landers, formerly the 43rd and after- 
wards the 42nd Regt. of the line. On 
account of their dark tartan uniform. 
They were orig. appointed to watch 
the Highlands. 

Black Wednesday : Jan. 8, 1878, on 
which a large number of civil servants 
in Victoria were dismissed in conse- 
quence of the refusal of the Legis- 
lative Council to pass the Appropri- 
ation Bill. 

Blacks, The : mourning ; mutes at 
funerals. See Bianchi and Neri. 

Blacks, The : the 7th Dragoon Guards. 
From the colour of their facings. 

Black-and-Tan, A : a member of the 
militarized police, temporary members 
of the Royal Irish Constabulary, 
recruited for service in Ireland in 1920. 
In allusion to their uniforms — black 
caps and khaki (tan) clothing. 

Black-and-tan Country, The : the 
Southern States of the N. Amer. Union. 
From the colour of the negro inhabi- 
tants and to ' tan,' to ' thrash ' — the 
country where the negroes were 

Black-and- White artist, A : an artist 
who draws in ink or black crayon on a 
white surface. 

Black-birder, A : a vessel engaged in 
conveying Kanaka labour to the place 
of its emplo5mient. 


Black-fisher, A : one who engages in 

Black-fishing : the catching of salmon, 
which have just spawned, by torch- 
Ught at night. 

Blackamoor, A : a dark-skinned person ; 
properly a W. African. 

Blackamoor white. To wash a : to under- 
take an impossible task. From the 
fable of iEsop, Washing the Blackamoor 

Blackamoors' teeth : cowry -shells, 
widely used as money by natives of 

Blackball, To : to ostracize, or refuse 
membership to a club or society. 
From the black ball formerly used to 
signify the negative in the ballot for 

Blackfoot, A : a messenger between the 
two parties to a love-affair. 

Blackfiriar, A : a Dominican ; on account 
of the colour of his garb. 

Blackguards : men of bad character, 
esp. criminal loafers of the lower 
classes, or in a higher rank of society 
swindlers and men prone to dishonour- 
able conduct. Orig. the servants of 
the lowest rank in a palace or in the 
army, who were called ' blackguards ' 
on account of their grimy appearance 
as contrasted with the guards of 
honour and other guards. While on 
journeys their duty was to guard the 
kitchen utensils. 

Blackguard, To : to abuse in insulting 

Blackleg, A : one who, not a member of 
a trade union, replaces a workman out 
on strike (1889). Formerly one who 
swindled on the turf or in other 
gambling occupations. These latter 
generally wore black gaiters or high 

Blackmail : payment to avoid exposure 
or annoyance. Originally, tribute 
levied on residents on the Scot.-Eng. 
border by freebooters in order to 
secure freedom from molestation. 

Blacksmith's Daughter, The : a key, esp. 
that of a sponging-house. 

Blacksmith, The Learned : Elihu Bumtt 
(181 1-79), Amer. author. 

Blackthorn Winter, A : cold weather, 
when the blackthorn is in blossom. 

Blade, A : a young man about town, of 
good spirits, somewhat self-indulgent, 
but inspired by no deliberately evil 
intent. Possibly connected with 
' blade,' a sword, on account of the 

50 [Blatant 

swords such men formerly wore. The 
sense of the word has degenerated 
since the i8th cent. [The Merry 
Devil of Edmonton, 1. 262 (1608)] 
Blague (/^y.) : humbug. [Introduced by 
Carlyle, French Revolution, V, vi 


Blanes d'Espagne : the extreme French 
royalists who support the claim of the 
Spanish Bourbons to the French 

Blank cheque to . . To give a : to give 
unlimited or undefined authority. A 
blank cheque is a cheque which has 
been signed without the amount to 
be paid having been inserted. 

Blanket Fair : (i) the fair held on the 
Thames during the great frost of 
1683-4 ; (2) a bed. 

Blanket, On the wrong side of the : of 
illegitimate birth. 

Blanket term, A : an omnibus term ; a 
term describing an important member 
of a group extended to cover the 
whole of the group. An Americanism. 

Blanket, A wet : one who seeks to dis- 
courage others in an enterprize, who 
looks on the gloomy side, who ' throws 
cold water ' on an undertaking, etc. 
[R. Cumberland, The Fashionable 
Lover, I, i (1772)] 

Blanketeers : (i) Lancashire working- 
men who, furnished with provisions 
and a blanket, marched to London in 
1 81 7 to demand assistance from Parlia- 
ment ; (2) a party of unemployed who 
marched on the American Congress 
with blankets on their backs in 1894. 

Blarney : flattery. From the Blarney 
Stone at Blarney Castle, Ireland, 
which is said to endow him who kisses 
it with the power of cajolery. The 
reputation of the stone may have been 
derived from the endless plausible 
excuses invented by Lord Clancarty in 
1602 to relieve him of the necessity of 
fulfilling his promise to surrender 
Blarney Castle to the Queen's forces. 

Blarney-stone, To kiss the : to be given 
to the practice of wheedling flattery, 
such as that which is supposed to be 
characteristic of the Irish. See 

Blatant Beast, The: (i) calumny; a 
term invented by Spenser in his 
Faerie Queen (1590-6) to describe the 
child of Cerberus and Chimaera, in 
whom calumny was symbolized ; (2) 
the multitude. [Spenser, The Returne 
from Parnassus (1606)] 



Blayney's Bloodhounds : the 2nd Batta- 
lion of Princess Victoria's Irish Fusiliers 
(form, the 89th Foot). Alter their 
colonel. Lord Blaney, and their tireless 
pursuit of the Irish rebels in 1798. 
Blazer, A : a sporting jacket of light, 
bright colour or colours. From 'to 
blaze.' First applied to that worn (a 
bright red) by the members of the 
Lady Margaret Boat Club of St. John's 
College, Cambridge. 

Blazes ! Go to : a euphuism for ' Go to 
hell ! ' In allusion to the fires that 
are supposed to blaze there. 

Bleed a person. To : to extort money 
from a person. [Dryden, An Evenivg's 
Love. IV. i (1668)] 

Bleed a person white. To : to extort the 
last penny from him. 

Bleeding Kansas : the State of Kansas, 
U.S. ; so-called on account of its 
many fights over the slavery question. 
Orig. coined as a newspaper headline. 

Blenheim Spaniels : the electors of 
Oxford who for a long period could be 
trusted to vote in accordance with the 
wishes of the Duke of Marlborough, 
whose residence was at Blenheim. 

Blenheim Steps, To go to : said of a 
corpse surreptitiously removed from 
its grave and sold for dissection. 
There was formerly a famous ana- 
tomical school at Blenheim Steps, 
where corpses found a ready m.arket. 

Blighty : English and Anglo-Indian 
soldiers' term for England. Possibly 
from Urdu walayate. foreign, akin to 
Turkish vilayet. 

Blind, A : a pretence, in the sense of that 
which deceives or mentally blinds a per- 
son. [South, Sermons II, 208 (1664)] 

Blind alley, A : a street, or road, closed 
at one end ; a cul-de-sac. ' Blind ' 
in the sense of secret, dark. 

Bliad as a bat : bats are not blind but 
are unable to distinguish objects in a 
good light. 

Blind as a beetle : beetles are not blind, 
but fiying ones sometimes knock 
against people and objects as if they 
were so. 

Blind as a harper. As : blind. In 
allusion to the many blind minstrels 
who used to wander about the country. 
[Lilly, Sapho and Phao, IV, iii (1591)] 

Blind as a mole : moles are not blind, 
but have very small eyes. In one 
species the eyes are covered by 
membranes and it was probably to 
these that Aristotle referred when he 
said ' The mole is blind.' 


Blind as an owl, As : owls are not blind, 
but see better in the dusk than by day. 

Blind Bard, The : Homer. 

Blind Boy, The : Cupid, the Roman god 
of love ; depicted as a blind boy. 

Blind Department, The : the department 
of the Post Office which deals with 
insufficiently or obscurely addressed 

Blind ditch, A : a hidden ditch : see 
Blind alley. 

Blind eye. To have (apply) the : deliber- 
ately to ignore or pretend not to see 
that which is inconvenient. After 
the story of Lord Nelson who at the 
Battle of Copenhagen applied his 
telescope to his blind eye so as to 
avoid seeing an inconvenient signal. 

Blind Harry : a Scottish minstrel 
(d. c. 1492). 

Blind hedge, A : a hawthorn hedge, not 
easily detected : see Blind alley. 

Blind Hookey : a leap in the dark. 
After a card game so-called. 

Blind in the purse : poor. {Rare 
Triumphs of Love and Fortune, III, 
1. 93 (1589)] 

Blind journey. To have a : to have a 
fruitless journey. [Hy. Porter, Two 
Angry Women of Abington,' 1. 2569 

Blind leaders of the blind : see the 
allusion to the Pharisees in Matthew 
XV, 14 ; also Plato, Republic, viii. 

Blind man's holiday : the period of 
dusk, when it is too dark to work, but 
not yet dark enough to justify the 
use of artificial light. [Nashe, Lenten 
Stuffe (1599)] 

Blind man's lantern : a blind man's 

Blind manuscripts : anonymous manu- 
scripts. [Fenton, Treatise of Usurie 

Blind side of a man, The : the tender or 
yielding part of a man's nature. 
[Chapman, The Gentleman Usher, I, i 

Blind Blaster, The : Cupid. See Blind 

Blind men's diimer. The : a meal for 
which no payment was made. From 
the story of the twelve blind men who 
obtained a good dinner at an inn, each 
believing that one of the others had 
received a gift wherewith to pay for it. 

Blind writing : writing in ink intended 
to fade. 

Blizzard, A : a violent gale of snow and 
sleet. A word of Amer. origin, not in 
general use before 1880, but known as 

BIoo] 52 

eaxly as 1834. Perhaps onomatopoeic 
in origin. 

Bloc, A : a close co-operation between 
Pzirties in a Parliament, in support 
of a common policy. 

Block, Ben : a sailor. 

Block a bill, To : to prevent progress of 
a bill in Parliament by means of 
making full use of the forms of the 

Blockade, A pacific : a blockade exer- 
cised without a declaration of war and 
without the use of arms. 

Blockade, A paper : a blockade that is 
merely nominal or ineffective. 

Blockhead, A : a stupid person. Lit., a 
wooden-head. [Coverdale, Erasmus' 
Paraphrase, I xl, 14 (1549)] 

Bloke, A : a somewhat contemptuous 
term for a man. 

Blood, A : a rake, a man of pleasure. 
' Blood ' as the seat of the emotions, or as 
denoting good or noble family. [Thos. 
Kyd, Jeronimo, Pt. I, 1. 76 (1591)] 

Blood and Iron, The Man of: Prince 
Otto von Bismarck, Germ, statesman 
(1815-98). From a phrase in a speech 
made by him before the Budget Com- 
mission of the Prussian House of 
Delegates in 1862. The phrase had 
previously been used by him in a letter 
to Baron von Schleinitz, the Foreign 
Minister, in May, 1859. Bismarck did 
not, however, coin the phrase. It had 
been employed by (i^ Quintilian, the 
Rom. rhetorician (c. 35 to 95) ; (2) 
Ernst Moritz Amdt, the Germ, patriot, 
political writer and poet (1769-1860) ; 
(3) by others. 

Blood and thunder novel, A : cheap, 
sensational fiction. 

Blood, Bad : ill-feeling. [Bacon, 
Henry VII (1622)] 

Blood, Blue : see Blue. 

Blood boil. To make one's : to arouse 
to anger. [Benj. Franklin, Poor 
Richard's Almanac for 1742] 

Blood from a stone. To attempt to get 
(draw) : to endeavour to obtain some- 
thing from a person who does not 
possess it. 

Blood into . . To infuse new : to intro- 
duce new and vital elements into , . 

Blood of the Orograms : pseudo- 
aristocracy. From ' grogram ' a 
material composed of silk and mohair, 
from Fr. gros, coarse, and Engl. 

Blood, The Man of : Charles I ; so-called 
by the Puritans on account of his 
armed opposition to them. 


Blood, A Prince of the : i.e., of the 
Blood Royal. 

Blood Tax, The : (i) the section of the 
Crimes Act of 1882 which authorized 
the levy of a fine on a district in which 
a political murder had been committed; 
(2) military conscription, so-described 
by Gen. Maximilian Sebastian Foy in 
the French Chamber, May 28, 1824. 

Blood, To run in the : to be inherited or 
heritable. [Evelyn, Diary, (Apl. 1646)] 

Blood, To taste : to enjoy a pleasure for 
the first time. 

Blood upon the head of . . : responsi- 
bility for murder or other offence. 
[Joshua, ii, 19] 

Blood, A young : a young energetic 
member of a political party or other 

Blood money : (i) money paid to a man 
as an inducement to him to betray or 
give evidence against another ; (2) 
money paid to a man as an inducement 
to forego the right to revenge. 

Blood-sucker, A : one who extorts money 
from another. [Jasper Fisher, Fuimus 
Troes, III, i (1633) ; for To suck a per- 
son's blood used in this sense, see 
Descriptioyi of an Ungodly World, 1. 49 


Bloody Assizes, The : the trials by Judge 
Jeffreys in the West of England after 
the suppression of Monmouth's 
Rebellion (1685), when very many 
people were condemned to death and 

Bloody Bill, The : the Statute of the Six 
Articles (1539), which made denial of 
the doctrine of Transubstantiation a 
capital offence. 

Bloody Butcher, The : see Butcher of 

Bloody Chasm, To bridge the : to soften 
the memory of the Amer. Civil War 
and its effects. 

Bloody Eleventh, The: the nth Regt. 
of Foot, now the Devonshire Regt. 
From their heavy losses in the Battle 
of Salamanca, and elsewhere. 

Bloody Mary: Mary I, Queen of England. 
On account of her persecution of the 

Bloody Tower, The : that part of the 
Tower of London in which the bodies 
of the two princes, murdered in 1483, 
were buried. 

Bloody Wedding, The : the Massacre of 
St. Bartholomew, which took place 
dunng the marriage-festivities of 
Henry of Navarre (Henri IV) and 
Marguerite de Valois (1572). 


Bloody Week, The : May 21-28, 1871, 
when Paris was set on fire by the 

Bloomers : knickerbockers for women. 
After Amelia Jenks Bloomer, the 
Amer. inventor of the costume 

Blot on the * Scutcheon,' A : a stain on 
the character. Metaphor drawn from 

Blow great guns, To : (of the wind) to 
blow so fiercely as to resemble the 
discharge of artillery. [Charles Dibdin 
(i 745-1 81 4), The Sailor's Consolation] 
Also used metaphorically. 

Blow hot and cold, To : to affirm and to 
contradict at the same time. From 
the fable of a traveller who was enter- 
tained by a satyr who blew his fingers 
to warm them and his broth to cool it. 
[W. BuUinger, Decades (1577)] 

Blow the coals, To : to inflame passion ; 
to excite discord. [Lyly, Enphues : 
Anatomy of Wit (1579)] 

Blow off steam, To : to disperse one's 
superfluous energy. 

Blow one's own trumpet. To : see 

Blows, To come to : to fight. 

Bluchers : military half-boots, as worn 
by Field-Marshal Gebhard von 
Bliicher (1742-18191. 

Blue, A : (i) at Oxford or Cambridge, 
Eton or Harrow, a representative of 
the Univ. or school in sport ; (2) a 
blue stocking (q.v.). 

Blue, To : to squander ; to spend reck- 
lessly. From either (i) to pass into 
the blue, i.e., into the sky or the blue 
sea, or (2; to blow away. 

Blue, Out of the : quite unexpectedly. 

Blue Apron, A : (i) a tradesman, from 
the apron formerly worn by all shop- 
keepers; (2) an amateur statesman. 
See next entry. 

Blue Apron Statesman, A : an amateur 
politician ; a tradesman who poses as 
a statesman. From the blue apron 
formerly worn by all tradesmen. 

Blue beans : bullets. From the colour 
of lead. 

Blue Bird, The : happiness. Alter 
Maeterlinck's play of that name. 

Blue Blazes : Hell, in allusion to the 
colour of burning sulphur. 

Blue Blood : royal or noble birth ; orig. 
used in Spain to denote freedom from 
Jewish or Moorish taint. In the fair 
Gothic type the veins show blue 
through the skin. 

53 [Blae 

Blue, A bolt from the : see Bolt. 

Blue Bonnets : see Blue Caps. 

Blue Book, A : an Eng. Parliamentary or 
Privy Council publication. From the 
colour of the paper cover in which 
they are bound. Hence any govern- 
ment publication. 

Blue Bottle, A : a policeman ; a servant ; 
a beadle ; a harlot. From the colour 
of their clothing, the last-mentioned in 
the House of Correction. 

Blue Caps ; Blue Bonnets : (i) Scotsmen; 
from the colour of the caps worn by 
them ; (2) the Dublin Fusiliers ; 
from the reference to them during the 
Indian Mutiny by Nana Sahib as 
' blue-capped.' 

Blue, Dark (A) : a student of Oxford or 
scholar of Harrow. From the Uni- 
versity and school colours. 

Blue Devils, To get the : to become un- 
reasonably and morbidly depressed. 
[Steine, Letters, No. 33 (1762)] 

Blue dog. To blush like a : not to blush 
at all. [Swift (Simon Wagstaff). 
Polite Conversation (1738)] 

Blue Fish, The : the shark. From the 
colour of its upper parts. 

Blue flag. To hoist the : to turn publican 
or fishmonger, in allusion to the blue 
aprons worn in those trades. 

Blue glasses. To look through : to regard 
objects wrongly. 

Blue God, The : Neptune, the god of 
the sea. 

Blue Gown, A : (i) in Scotland, a 
licensed beggar, from the colour of his 
attire ; the Bluegowns were orig. 
patronized and authorized to beg by 
the kings of Scotland ; (2) a harlot ; 
from the colour of their former uniform 
in the House of Correction. 

Blue Grass State, The : Kentucky, 
which includes the blue grass 

Blue Guards, The : the Royal Horse 
Guards, formerly the Oxford Blues. 

Blue Hen, The : Delaware. The name 
was derived from the ' Gantie Cock 
Regt.' raised in Delaware, which 
distinguished itself in the War of 
Independence. One of its officers, 
Capt. Caldwell, a game-cock fancier, 
held the view that a true game-cock 
must be the offspring of a blue hen. 
Hence the appellation. 

Blue Horse, The : the Fourth Dragoons. 
From the colour of their facings. 

Blue Law State, The : Connecticut : see 
next entry. 


Blue Laws : supposed draconic laws 
enacted in Connecticut in 1640, by 
which several offences, even dis- 
obedience to parents, were made 
capital. Hence a general name for 
Puritanical legislation. 

Blue Light, A : a person of excessive 
and unconcealed piety. Nautical 

Blue, A Light : a student at Cambridge 
University and scholar of Eton. 
From the University and school 

Blue, A Man in : a policeman. From 
the colour of his uniform. 

Blue Monday : (i) the Monday be/ore 
Lent ; a day of dissipation ; {2) a 
workingman's Monday spent in idle- 
ness and dissipation. 

Blue Moon, Once in a : exceedingly 
rarely. [Roy and Barlow, Rede Me 
and be not wrothe (1528)] 

Blue Noses : Nova Scotians. After the 
name of a potato grown widely in that 
Province, or possibly in allusion to the 
coldness of the winter there. 

Blue Peter : (i) a flag hoisted by a 
vessel as a signal of immediate sailing ; 
(2) the playing of an unnecessarily 
high card at whist as a signal to one's 
partner. ' Peter ' is a corruption of 
partir, to set out. 

Blue Ribbon, The : (i) a distinction of the 
highest character ; probably from the 
blue ribbon of the Order of the Garter, 
the highest Eng. Order of knighthood ; 
(2) a badge of total abstention from 
alcoholic liquor ; after the Blue Ribbon 
Army {q.v.). 

Blue Ribbon Army : a band of total 
abstainers from alcoholic liquor, who 
wear a small piece of blue ribbon as 
a badge. Instituted in 1882. 

Blue Ribbon of the Turf, The : the 
Derby, the principal Eng. horse-race. 
So designated by Lord Beaconsfield 
in the Life of Lord George BentUick 

Blue Roses : unattainable objects of 
desire. Blue roses were unknown 
until a few years ago, when the 
Germans introduced a climbing-rose 
called Veilchonblau (violet blue). 

Blue Stocking, A : a learned, somewhat 
pedantic woman. After The Blue 
Stocking Club, a literary society, 
founded by Mrs. Elizabeth Montagu 
(1720- 1 800), about 1750, to which 
one of the members (Benjamin Stilling- 
fleet) came in blue worsted, instead of 

54 [Bluff 

the usual silk stockings. It is said, 
however, that the blue stockings were 
first worn not at Mrs. Montagu's but at 
Mrs. Vesey's, and by a Frenchman 
who took his invitation literally, ' You 
may come in your blue stockings if 
you like.' 

Blue, To look : to appear annoyed. 
[Lilly, Sapho and Phao, II, iii 

Blae, To talk : to be indecent in con- 
versation, possibly from the colour of 
the uniform worn by harlots in the 
House of Correction. 

Blue True : thoroughly reliable and 
steadfast ; loyal ; conservative. See 
Coventry Blue, True as. Blue was 
considered the colour of truth and 
loyalty as far back as Ancient 

Bines, The : see Blue Devils. 

Blue-eyed Maid, The : Minerva ; so-called 
by Homer. 

Bluejacket, A : a sailor. In allusion to 
the colour of his costume. 

Blue-mantle : the Eng. pursuivant-at- 
arms. From the colour of his official 

Blue-pencil, To : (of an editor) to delete 
portions of a M.S. From the blue 
pencil usually employed in the 

Bluebeard, A : a brutal husband ; one 
who marries and murders wife after 
wife successively. From the name of 
a character in a popular tale told by 
Charles Perrault (1628-1703), based 
perhaps on the career of Gilles de 
Laval, Baron de Retz (1396-1440), 
Marshal of France. 

Bluecoat Boy, A : a pupil at Christ's 
Hospital. From the colour of the 
school uniform. 

Bluecoat School : Christ's Hospital. 
From the colour of the school uniform. 

Bluejackets : sailors as distinct from 
marines. From the colour of their 

Bluewater School, The : the school that 
holds the view that the function of a 
navy in war is to seek out and attack 
the enemy and not to concentrate its 
efforts on defence. 

Bluff, To : to deceive or hoodwink. A 
card-term adopted from the game of 
poker, possibly related to ' bluff ' in 
the sense of a blinker for a horse. 

Bluff Hal (Harry) : Henry VIII of 
England. On account of his bluff and 
burly manners. 


Blush, At a : Blash, At first : at first 
sight, speaking without consideration. 
In allusion to the habit of blushing 
when taken by surprise. [For 'At a 
blush,' Lilly, Gallathea, II, iii (1592) ; 
for 'At first blush,' Gosson, Schoole of 
Abuse, Ep. Declic. (1579)] 

Bo, Big : see Big Bo. 

Bo-peep with. To play : to hide from 
while keeping the other person in view. 
[Hy. Porter, Two Angry Women of 
Abivgton, i, 2037 (1599)] 

Bo to a goose, To say : to be not 
altogether lacking in courage. A 
proverbial phrase of considerable 
antiquity. [Arnim, Italian Taylor and 
His Boy (1609)] 

Boanerges : a loud, over-bearing speaker. 
From Boanerges, ' the sons of thunder,' 
the name given to James and John, 
the sons of Zebodee. [Mark, iii, 17] 

Board, To go by the : to be finally lost. 
A nautical term, meaning to fall over- 
board or by the ship's side. [Defoe, 
Captain Singleton (1720)] 

Board School, A : a Public Ele- 
mentary School in England, managed 
by a School Board. School Boards 
were abolished by Parliament in 1904. 

Board, To sweep the : to secure evt.ry- 
thing. Orig. a card-term, meaning to se- 
cure all the stakes on the board or table. 

Board wages : an allowance to domestic 
servants in lieu of board or food. 

Boards, The : the rtage. From the 
wooden planks of which it is formed. 

Boat as (with) another. To be (row) in the 
same : to be involved in the same 
circumstances as another. First used 
by Pope Clement I (c. 30-100) in a 
letter to the Church at Corinth on the 
occasion of a dissension. Probably a 
reference to a boat launched from a 
wrecked ship. 

Boat sails in smooth waters, One's : the 
opportunity is favourable. [Tibullus, 
I. V, 75-6] 

Boats (behind one). To burn one's : by 
destroying one's means of retreat to 
strengthen one's courage for the 
assault. Armies were encouraged 
for victory in this manner by Aga- 
thocles of Syracuse in his expedition 
against Carthage (310-307 B.C.) ; the 
Emperor Julian in his expedition 
against Persia (363 B.C.) ; Robert 
Guiscard, Duke of Apulia and Calabria, 
in his expedition against Emperor 
Alexius (1084) ; and Hernando Cortes 
on the invasion of Mexico (1519). 

55 [Boeotian 

Bob Acres, A : a coward ; a ludicrous 
boaster. After a character in Sheridan, 
The Rivah (1775). 

Bob Sawyer, A : a medical student of 
not very high moral character. After 
a character in Dickens, Pickwick 
Papers (1836). 

Bobadil, A : a boasting blusterer. After 
a character in Ben Jonson, Every Man 
in his Humour (1596). 

Bobbing Joan : the Earl of Mar of 1715, 
who displayed opportunism in support 
of the two rival dynasties of Stuart 
and Hanover. After the name of an 
old dance. 

Bobby, A : a slang nickname for a 
policeman. From Sir Robert Peel, the 
Home Secretary, who passed the 
Metropolitan Police Act of 1828, 
' Bobby ' being a pet-name for Robert. 

Bob-wig, A : a wig with bobs or short 
curls ; hence, an important personage. 

Bocardo, A : a prison ; a dungeon. 
After the name of a prison in Oxford, 
demolished in 1771. 

Boche ; Bosche, A : a term of insult 
and contempt applied since 19 14 to 
Germans, esp. by the French. From 
Germ., bursch, a lad, or from burschen, 
to shoot (with a rifie). Another 
derivation is from Les Alboches, an 
invented nickname connoting ' The 
Blockheads,' given by French printers 
to their German colleagues a few years 
before the outbreak of the War of 
1 870-1. Alboche itself was derived 
from boche, a French colloquial term 
coined about the year i860 to designate 
a person of bad character. 

Bock-beer : a kind of Lager-beer. From 
Germ., Bock-bier, a corruption of 
Einbecker, from Einbeck, Hanover, 
famous for its beers. 

Bodkin, To walk : of a walking 
between two women. Because, like a 
bodkin, he is sheathed and harmless. 

Body and soul together. To keep : to 
sustain life. [Maria Edgev/orth, 
Castle Rackrent (1799)] 

Body Politic, The : the State. [Bacon, 
Essays : Of Seditions and Troubles 

Body-snatcher, A : one who opened a 
grave in order to steal the body from 
it and sell it for dissection. The 
earliest known instance of this offence 
occurred in 1777. 

Boeotian : stupid, foolish. After 
Boeotia, in ancient Greece ; the inhabi- 
tants were proverbially rude and stupid . 


Boeotian eara : ears that have no sense 
of music or of eloquence. 

Boer, A : a Dutch inhabitant of S. 
Africa ; akin to boor. From Germ., 
bauer, a peasant. 

Bog-trotters : robbers infesting the bogs 
of Ireland. 

Bogus : counterfeit. Of Amer. origin, 
said to have appeared first in 1827 to 
represent an implement for coining 
false money and to have been derived 
from ' tantrabogus,' a word applied in 
Vermont to any ugly object. Another 
derivation is from Borghese, a swindler 
who about the year 1837 specialized in 
Boston in the manufacture and 
passing of false and worthless secur- 

Bohea : a class of tea. After a range of 
hills in China. 

Bohemian, A : one who leads a free, 
unconventional life apart from the 
society to which he naturally belongs. 
Used esp. of men of artistic or literary 
tastes and occupations. The word 
used in this sense was introduced by 
W. M. Thackera-Y inV unity Fair (1847). 
In French it had been previously used 
to denote a vagabond, adventurer, 
person of irregular life or habits — a 
transference of the sense of gypsy. The 
word was first used to denote ' gypsy ' 
in the 15th cent, when, on their 
appearance in Western Europe, the 
gypsies were thought to have come 
from Bohemia. 

Bohemian Tartar, A : a gypsy. By the 
French, gypsies are called ' Bohe- 
miens ' ; by the Germans, ' Tartars.' 
Shakespeare combined both terms in 
Merry Wives of Windsor, IV, v 

Boil a bone. To : to act foolishly and to 
no purpose. From an ancient Grk. 

Bold Beauchamp : see Beauchamp, As 
bold as. 

Bold as brass. As : i.laring ; audaciously 

Bologna, A : a sausage of the kind orig. 
made at Bologna, Italy. 

Bolshevik, A : an extreme revolutionary. 
The Anglicized form of the name of a 
socialist-political Party in Russia. 
Russ., Bolshinstivs, majority ; from 
the majority who voted with Lenin at 
the Russian Socialist Congress held in 
London in 1903. 

Bolt, To : to break away from a political 

56 [Bond 

Bolt from the blue, A : a sudden and 
surprising event, like a thunder- 
bolt from the sky. [Horace, I 
Ode, xxxiv, 5-8 ; Virgil, /Ereid, IX, 

Bolt-upright : as straight as a bolt or 
an arrow. ' Upright ' orig. meant 
straight, not necessarily vertical. 

Bolus, A : a dispensing chemist. After 
the bolus which he dispenses. 

Bomba : Ferdinand II of Naples and 
Sicily (1810-59) On account of his 
having bombarded his people. See 
also Bombalino. 

Bombalino or Bcmba n : Francis II, the 
last king of the two Sicilies (1836-94). 
See Bomba. 

Bombast : empty boasting. From Low 
Lat., bornbax, cotton, which was 
formerly used for stufi&ng clothing, to 
give a deceptive appearance ol a fine 

Bombastes Furioso, A : a boaster and 
employer of long words. After the 
hero of a play so-entitled by W. B. 
Rhodes (1772-1826). 

Bon mot, A(i^>.,good saying): an epigram, 
witty saying, or repartee. [First used 
in English by Jonathan Swift.] 

Bon ton {Fr.) : good style ; fashionable 
society. [Chesterfield, Letters, Bk. II, 
No. 20 (1747)] 

Bon vivant, A {Fr., living well) : a 
gourmet ; one devoted to comforts, 
esp. of the table. 

Bon voyage I {Ft., a good journey to 
you !) [15th cent.] 

Bona fide [Lat) : in good faith ; genuine. 
Orig. a legal term. [Rob. Wilson, 
Three Ladies of London, II, 1, 931 

Bona Roba, A : a loose woman. Ital., 
buona roba, good dress ; attractive 
clothing being customary with Italian 
courtesans. [Shakespeare, 2 Henry IV, 
III, ii, 267 (1597-8)] 

Bona Socia, A : a boon companion. 

Bonanza, A : a stroke of luck. After 
the Bonanza silver-mine in Nevada 
which was at first considered a failure 
but which suddenly produced im- 
mense wealth. 

Bonanza State : Nevada. After its 
rich Bonanza mines. 

Bond, To have one's : to have one's legal 
rights no matter how the other party 
to the transaction may be affected. In 
allusion to one of the main incidents 
of the plot of Shakespeare, Merchant 
of Venice (1596). 


Bone, To : to filch ; to seize as a dog 
seizes a bone. [Shakespeare, 2 Henry 
VI, I, iii, (1593), where 'bone' 
is used in the sense of finger] 

Bone, To bite near the : to be grasping. 
[Geo. Cavendish, Life and Death of 
Wolsey {1557)] 

Bone, To boil a : see Boil. 

Bone of one's bone and flesh of one's 
flesh : closely related, of the same 
family. [Genesis, ii, 23] 

Bone of contention, A : a cause of 
difference or dispute, as a bone between 
two dogs. [Lambarde, Perambula- 
tion of Kent (1576)] 

Bone in one's leg. To have a : an excuse, 
frequently given to children for re- 
fraining from exertion. 

Bone to pick with . . To have a : to 
have cause for recriminatory dis- 
cussion with .. [Calfhill, Answere to 
the Treatise of the Crosse, t.'j'j (1565)] 

Bone in one's throat. To have a : an 
excuse for not answering a ques- 

Bones to one's ass, To give straw to 
one's dog and : see Give. 

Bones, To break no : to do no harm. 
[Goldsmith, The Good-natured Man, 
III, i, (1768)] 

Bones of . . To make no : to have no 
hesitation. Orig., to find no bones 
{i.e., obstruction) in. [The Paston 
Letters, 331, I (1422-1509)] 

Bones, To maike old : to live to a good 
old age. 

Bone-lace : a kind of lace made by 
means of bobbins of bone. 

Bone-setter, A : a surgeon. [Brome, 
Queen and Concubine (1659)] 

Bone-shaker, A : (i) a bicycle without 
rubber tyres ; in allusion to the rough 
course it pursues when ridden ; (2) a 
four-wheeled cab. 

Boney : Napoleon I. A term used by 
the English, contracted from the 
surname Buonaparte. 

Bonhomme, A : a member of a branch 
of the Order of Franciscans. The 
term ' Bon Homme ' (good man) was 
applied to their founder, St. Francis 
de Paula, by Louis XI of France. 

Bonhomme, Jacques : see Jacques Bon- 

Boniface, A : the host of an inn, esp. 
a good-tempered, cheery one. After 
(i) a character in Farquhar's Beaux' 
Stratagem (1707) ; or possibly (2) 
Pope Boniface, who granted ind ulgences 
to all who drank the Pope's health. 

57 [Book 

Boniface's Cup, St. : a glass of wine at 
the conclusion of a meal ; in allusion 
to the indulgence granted by Pope 
Boniface to all who drank the Pope's 
health on the conclusion of a meal 
after grace. 

Bonne Bouohe {Fr., a good mouth) : a 
dainty morsel ; an unexpected stroke 
of luck. 

Bonnet, A Blue : see Blue Caps. 

Bonnet Rouge i,Fr.) A : (i) the red Cap 
of Liberty, emblem of Republicanism, 
introduced at the first French Revolu- 
tion; (2) a Republican. 

Bonnet-piece, A : a Scotch gold coin on 
which King James V was depicted 
wearing a bonnet. 

Bonnet, To have a green : to have failed 
in business. After the French custom 
until as late as the 17th cent, of 
obliging bankrupts to wear green 

Bonnet, To play the : to act as a decoy 
for rogues. Because he blinds his 
dupes just as if he knocks their hats 
over their eyes. 

Bonnet, To vale the : to take off one's 
hat to . . [Lilly, Endimion, III, iii 

Bono Johnny : John Bull. Current in 
the East Indies. 

Bontemps, A Roger : [Fr., rouge bon 
temps, reddish and fair weather) : a 
cheery optimist ; a free boon com- 
panion. [Jas. Howell, Familiar 
Letters, Bk. IV, Letter xix (c. 1647)] 

Booby-trap, A : a practical joke, played 
by schoolboys. 

Boodle : (i) a number of people ; used 
contemptuously ; (2) money used for 
bribery (American). 

Book, A : an arrangement of bets by a 
bookmaker whereby he is almost 
certain to win on the whole. 

Book and Candle, Bell : see Bell. 

Book, Blue : see Blue Book. 

Book in Breeches, A : Lord Macaulay 
(1800-59). So-called by Sydney Smith, 
on account of his wide knowledge. 

Book of Books, The : the Bible. 

Book of Hours, A : see Hours. 

Book of Idiots, A : a picture. [Bp. 
Joseph Hall, Characters : Premcmition 

Book of Life, The : the record of those 
who are to be for ever blessed. 
[Revelations, xx, 12] 

Book of the Four Kings, The : a pack of 
cards. [Rabelais, Gargantua and 
Pantagruel, I, 22 (1532)] 


Book, The : the Bible. fi2th cent.] 

Book, The People of the : the Jews. 
So-called by Mahomet. 

Book, To bring to : to bring to account. 

Book, To speak by the : to speak with 
punctilious care for the accuracy of 
one's statements. 

Book, To speak like a : to be well pro- 
vided with and free of information. 

Book, To speak without : to speak with- 
out authority ; to speak extempor- 
aneously. [Hy. Porter, Two Angry 
Women of Abington, 1. 1576 (1599)] 

Book, To suit one's : to fall in with one's 
arrangements. A betting metaphor. 
See Book, A. 

Book, To write without one's : to speak 
or write without knowledge. 

Books, Out of one's : no longer in 
favour. From the early practice of 
entering the names of one's retainers 
in a book. It was also customary to 
enter one's friends' names in a book. 

Books, To be in a person's bad : to be out 
of favour with a person. 

Books, To be in a person's good : to be 
in favour with a person. From the 
early practice of entering the names 
of one's retainers and servants in a 
book. It was also customary to enter 
one's friends' names in a book. 

Book-maker, A : a betting agent who 
selects the bets he accepts and arranges 
them in a book so that in no circum- 
stances is he likely to suffer loss. See 
Book, A. 

Bookworm, A : a person devoted to 
reading. Lit., a maggot which makes 
its home in books and eats into them. 
According to Revelations, x, 9, the 
angel, in giving St. John the book 
with the seven seals, said, ' Take it, 
and eat it up ; and it shall make thy 
belly bitter, but it shall be in thy 
mouth sweet as honey.' 

Boom, To ; Boom, A : (a commercial 
term) (a) to burst into favour with the 
public ; {b) a sudden great demand for 
a commodity, a sudden great success. 
A nautical metaphor, popularized in 
this country and in U.S. in 1879. 

Boom, To top one's : to depart. A 
nautical metaphor. 

Boon companion, A : a cheerful, jovial 
companion. Lit., good (Fr., bon) 
companion. [Thomas Drant, A 
Medicinable M or all (1566)] 

Boost, To : to assist upwards. An 

Boot forth. To : to go out ; sally forth. 

58 [Borough 

Boot to be on the other leg. The : the 

responsibility to be transferred to the 
other party. 

Boot, To get the : to be dismissed ; 
kicked out. 

Boots, To go to bed in one's : to be very 

Boot-jack : see Jack. 

Booty, To play : to give a person in the 
first instance a slight advantage so as 
ultimately to derive a far greater 
advantage from him. [Cartwright, 
Roy all Slave (1631)] 

Borachio, A : a drunkard. Used by 
Shakespeare [Much Ado (1599)], and a 
little earlier by Stonyhurst in ^neis 
for a wine-bottle, the Span, for which 
is borracho. 

Borak at. To poke : to deceive ; to 
supply with false news. A Colonial 

Border, The : the frontier between 
England and Scotland. 

Border Eagle State, The : Mississippi. 
After the Border Eagle in its coat of 

Border Minstrel, The : Sir Walter Scott, 
many of whose poems relate to the 

Border States : Delaware, Maryland, 
Virginia, Kentucky, Missouri, the 
States bordering on the Free States 
prior to the Amer. Civil War. North 
Carolina, Tennessee and Arkansas are 
also included sometimes. 

Borderer, A : one who lives near the 
boundary between two States, esp. 
England and Scotland. 

Bore^ : northern. From Boreas, the 
god of the north wind. 

Bom in the purple : of royal or imperial 
birth. From (ij the official colour of 
the Roman emperors ; or (2) the 
decorations of the room prepared by 
one of the Roman empresses for her 
accouchement. See Purple. 

Bom with a silver spoon in the mouth : 
see Silver Spoon. 

Borough English : a custom in the South 
of England by which manorial estates 
are inherited by younger sons. From 
Old-French, Tenure en Burgh Engloys 
(tenure in an English borough), the 
custom having been prevalent in 
certain English to^vns, but not in 

Borough, A pocket : a borough carrying 
representation in Parliament owned, 
together with its representation, for 
practical purposes by an individual. 


Borough, A rotten : a Parliamentary 
borough, which had so degenerated 
through loss of population as to be 
practically in the hands of one 

Borrell folk : unlearned people. Middle- 
English, barrel, belonging to the laity, 
coarse cloth. 

Borrowed plumes, In : disguised ; 
assuming a position superior to that 
which one really holds. [Lucian, 
Prendohg, 5 ; Webster and Dekker, 
Westward Hoe, II, ii (1607)] 

Bosch (Boch) butter : margarine. From 
s'Hertogenbosch (or Bois-le-Duc), in 
Holland, where the manufacture was 
carried on. 

Bosh : nonsense. From the Turkish for 
empty, vain. Introduced from J. J. 
Morier's Turkish novel, ^resAa (1834), 
and his The Adventures of Hajji Baba 
of Ispahan (1824). 

Bosom, A bird in one's : see Bird. 

Bosom, In one's : secretly. 

Bosom, To be in a person's : to be in his 
secrets. [Terence, Adelphi, II. 707-9 ; 
Shakespeare, Julius CcBsar, V, i (1601)] 

Bosom, To creep into a person's : to get 
into his confidence. [Rich. Edwards, 
Damon and Pithias, 1. 474 (1567)] 

Bosom sermons : written sermons, as 
opposed to sermons delivered extem- 
pore or from notes. 

Bosom-friend, A : an especially close 
friend. [Greene, Never Too Late (1590)] 

Boss, A : (i) a workingman's term for 
his employer, master ; (2) in Amer. 
politics, the head of a caucus. Dutch, 
baas, master (earlier, uncle). 

Boss rule : control by a boss. Phrase 
invented by Wayne MacVeagh (b. 1 833) . 

Boss the show. To : to occupy a con- 
trolling position in an undertaking. 
The slang word ' to boss ' i.e., ' to 
miss,' is of different origin. 

Boston Tea Party, The : the destruction 
in Boston Harbour (Dec. 16, 1773) of 
a number of chests of tea by disguised 
citizens as a protest against the 
British proposal to tax the Amer. 

Boswell to . . To play : to write a 
biography rich in personal details, and 
in order to fit oneself for the task to 
be in constant close attendance on the 
subject of the biography ; as was 
James Boswell (1740-95), the bio- 
grapher of Dr. Samuel Johnson. 

Boswellian : of biography, extremely 
intimate and detailed. 

59 [Boule 

Botany Bay : a place of exile for con- 
victs. From the name of an inlet on 
the coast of New South Wales, to 
which convicts were orig. sent in 1787. 

Botany Bay dozen, A : twenty lashes of 
the ' cat.' 

Botley Assizes : a reference to the 
tradition that the men of Botley once 
hanged a man because he could not 
drink as deeply as his neighbours. 

Bottle-holder, A : (i) a second, or 
supporter, in a prize-fight ; one who 
holds the bottle out of which to give 
the pugilist refreshment ; {2) a second 
or moral supporter, generally. In 
1851 Punch depicted Lord Palmerston 
as the bottle-holder of oppressed 

Bottle-washer, A : one who makes him- 
self generally useful in menial duties ; 
a general factotum. 

Bottom dollar. One's {Amer.) : one's last 

Bottom drawer. The : an imaginary 
drawer in which is preserved the 
provision made from time to time by a 
prudent mother for the future 
trousseau of her daughter. 

Bottom of one's heart. From the : un- 
reservedly. [John Bale, God's 
Promises, V (1522)] 

Bottom out of . . To knock the : to 
demolish the last resistance of . . 

Bottom, To play : to be overweeningly 
conceited. After Nick Bottom, the 
weaver, a character in Shakespeare, 
Midsummer Night's Dream (1590). 

Bottom, To touch : to fall to the lowest 
point of one's fortunes. A nautical 

Bottomless pit. The : Hell. [James I, 
A Counterblaste to Tobacco (1604)] 

Bough on which one is sitting. To saw off 
the : to deprive a person of support. 
[Cicero, P. Scauro] 

Bougie, A (Fr., bougie, candle) : a 
surgical instrument. From Bugia, a 
town of N. Africa which exported 

Bouguereau quality : extreme refine- 
ment, almost to eflEeminacy. in art and 
literature. After A. W. Bouguereau 
(1825-1905), French painter. 

Boulangist, A : a follower of Gen. 
Boulanger (1837-91), Fr. reactionary 

Boule (Grk., dissyllable) : the Grk. 
Parliament. The name of the Senate, 
or Council, of ancient Athens. 

Boule : see Buhl. 


Bounce : swagger ; impudence. [Steele, 
The Lying Lover (1704)] 

Boundary, To go beyond the : to die. 

Bounder, A : a pretentious vulgar man 
assuming a social position he does not 
possess by nature ; a 'cad.' 

Bountiful, Lady : a kind-hearted gen- 
erous lady. After a character in 
Farquhar, The Beaux' Stratagem (1707). 

Bourbon, A : (i) a person who fails to 
profit by experience ; (2) a member of 
an Amer. political party ; ' a Democrat 
behind the age and unteachable.' 
After the French Royal Family, which 
was said to learn nothing and to forget 

Bourgeois: (i) middle-class; unin- 
inspired ; conventional ; [Horace 
Walpole, Letters, VI (1775)] (2) a 
size of printing type. After a French 
printer or type founder. 

Bourgeoisie, The : the middle classes, 
especially the trading classes. From 
Fr. bourgeois, a citizen or freeman of a 

Bourne whence no traveller returns. The: 
death. [Shakespeare, Hamlet, III, i, 
(1 602) J 

Bourse, A : a stock exchange ; a centre 
for financial business. From the name 
of the family of Van der Burse of 
Bruges, whose coat of arms included 
a purse {bourse). The earliest ex- 
change building was erected at Bruges. 

Boustrapa: a nickname for Napoleon III. 
Coined from Boulogne, Strasbourg and 
Paris, the scenes of his three coups 
d'itat, the last only of which was 

Bouts-rim6s [Fr., rhymed ends) : 
rhymed endings of lines, from which 
verse was constructed. 

Bow and scrape. To : to salute with 
much obeisance. The scraping refers to 
the drawing back of the foot in making 
the obeisance. [Earle, Microcosmogra- 
phy : A Plaine Country Fellow (1628)] 

Bow at a venture, To draw a : to make 
an intentionally random remark or 
effort on the chance that it may go 
home. [I Kings, xxii, 34] 

Bow Bells, To be bom within sound of : 
to be a cockney, i.e., bom within the 
City of London. From the Church of 
St. Mary-le-Bow in Cheapside, in the 
centre of the City. 

Bow Street Runners : police-officers in 
charge of warrants oi arrest, attached 
to Bow Street Police Court, London, 
in the late i8th and 19th cents. 

60 [Boxer 

Bow, To draw the long : to exaggerate. 
From the marvellous stories formerly 
told of the skill of archers with the 
long-bow, and the feats of Robin Hood 
and his foresters. [The Spectator, 
No. 538 (1712)] 

Bow, To have two strings to one's : to 
have two alternative courses open to 
one. [Heywood, Proverbes, 30 (1546)] 

Bow to . . To make one's : to introduce 
oneself to . . [Peter Pindar, Subjects 
for Painters (17 — )] 

Bow up at the castle, To have a famous : 
to be a great braggart. 

Bow-hand, To be too much of the : to 
fail in a design. Metaphor drawn 
from archery. The bow-hand, that 
which held the bow, was the left 

Bow-wow way, A : a haughty, over- 
bearing manner. Term invented by 
the tenth Earl of Pembroke (1734-94), 
in allusion to Dr. Samuel Johnson. 

Bowdlerize, To : to expurgate a book so 
as to render it unobjectionable for 
family use. After Thos. Bowdler 
(1754-1825), Editor of The Family 

Bowels, To have no : to be without 
mercy. From the former belief that 
the bowels were the seat of the 
quality of mercy. [Wm. Penn, Some 
Fruits of Solitude, Pt. I, §534 {1718)] 

Bowie-knife, A : a hunting-knife, useful 
also as a weapon. After Jas. Bowie, 
the Amer. inventor (1796-1836). 

Bowl, The flowing : the bowl (of wine;. 

Bowled out. To be : to be defeated ; to 
be put out of action. A cricket 

Bowler, A : a round hard-felt hat. 
From its resemblance to a bowl. 

Box and Cox arrangement, A : an 
arrangement whereby a room is 
occupied by one person during the day 
and another at night. After the title 
of a comedy by J. Morton (1811-91). 

Box, Christmas, A : see Christmas. 

Box the compass. To : to turn round 
completely. A nautical metaphor. 
Properly, to repeat the names of the 
several points of the compass in their 
correct order. 

Box, To be in the wrong : (of people; to 
be out of place ; in a wrong position. 
[Heywood, Proverbes (1546)] 

Boxer, A : a member of a Chinese secret 
society formed for the expulsion of 
Europeans. Properly, a member ol 
the League of United Patriots, which 


by a play upon words (Chinese) 
became known as a Boxer. [In 
common use in 1900] 

Boy Bishop, A : a boy elected by his 
companions to act as bishop from St. 
Nicholas' Day (Dec. 6) to Innocents 
Day (Dec. 28). St. Nicholas was the 
Patron Saint of scholars. 

Boy in buttons, A : see Buttons. 

Boy with the biid-bolt. The : Cupid. 
The bird-bolt was a short, thick arrow 
without point. 

Boys, Roaring : younger members of the 
aristocracy who used to frequent the 
streets seeking quarrels and annoying 
inotiensive citizens. [Originated in 
the reign of James I] 

Boyar, A : a Russian noble. Orig. a 
member of a non-hereditary class 
attached to the Court. The Order 
was abolished by Peter the Great, but 
still survives in Roumania. 

Boycott, To : to decline, for political 
reasons, to supply goods to, or have 
any intercourse with. After Chas. 
Cunningham Boycott (1832-97), first 
to be ' boycotted ' under the Irish 
Nationalist ' Plan of Campaign ' of 

B.P., The : the British Public ; esp. in 
theatrical and journalistic slang. 

Brabanconne, La : the Belgian national 
hymn, composed on the occasion of the 
Revolution of 1830; named from the 
Province of Brabant. 

Brace of shakes. In a : in a moment. 

Bradbury, A : a British Treasury Note ; 
after Sir John Bradbury, the Secretary 
to the Treasury, a replica of whose 
autograph was printed upon each note. 

Brag, To : to boast ; Ut., to make a loud 
noise like a trumpet. 

Brag, Jack : a braggart. From the hero 
of a novel of that name by Theodore 
Hook (1837). 

Braggadocio, A : a boaster ; also as an 
adjective, boasting. A pseudo-Italian 
word, formed from ' brag.' In 
Spenser, Faerie Queen, Braggadocchio 
is the personification of bragging and 

Bragi's Apples : fruit that refreshes but 
is not diminished ; an immediate cure 
for weariness. After Bragi, in Scand. 
mythology, the inventor of poetry. 

Bragi's Story : a long story, but full of 

Brahminism : a social system in which 
priests are given great authority and 
power. After Brahmin, a member of 

61 [Brass 

the highest or priestly caste among 
the Hindus. 

Braidism : hypnotism as practised by 
Dr. James Braid (1795-1860). 

Braille : a form of type consisting of 
raised dots to enable the blind to read 
by touch. After Louis Braille, 
the French inventor, (1809-52). 

Brain, To bear a : to exert one's mental 
faculties. [Shakespeare, Romeo and 
Juliet, I, iii (1591)] 

Brain, Bitten to the : see Bitten. 

Brain, To have . . on the : to be over- 
devoted to . . , obsessed by . . (some 
interest or hobby). 

Braia, To turn a person's : to render a 
person insane, to arouse an all- 
absorbing enthusiasm in a person. 
[Sir S. Tuke, Adventures of Five Hours, 
III (1663)] 

Brains, To pick a person's : to extract 
from another the fruit of his 

Brain-box ; Brain-pan, A : the cranium. 
[Latter form used in 14th cent.] 

Brake, To take a person in a : to take a 
person at a disadvantage. [Geo. 
Cavendish, Life and Death of Wolsey 


Bramah lock (press, etc.), A : after the 
inventor Joseph Bramah (i 748-1814). 

Brambles grow. To seek figs where only : 
see Seek. 

Bran it is Bran's brother. If not : a 
complimentary remark ; ' as good as 
the best.' Bran was the dog of Fingal, 
the Gaelic hero. 

Bran-(Brand-)new : perfectly new ; 
showing clearly the brand of the 
maker. A.-S., brand, a torch. 

Brand snatched from the burning, A : a 
rescued soul. 

Brandy Nan : Queen Anne. A name 
given to her by Londoners on account 
of her alleged addiction to brandy. 

Branghton, A : a vulgar, malicious, 
jealous person. After a family of that 
name in Fanny Bumey, Evelina 

Brantdme, A : a writer of scandalous 
biographical anecdotes. From the 
title (Seigneur de Brantome) of Pierre 
de Bourdeilles (d. 161 4), a Gascon 
biographer and writer of anecdotes. 

Brass : (i) effrontery ; assurance ; 
[Shakespeare, Love's Labour Lost, V, 
ii, 395 (1588)] (2) money ; formerly 
copper or bronze coin. [Tyndale's 
Matthew, x, 9 ; Shakespeare, Henry V, 
IV, iv (1599)] 


Brass Band, The Pope's : the Irish 
opponents of the Ecclesiastical Titles 
Bill of 1 85 1. 

Brass, As bold as : see Bold. 

Brass farthing. Not to care a : to care 
nothing. [J. S., Andromana, I, i 

Bravado (Span^ : boastful behaviour, 
either as a sign of extreme courage or 
as a pretence to cover timidity. 
[Hakluyt. Vcryages, II (1582)] 

Brave des braves, Le plus ; The bravest 
of the brave : (i) Marshal Ney (1769- 
1815), a title given to him by Napoleon 
during the Russian campaign ; (2) 
the same title was given by Henri IV 
of France to Gen. Louis de Balbe de 
Crillon (1541-1615). 

Bravo, A {Ital., a brave man) : a bully ; 
a hired assassin. [Daniel. Civil Wars, 
III, Ixxii (1597)] 

Bray, Vicar of : see Vicar. 

Brazil : a kind of hard wood ; a dye 
made from the Brazil wood. 

Brazil, As hard as : supposed to be an 
allusion to copper, formerly known as 
brass, or iron pyrites once used tor 
striking lights and therefore considered 
a symbol for hardness. 

Bread and butter. To quarrel with one's : 
to be dissatisfied with one's earnings 
and act in a manner that will jeopardize 
even them. [Swift (Simon Wagstaff), 
Polite Conversation, Dial. I (1738)] 

Bread and butter Uiss, A : A girl of 
about 1 6 or 1 7 ; a High-school girl. 

Bread and cheese : the minimum necessi- 
ties of life. 

Bread and salt, To take : to swear. 
Bread and salt, the two chief 
necessaries of life, were in ancient days 
regarded as giving solemnity to an oath. 

Bread is buttered. To know on which 
side one's : to know where one's 
interests lie. [Heywood, Proverbes 

Bread of affliction : see Affliction. 

Bread of idleness. To eat the : to neglect 
to support oneself. 

Bread out of a person's mouth. To take 
the : to deprive a person of his 

Bread upon the waters. To cast (scatter) : 
to perform a small act in the hope or 
expectation of a disproportionate 
result. [Ecclesiastes, xi i]. When 
the Nile overflows its banks rice-seed 
is thrown into its overflow, and when 
the waters subside the seed is found 
to have taken root. 

62 [Brick 

Break a butterfly on the wheel. To : to 

use an instrument far more powerful 
than necessary for one's purpose. A 
reference to the former method of 
execution by breaking a person's body 
on a wheel. [Pope, Epistle to Dr. 
Arbulhnot, 1. 308 (1735)] 

Break a person's heart. To : to cause a 
person irremovable grief. {Acts, xxi, 
13 ; Shakespeare, The Rape of Lucrece, 
1238-9 (1593-4)] 

Break the ice. To : to open a conversa- 
tion or other undertaking. 

Break the neck of . . To : to overcome the 
first difficulties in an enterprise. 

Breakers ahead : difficulties in front of 
one. A nautical metaphor. 

Breakfast-table, Autocrat of the : see 

Breast of . . To make a clean : to make 
a complete confession of . . 

Breath, To slip one's : to die. [Peter 
Pindar, Odes of Importance : Old 
Simon (1792)] 

Breeches Bible, The : the Eng. or 
Genevan Bible of 1560, in which 
Genesis, iii, 7, reads ' and they sewed 
figge-tree leaves together, and made 
themselves breeches.' 

Breeches, To wear the : said of a wife 
who masterfully controls her husbsmd 
even in details. [Les Quinze Joyes de 
Mariage : La Dixieme Joye (1450) ; 
Heywood, Proverbes (1546)] 

Brentano, A : an extremely foolish 
person. From a Germ, proverb. 

Brentford, The Old Woman of : a witch. 
After a famous witch of Brentford 
around whom several ballads were 

Brentford, Two Kings of: two persons 
who act exactly alike. After characters 
in the Duke of Buckingham, The 
Rehearsal (1672). 

Brevier : a style of type orlg. used for 
printing the Roman Catholic Breviary. 

Briareus of Languages, The : Guiseppe 
Gaspar, Cardinal Mezzofanti (1774- 
1849), who knew 58 languages. In 
Homer Iliad, Briareos was a giant 
with 50 heads and 100 hands. 

Briars, To be in the : to be in a difficulty. 
[Terence in English (1614)] 

Bric-a-brac : portable objects of anti- 
quarian and artistic interest. From 
de brie et de broc, by hook or by crook ; 
possibly referring to the means by 
which bric-a-brac is usually collected. 

Brick, A : a good fellow ; one to be 
depended upon. From the descrip- 


tion of the men of his army by 
Agesilaus, King of Sparta, when 
asked where his walled fortifications 

Brick, To drop a : to make a foolish 

Brick wall, To run one's head against a : 
to follow a course obstinately which 
must obviously lead to failure. 

Bricks without straw. To make : to 
attempt a task which is impossible in 
consequence of the absence of an indis- 
dispensable tool or material. From 
the task of the Israelites as described 
in Exodus, v. 

Brickdusts, The : the ist King's Shrop- 
shire Light Infamtry, formerly 53rd 
Foot. On account of the colour of 
their facings. 

Bride of the Seas, The : Venice. In 
allusion to the Marriage of the 
Adriatic {q.v.). 

Bride-ale, A : a wedding-feast. ' Ale,' 
in the sense of a rural festival. 

Bride-bush, A : a bush hung out at a 
village ale-house in honour of a 

Bride-stake, A : a pole set up in a village 
to dance round at a wedding. 

Bridewell, A : a prison. After the 
palace near St. Bride's Well in London, 
used as a prison by Edward VI. 

Bridewell-man, A : a gaoler. 

Bridge of gold for . . To make u : to 
give a man an opportunity of with- 
drawing from a position without loss 
of dignity. 

Bridge over the sea. To build a : to 
attempt a futile task. From an 
ancient Grk. proverb. 

Bridge of Sighs : a covered bridge 
connecting the Doge's palace and the 
prison at Venice. Across it were 
taken prisoners for trial or judgment. 

Bridget, A : Biddy, A. 

Bridgeting : obtaining money by false 
or other underhand pretences from the 
ignorant, esp. those oi the servant- 
girl class {see Bridget). Irish servant- 
girls in the U.S. have subscribed 
largely, with more or less understand- 
ing, to the funds of Irish political 

Bridgewater Treatises, The : a series of 
eight treatises written in accordance 
with the will of Francis Henry, Earl of 
Bridgewater (1756- 1829), for the 
foundation of which he bequeathed 
£8,000. The writers selected by the 
President of the Royal Society, the 

63 [Bristol 

Archbishop of Canterbury and the 
Bishop of London were Dr. Thomas 
Chalmers, Dr. John Kidd, Dr. Wm. 
Whewell, Sir Charles Bell, Peter Mark 
Roget, Dr. Wm. Buckland, VVm. 
Kirby, Dr. Wm. Prout, and the subject 
of the treatises, ' The Power, Wisdom 
and Goodness of God as manifested in 
the Creation.' 

Bridle, To bite on the : to suffer great 
hardship. The bridle was the instru- 
ment formerly employed in the punish- 
ment of a scold. 

Bridport dagger, A : a hangman's rope. 
Hempen goods were formerly mainly 
manufactured at Bridport. 

Brieve of Furiosity, A : an inquiry into 
a person's sanity. In Scottish law, 
brieve, a writ issued in Chancery. 

Brigand, A : a bandit ; an armed robbc. 
Ital., brigante, an irregular foot-soldier. 
From Briga, a border-town near Nice. 

Bright as the day. As : [Chaucer, Canter- 
bury Tales (14th cent.)] 

Bright's Disease : a disease of the 
kidneys. After Dr. Richard Bright 
(1789-1858), who investigated it. 

Brighton of Scotland, The : St. Andrews. 

Brillat-Savarin, A : an expert in 
gastronomy ; a bon-vivant. After 
A. Brillat-Savarin (1755-1826), author 
of La Physiologie dii Gout. 

Brilliant Madman, The : Charles XII of 

Bring Down the House, To : to induce 
very great applause (in a theatre). 

Bring one's machines after the war is 
over. To : to act in a futile manner ; 
' to lock the stable-door after the steed 
is stolen.' From an ancient Grk. 

Briny, On the : on the ocean. 

Brioche, A : a small fancy loaf ; a 
blunder. From the remark attributed 
to the daughter of Louis XVI, when 
she learnt that the people were starving 
for lack of bread : ' Si le peuple n'a 
pas de pain, qu'il mange des brioches.' 
' If the people have no bread, let them 
eat brioches.' 

Brisle dice : false dice. From the 
bristles inserted in them to influence 
their fall. 

Bristol, A : a visiting-card ; formerly 
made of Bristol board {q.v.). 

Bristol board, A : drawing-paper 
mounted on a thin board ; formerly 
made at Bristol. 

Bristol Boy, The : Thomas Chatterton of 
Bristol (1752-70), poet. 



Bristol fashion. In : in good order. 
Referring to the days when Bristol wais 
almost the principal Eng. port. 

Biistol man's gift, A : a gift of something 
that has no value to the giver. 

Bristol Milk : sherry, a wine formerly 
imported via Bristol. 

Bristol Stones (Diamonds) : brilliant 
stones, found near Bristol and used 
for cheap jewellery. 

British Aristides, The : Andrew Marvell 
(1621-78). After Aristides the Just 
(c. 530-468 B.C.), the Athenian states- 
man and general. 

British Common, The : the sea. 

British Cuvier, The : Sir Richard Owen 
(1804-92). After G. L. C. Cuvier 
(i 769-1832), a distinguished French 

British Jeremiah, The : Gildas (516-570), 
British historian. So-called by Gibbon. 

British lion's tail. To twist : see Lion's tail. 

British Solomon, The : James I, king of 
Great Britain. 

Britisher, A : a citizen of the United 
Kingdom. Introduced and orig. used 
in the U.S. as a term of derision or 

Brittle as glass. As : very fragile, easily 
broken. [Mirror for Magistrates, 179 


Broad Arrow, A : a sign of British 
Government ownership. After the 
broad arrow-head marked on British 
Government stores, convicts, etc. 
Orig. the sign of Henry, Earl of 
Romney (i 641 -1704), Master-General 
of the Ordnance. 

Broad as long. As : of two means, both 
leading to the same end. 

Broad Bottom(ed) Ministry, The : the 
ministry formed by Henry Pelham in 
1744. So-called because it included 
representatives of^ all Parties. 

Broad Church, The : the Liberal school 
in the Church of England, which holds 
that the Church should be tolerant, and 
embrace wide diflferences of opinion. 
[First used at Oxford about 1850] 

Broad Piece, A : a sovereign (20s.) 
Used after 1663 to distinguish the coin 
from the guinea then introduced, 
which was a more compact coin. 

Broadbrim, A : a quaker. From the 
style of hat formerly worn by members 
of the Society of Friends. 

Brobdi(n)gnag(ian) : huge ; immense. 
After the monstrous race of giants 
inhabiting Brobdingnag, in Swift, 
Gulliver's Travels (1726). 


Brooard, A : a maxim. After Brocard, 
Bp. of Worms (nth cent.), who mcide 
a collection of ecclesiastical canons. 

Broken beer : the unconsumed residue 
of beer left in the glass. 

Broken English (etc.). To speak : to 
speak English or other language un- 
grammatically cind with a foreign 
accent. [Lyly, Eupkues and his 
England (1580)] 

Broken meat : remnants of food left after 
a meal. [Chapman, May Day (161 1)] 

Broken posts. To erect : see Erect. 

Broken reed, A : see Reed. 

Broker, Thie Honest : see Honest. 

Brooks of Sheffield : an assumed name 
used when it is not desired to mention 
the real one. After an imaginary 
character in Dickens, David Copper- 
field (1849). 

Broom, Dame (Mrs.) Partington's : see 

Broom sweeps clean, A new : a person 
newly appointed to an office starts his 
career with exceptional assiduity which 
does not endure. [Heywood, 
Proverbes (1546)] 

Broth of a boy, A : an Irish colloquialism 
for a high-spirited, good-natured 
young fellow. Irish, brotha, passionate. 

Brother Bung : a publican. In allusion 
to the bung of a beer-barrel. 

Brother Chip : one of the same trade. 
Properly, a fellow-carpenter. 

Brother Jonathan : the popular name 
for a citizen of the U.S. Said to have 
arisen from Washington calling 
Jonathan Trumbull, Governor of 
Connecticut, ' Brother.' 

Brother of the Angle, A : a member of 
the commonwealth of anglers. [Isaac 
Walton, The Compleat Angler, Pt. I, 
ch. I (1653)] 

Brother of the Blade, A : a soldier ; 
anyone of the same calling as the 

Brother of the Brush, A : a fellow-artist. 

Brother of the Buskin, A : an actor. 
From the buskins worn by tragedy- 
actors in ancient times. 

Brother of the Coif, A : a sergeant-at- 
law. From the coif or close-fitting 
cap worn by him. 

Brother of the Quill, A : a member of 
the commonwealth of letters. [The 
Spectator, No. 552 (1712)] 

Brother of the Strhig, A : a fiddler. 

Brother of the Sword, A : a soldier. 
[Dryden, Epistle to Mr. Lee,'VL. 7 and 8 



Brother of the Whip, A : a coachman. 

[I'he Spectator, No. 498 (17 12)] 

Brougham, A : a closed, four-wheeled 
carriage. After Hy., Lord Brougham 
(1778-1868), by whom it was intro- 

Broughtonian, A : a pugilist. After John 
Broughton (1705-89), English pugilist. 

Brown Bess : the flint-lock musket, 
formerly in use in the British Army. 
From the brown walnut stock. 

Brown Bess, Married to : having joined 
the army. 

Brown BUI, A : a brown halberd, 
formerly used by foot-soldiers. [Lyly, 
Sapho and Phao, II, iii (1591)] 

Brown George, A : (i) a hard, coarse 
biscuit or bread ; (2) a brown earthen- 
ware vessel. 

Brown, Jones and Robinson : the British 
public in a mass. These surnames are 
the most frequently met with in 
England. Brown, Jones and Robinson 
is the title of Richard Doyle's series of 
humorous Punch drawings depicting 
the adventures of three typical English- 
men on the Rhine and in Italy ; after- 
wards republished in book-form. 

Brown study, A : a reverie. Connected 
with ' brown ' in the sense of ' gloomy,' 
or ' brow,' brain. \The Marriage of 
Wit and Science (1569-70)] 

Browns, To astonish the : to say some- 
thing that shocks the unsophisticated. 

Brown-paper warrants : warrants that 
can be cancelled at the will of him who 
drew them. A nautical phrase. 

Brownists, The : the original Congre- 
gationalists, followers of Rob. Browne 
(1550-1630), who seceded from the 
Church of England. 

Bruin : a popular name for the bear. 
From the fable of Reynard the Fox. 
Dutch, broun. 

Bruised reed, A : see Reed. 

Bruiser, A : a prize-fighter. Lit., one 
who bruises. [Horace Walpole, Letters 
to Horace Mann, II, 57 (1744)] 

Brummagem : cheap and showy ; 
counterfeit ; shoddy. A corruption of 
Birmingham, where cheap and spurious 
jewellery, etc., is made. 

Brummagem Protestants : (i) counter- 
feit groats made at Birmingham ; (2) 
supporters of the Exclusion Bill of 
1680. From Birmingham in its 
capacity of a Radical stronghold. 

Brummell, Beau : see Beau. 

Brunch : breakfast and lunch combined. 
A portmanteau word. 


Brunswick, A : a lady's out-of-door 
costume. After Brunswick, Germany, 
whence they were introduced c. 1750. 

Brunt, To bear the : to support the stress 
of a contest or undertaking. Ice- 
landic, bruni, burning heat. [The 
Louer Wounded of Cupide, 11. 37-40 


Brutum fulmen {Lat., senseless thunder- 
bolt) : an empty threat. [Pliny, 
Historia Naturalis] 

Brutus, A : a kind of wig worn in the 
early 19th cent. 

Bubble and Squeak : a dish of meat and 
cabbage cooked together. From the 
sounds made by the food in the process 
of cooking. 

Bubble Company (Scheme), A : an un- 
sound Company, of a fraudulent or 
semi-fraudulent character, as un- 
substantial as a bubble. Perhaps 
connected with Middle English, to 
' bubble,' to cheat. 

Buccaneer, A : a pirate, a freebooter. 
Orig. the pirates of the West Indies, 
who preyed upon the Spanish trade in 
the 17th cent. From Boncan (Carib- 
bean), a place where meat was dried. 
Many ot the original buccaneers 
engaged in the occupation of drying 

Bucentaur, The : a large ship ; a gaily 
decorated barge. After the ' Bucen- 
taur,' the state barge of Venice. The 
name was probably derived from a 
figure-head, half-man, half-ox. 

Bucephalus, A : a spirited horse. After the 
favourite steed of Alexander the Great. 

Buck, A : a dandy. From buckram, 
which was used in stiffening the dress 
of i8th-cent. men-of -fashion, or from 
to ' buck,' i.e, to wash clothes in lye, 
bucks' clothes being very carefully 
worked and prepared for wear. 

Buck, To pass the : a phrase used in the 
game of poker, meaning to hand on 
a difficult decision to the next player. 

Buck up. To : to make an effort. Orig. 
a Westminster School term. 

Buck's horn. To blow the : to profit one- 
self nothing. [Chaucer, Miller's Tale 


Buck-eye, A : an inhabitant of the 
State of Ohio. 

Buck-eye State, The : Ohio. On account 
of the number of its buck-eye or horse- 
chestnut trees. 

Buck-horse, A : a blow on the face. 
After the name of a pugilist, Buck 
(fl. 1732-46). 



Buck-tail, A : orig. a member of the 
Tammany Society of New York ; later 
a member of the Democratic-Republi- 
can Party. 

Back-tooth, A : a large projecting tooth, 
supposed to be evidence of the male sex. 

Backet, To kick the : see Kick. 

Backet Shop, A : the office or business of 
a dealer in stocks and shares who is 
not a member of an authorized Stock 
Exchange. From a gambling-office in 
Chicago to which clients were brought 
in a lift or ' bucket.' 

Backle and bare thong. To come to : to 
have exhausted one's means. [Hey- 
wood, Proverbes (1546)] 

Backle of one's belt behind one. To tarn 
the: to prepare to fight to a finish. 
[Breton, Posie with a Packet of Mad 
Letters (1637)] 

Buckle, To talk : to talk about marriage. 

Buckle to. To : to enter seriously and 
resolutely into (a work). From the 
process of buckling on a knight's 
armour for the tournament or for 
battle. [Bacon, Essayes : Of Deluges 

Buckle-beggar, A {Scot.) : a person who 
performs irregular marriage cere- 

Bucklers, To give (yield) the : to admit 
defeat. [Shakespeare, Much Ado 
About Nothing, V, ii (1599) ; Greene, 
Second Part of Coney Catching (1592)] 

Bucklers, To tt^e up the : to issue a 
challenge to combat. [Wm. Rowley, 
A Woman Never Vexed, IV, i (1632)] 

Buckra : superior ; white. The negro's 
term for a white man. Original mean- 
ing in Calabar language, a demon ; 
whence, powerful, superior. 

Buckram Bag, A : an attorney of a low 
class. On account of the bags carried 
by them. 

Buc^am, Man in : see Man in Buckram. 

Bud, To nip in the : see Nip. 

Buddha to play with water. As dangerous 
as for a clay : from a Japanese proverb. 
Japanese children often amuse them- 
selves by making little images of 
Buddha in mud which melt into 
shapelessness if placed in water. 

Budget, The : the annu£il statement, 
together with estimates, of a Finance 
Minister. Orig. a bag, a despatch- 
box. In the Parliamentary sense 
probably derived from the Minister's 
despatch-box. First used about 1760, 

Butf or sty. To say : to have a voice in a 

66 [Bull-dog 

Buff, To stand : to stand firm. A nauti- 
cal term. [Butler, Hudibras' Epitaph 

BuffiB, The : the East Kent Regt. (3rd 
Foot). On account of the former 
colour of their facings. 

Buffs, The Ross-shire : the 2nd Battn. 
Seaforth Highlanders (78th Foot) . On 
account of the colour of their facings. 

Buffer, An old : a good-natured, not over 
intelligent old gentleman. Middle- 
English, buffen, to stammer. 

Buffer-State, A : a small State, whose 
independence is preserved in order that 
it may separate two larger rival states. 
From the contrivance inserted between 
them and thus neutralizing the shock 
when two powerful forces come into 

Buffle-head, A : a blockhead. From 
' buftle,' a stupid person. \Lady 
Alimony, I, ii (1659)] 

Bugaboo, A : a bogey. 

Bug-bear, A : an object of needless 
terror. From a threat of something 
terrible (apparently a bear) used by 
nurses to frighten their charges. 
Welsh, bwg, a goblin. 

Buhl : an inlay of metal, etc., in fine 
wood, etc., in cabinet-making. After 
Andr6 BouUe (1642-1732). Fr. cabinet- 

Build a bridge over the sea. To : set 

Bulbul, A {Persian) : a singer ; a 

Bull, A : an absurd verbal blunder, most 
commonly perpetrated by Irishmen : 
hence ' An Irish Bull.' Said to have 
been derived from Obadiah Bull, an 
Irish lawyer in London in the time of 
Henry VII. 

Bull: (Stock Exchange) see Bear and 

Bull by the horns. To take the : see Take. 

Bull in a china shop : a person who 
causes damage or harm by his clumsi- 

Bull of Phalaris, A : an instrument of 
torture in the form of a hollow bull of 
brass in which the victims were burnt 
to death. Introduced by Phalaris, 
tyrant of Acragas in Sicily (c. 570- 
554 B.C.) 

Bull to roar. To teach a : see Teach. 

Bull-dog, A : an attendant on a proctor. 
A University term. 

Bull-dog courage : unsubduable courage, 
like that of a bull-dog, which breed 
was formerly employed in bull-baiting. 


Bull-doze, To : to threaten or bully. 
First used with reference to negro 
voters after the close of the Civil War. 
Lit., to flog with a strip of hide, used by 
drovers to control refractory animals. 

Bull's-eye : the centre of a military 

Bull's-eye, To hit the : see Hit. 

Bulletin, To lie like a : see Lie. 

Bulley-beef : tinned beef. Probably 
from (Fr.) bouilli, boiled. 

Bullion State, The : Missouri. After its 
representative in Congress, Thos. Hart 
Benton, Old Bullion {q.v.). 

Bullyrag, To : to threaten and abuse. 
Possibly derived from ' bully ' or ' bull ' 
and (red) ' rag.' 

Bulwark of the North, The : Stirling, 
Scotland ; so-called by Sir Walter 
Scott in The Lady of the Lake (1810). 

Bum-bailiff, A : a sheriff's officer ; one 
who comes up from behind to serve a 

Bum-boat, A : a clumsy -looking boat 
employed in taking provisions to a ship. 
Orig. a scavenger's boat on the Thames. 
Name derived either from the shape, or 
from Dutch bon, a box for holding fish. 

Bumble, A : a parish beadle or other 
officer ; any pompous, minor of&cial. 
After Mr. Bumble, the beadle, in 
Dickens, Oliver Twist (1838). 

Bumbledom : (i) petty, fussy officialism ; 
(2) local officials as a class. 

Bummer, A : (Germ. Bummler), a loafer. 
American slang. 

Bumper, A : a glass of wine (etc.) filled 
to the brim ; anything filled to over- 

Bumpkin, A country : {Dutch boomken), 
a fool. An awkward, uncouth rustic. 
[Peter Pindar, Complimentary Epistle 
to James Bruce (1790)] 

Bumptious : aggressively conceited. 
Apparently a corruption of ' presump- 
tuous.' [Mme. D'Arblay, Diary and 
Letters, VI, 324 (1803)] 

Bunch-clot, A : a farmer. N.-E. Eng. 
dialect, ' bunch,* to strike. 

Buncombe : see Bunkum. 

Bunco-steerer, A : a swindler ; a sharp. 
An Americanism. After Bunco (Ital. 
Banco), an American swindling card- 

Bundesrath : the German Imperial 

Bung, A : (i) a pickpocket ; a sharper ; 
thieve's slang, possibly from Anglo- 
Saxon, pung, a purse; (2) a publican ; 
from the bung of a beer-barrel. 

67 [Burning 

Bung, Brother : see Brother. 

Bungalow, A : a one-storied house. 
Persian, iajig^a/aA, a Bengalese (house). 

Bungay with you I Go to : orig. ' Go to 
Bungay and get your breeches 
mended 1 ' Bungay was formerly 
famous for its manufacture of leather- 

Bunk, To : to decamp ; to run away. 

Bunkum ; Buncombe : humbug ; 
speech-making intended merely to 
deceive. From Buncombe County, 
N. Carolina, whose representative in 
the 1 6th Congress, Felix Walker, was 
addicted to such speech-making. 

Bunny : pet name for a rabbit. From 
6mm, a tail. 

Burbolt, As much brain as a : as much 
sense as a bird-bolt or short, thick 
arrow, formerly used for shooting 
rooks. [Udall, Ralph Roister Doister, 
III, ii, 11. loo-i (1550)] 

Burchardize, To : to speak with 
authority. After Burchard (d. 1026), 
Bp. of Worms, compiler of a collection 
of canons. 

Burgomaster : the Mayor of a German, 
Dutch, or Flemish town. 

Buridan's Ass : the donkey, invented by 
the Fr. Schoolman, Jean Buridan 
(1297-1358). The ass, pressed by both 
hunger and thirst yet utterly unable to 
decide between a measure of oats and 
a bucket of water, both of which were 
within his reach, died of starvation and 

Burke, To : to dispose of secretly ; later, 
to prevent another from securing ; to 
prevent ; suppress. After Wm. Burke 
(1792-1829), body-snatcher. 

Burlaw : lynch-law (q.v.) ; a local law 
in Scotland. Byr, borough. 

Burleigh nod, A Lord : a nod supposed to 
convey deep meaning, to have much 
wisdom behind it. From the nod of 
Lord Burleigh in Mr.Puff's The Spanish 
Armada, a part of Sheridan's The 
Critic (1779). 

Bum one's boats behind one. To : 
see Boats. 

Bum one's fingers. To : to get into 
trouble or suffer loss. 

Bum the candle at both ends. To : see 

Bum daylight. To : to waste time. 
[Appiiis and Virginia, 1. 230 (1563)]. 

Burning question, A : a matter of 
intense and Avidespread interest and 
discussion. First used in English by 
Edward Miall, M.P. and Noncon- 


formist minister (1809-81) ; prev. used 
in German {brennende Fragen) by 
Hagenbach in Grundlinien der Liturgie 
und Homiletik (1803). A ' red-hot ' 
question is used with the same 

Burning shame, A : a conspicuous dis- 
grace. [Shakespeare. King Lear, IV, 
iii, 48 (1605-6)] 

Burse, The (Fr., bourse, purse): one of 
the official insignia of the Lord 
Chancellor. A receptacle used in 
connection with the Eucharist. 

Bury the hatchet. To : see Hatchet. 

Bus, A : a contracted form of omnibus, 
a public vehicle for the conveyance of 
passengers on fixed routes. (Lat., 
omnibiis, for everybody.) 

Busby, A : a uniform hat worn by certain 
Eng. regiments ; formerly a species of 
wig. Either from the name of an 
Eng. village or an Eng. family name. 

Busby's School : Westminster School. 
After Richard Busby (1606-95), a 
famous headmaster. 

Bush, To beat about the : see Beat. 

Bush- Whacker, A : (i) an irregular 
soldier in the Amer. Civil War ; lit., 
a backwoodsman, one who beats down 
bushes in order to make his way; 
(2) (political) a free-lance. 

Bushel, To hide one's light under a : to 
live modestly, not to obtrude one's 
excellences. [Matthew, v, 15 ; Totus 
Mundus in maligno positus, 11. 49-50 

Bushel, To measure com by one's own : 

to judge others by one's own standard. 

[Joseph Henshaw, Horae Succesivae 

279 (1631)] 
Bushido : the Japanese code of chivalry. 

Lit., the way of a military knight. 
Buskin : tragedy. After the half-boot 

worn by Greek and Roman actors in 

Busman's (Busdriver's) Holiday, A : a 

holiday devoted to following one's 

ordinary occupation. From the 

apocryphal practice of a busman when 

on holiday riding by the side of one of 

his colleagues on duty. 
Busy (fussy) as a hen that has one chick, 

A!s : fussy and over- anxious about 

trifles. [Clarke, Paroemiologia (1639)] 
Busybody, A : one who concerns himself 

unnecessarily with other people's 

business. [Tindal, I Peter, iv, 15 

But me no bnts I : speak clearly and to 

the point, without any qualifications. 

68 [Buttonhole 

[Fielding, Rape upon Rape, II, ii 

Butcher of Culloden, The : the Duke of 
Cumberland (1721-65). On account 
of his cruelties perpetrated after the 
defeat of the rebels at Culloden. 

Butler's box, A : a box into which card- 
players put a portion of their winnings 
(?) for the butler. 

Butler's grace, A : a drink. 

Butter would not melt in one's mouth. To 
look as if : to have the appearance of 
perfect innocence and harmlessness. 
[Hey wood, Proverbes (1546) ; J. 
Clarke, Paroemiologia Anglo-Latina 

Bntter-boz, A ; Butter-bag, A : a 
Dutchman (contemptuously) . Prob- 
ably in reference to the production of 
butter in Holland. [Lyly, Sapho and 
Phao. Ill, ii (1591)] 

Butter-fingers, A : one who misses a 
catch at cricket, or is otherwise clumsy 
with the fingers ; a duffer. [Markham, 
The English Housewife, II, ii, 51 

Buttered ale : a drink composed of beer, 
butter, etc. 

Butterfly on the wheel. To break a : to 
employ an unnecessarily great effort 
to overcome a slight obstacle. 

Butterfly Journal, A : a financial news- 
paper, not intended for bona fide sale 
but given away as an advertisement 
to induce the purchase of shares, etc. 

Butterfly Cs) kiss, A : a kiss with the 

Butternuts : (i) soldiers of the Con- 
federate States ; on account of the 
colour of their uniforms, i.e., a 
brownish-grey ; (2) sympathizers 
with the Confederate cause, in the 
Northern States. 

Button for . . Not to care a (brass) : to 
hold as of next to no account. On 
account of the small value of a button. 
[Taylor, Workes (1630)] 

Buttons, A (Boy in) : a page ; the buttons 
on whose uniform are numerous and 

Buttons, Not to have all one's : to be 

Buttons, To have a soul above : to be 
superior to one's employment. [Geo. 
Colman, Sylvester Daggerwood (1795)] 

Buttonhole a person. To : to detain a 
person in conversation, as if by 
inserting your finger in his button- 
hole ; to bore a person with one's 


Button-hole, To seize a person by the : 

to detain a person in conversation. 

[Goldsmith, The Good-natured Man, 

II. i (1768)] 
Buy cheap and sell dear. To : [Petronius, 

Satyricon, cap. 75] 
Buzfuz, A Sergeant : a bullying lawyer. 

After a character in Dickens, Pickwick 

Papers (1836). 
Buzzards : inhabitants of Georgia, U.S.A. 

Owing to the number of wild turkeys 

in that state. 
Buzzard, As blind as a : a buzzard was 

the name of a flying beetle ; as in the 

evening it often struck people in its 

flight it was popularly supposed to be 

Buzzard, Between hawk and : see Hawk. 
Byegones be byegones. To let : to ignore 

past wrongs or causes of offence and 

to start relations again with a clean 

Byron, The Polish : Adam Mickiewicz 

Byron, The Russian : Alexander 

Sergei vitch Puschkin (1799- 183 7). 
Bywoners : landless Boers in the Trans- 
vaal and Orange Free State. 
Byzant : see Bezant, 
Byzantism : a system of absolute 

monarchical government. From 

Byzantium, the name of the Eastern 


Caaba ; Kaaba : the building at Mecca 
in which the sacred stone, the centre 
of Mohammedan pilgrimage, is kept. 

Cabal, A : a faction ; an intrigue ; a 
party of intriguers. Probably from 
Cabbala {q.v.). By a coincidence the 
initial letters of the names of the five 
members of the governing committee 
of the Privy Council in 1670, Clifford, 
Arlington, Buckingham, Ashley, 
Lauderdale, form the word Cabal. 

Cabal, To : to intrigue, to plot. 

Cabal, The American (Conway's) : an 
intrigue on the part of certain represen- 
tatives of the Northern States against 
Geo. Washington and in the interests 
of Charles Lee. Its leader was Thos. 
Conway (1733-1805). 

Cabbage, To : to crib ; to steal. Orig. 
of a tailor (slang designation 
' cabbage ') who retains a portion of 
the cloth entrusted to him. Old Fr., 
cabasser, to steal. 

Cabbage Garden Patriot, A : a coward. 
Smith O'Brien was discovered hiding 

69 [Cadmean 

among cabbages after his abortive 

Cabbala : the esoteric learning of the 
Jews ; the mystical literature of 

Cabinet, A : the committee of ministers 
which forms the government of a 
country ; a meeting of such a com- 
mittee. From ' cabinet,' the private 
room of the sovereign in which the 
committee orig. met. 

Cabinet Noir, A (Fr., black cabinet) : an 
office in France created by Louis XIV 
for the supervision of the correspon- 
dence of suspected persons ; abolished 
in 1886. 

Ca' canny : (of working men) intentional 
reduction of speed in working and of 
output ; from ' call,' to drive, and 
' canny,' cautiously, deliberately. 

Cachet, Lettres de : see Lettre de Cachet. 

Cacique, A : a native chief of the Central 
or S. Amer. Indians. 

Cackler, A : a chatterer ; a tell-tale ; 
resembling a cackling hen. 

Cacoethes scribendi {Lat., itch for 
writing) : an irrepressible desire to 
write. [Juvenal, Satires, VII, 52 ; 
Burton, Anatomy of Melancholy (1621;] 

Cacus, As great a thief as : Cacus was a 
mythological robber, the son of Vulcan 
and Medusa. 

Cad, A : (i) a vulgar, dishonourable 
fellow ; (2) less often, an unskilled 
labourer ; (3) an omnibus conductor ; 
(4) a passenger carried for the profit 
of the driver and not of the owner of 
the coach. An abbreviation either of 
' caddie ' {q.v.), in which connection 
the term came into use at Oxford 
University, or of ' cadger.' 

Caddie, A : a boy in attendance on a 
golf-player ; a man who waits about 
for odd jobs. French, cadet, junior, 
younger. See Cad. 

Cadets, The : a Russian political party, 
the Constitutional Democrats. From 
the initial letters C( = K)D. 

Cadi, A (Arab.) : an inferior judge among 
the Moslems. 

Cadmean Letters : the letters of the 
Grk. alphabet. From a Grk. legend 
that they were introduced by Cadmus, 
son of Agenor, king of Phoenicia, the 
legendary founder of Thebes. 

Cadmean Victory, A : a victory purchased 
at great cost. From the legend of the 
armed men who sprang from the 
dragon's teeth sown by Cadmus, and 
fought with one another until only five 


survived. The term was first used by 
Herodotus in his description of the 
Battle of Alalia (535 B.C.). [Hist., I, 

Cadmus Crop, A : in allusion to the legend 
of Cadmus. See Cadmean Victory. 
[Jasper Fisher, Fuitnus Troes, Prologue 

Cadogan, A : a knot of ribbon worn at 
the back of the hair. After the ist 
Earl Cadogan {1675-1726). 

Csesar, To appeal unto : to appeal to the 
highest authority. [Acts, xxv. 11] 

CsBsar, To render unto : in allusion to 
Matthew, xxii, 21, ' Render to Caesar 
the things that are Caesar's, and to God 
the things that are God's.' Do not 
allow your religious duties to interfere 
with your duties as a citizen ! [Sir 
Thos. Overbury, Characters : A 
Jesuite (1616)] 

Caesar's Wife, A : one on whom even the 
breath of suspicion must not be allowed 
to alight. ' Because I would have the 
chastity of my wife clear even from 
suspicion,' was the reply of Julius 
Caesar when asked why he had 
divorced his wife Pompeia through 
no fault of hers, but because Publius 
Clodius had fallen in love with her. 

Caesars, The City of the : a mythical city 
in South America, said to have been 
founded by a member of Cabot's party 
named Caesar, who deserted or dis- 
appeared, in 1530. 

C83sarian operation, A : a surgical 
operation for the purpose of assisting 
child-birth. Julius Caesar is said to 
have been born by this means. 

Caesarism : autocratic rule. After the 
Caesars, Roman emperors. 

Caf6 in Europe, The most aristocratic : 
Spa, Belgium. In allusion to the 
resort to it of the royalty and nobility 
of Europe. 

Caftan, A {Turkish) : a long outer 
garment worn in Asiatic countries. 

Cain, The brand of : the mark of out- 
lawry. [Genesis, iv, 15] 

Cain, The curse of : condemnation to 
perpetual wandering. The punish- 
ment of Cain for the murder of 

Cain-coloured beard (hair) : red beard 
(hair). From the traditional colour of 
Cain's hair. 

Ca ira {Fr., it will succeed) : a French 
Revolutionary song, composed in 1791. 
The refrain, Qa ira, (a ira, was taken 
from a mot of Benjamin Franklin, the 

70 [California 

Amer. revolutionist, uttered during the 
dark period of the Amer. Revolution. 

Cake and have it too. To eat the : to have 
the advantage of both sides of a 
bargain. [Plautus, Trinummus, II, 
IV ; J no. Hey wood, Proverbes (1546)] 

Cake is dough. My : I have abandoned 
hope. A cake leaving the oven as 
dough is hopelessly spoilt. [Shakes- 
peare, The Taming of the Shrew, V, i 

Cakes, The Land of : see Land. 

Cake, To take the : to gain the prize ; 
to be the best of several. In allusion 
to a cake as a prize in the cake- walking 
competition among the negroes of the 
U.S.A. A cake was awarded as a 
prize even in antiquity. [Aristophanes, 

Cakes and ale : the good things of the 
world ; luxuries. [Shakespeare, 
Twelfth Night, II, iii (1601)] 

Cake-walk, A : a dance ; orig. a negro 
dance. See Cake, To take the. 

Calabar bean, A : a poisonous plant ; 
the ' ordeal bean ' of the natives of 
Old Calabar. 

Calais Cormorant, A : a man who had 
served in the French wars. [Histrio- 
mastix. III, i, 11. loo-i (1610^] 

Calais Sands : after duelling had become 
illegal in England, it wais the custom 
to cross the Channel to Calais to settle 
disputes there. 

Caledonia : a poetical name for 
Scotland. Celtic. 

Calendar, A Newgate : a record of crime. 
The Newgate Calendar, first published 
in 1700, is a record of the lives,crimes, 
confessions, etc., of criminals. 

Calends, The Greek : See Greek Kalends. 

Calepin, A : a dictionary. After 
Ambrosio Calepino (1435-1511), Ital. 

Calf, The Oolden : the sjnnbol o£ wealth 
as the object of worship. [Exodus, 

CalTs skin, A : a fool. From the coats 
of calf -skin worn by professional fools. 

Calf-love : the first love of young lads, 
usually for their seniors. 

Caliban, A : a degraded, semi-brutal 
being. After a character in Shakes- 
peare, Tempest (1600) 

Calico : a cotton cloth. Orig. Calicut 
cloth, after Calicut, in India. 

California widow, A : a woman living 
apart from her husband. At the time 
of the California gold-fever many men 
left their homes to go in search of 


fortunes, leaving their wives behind 

Caliph, A {Arab., a successor) : (i) the 
spiritual head of all Moslems until 
1517, when the dignity was transferred 
to the Turkish sultans ; (2) a descen- 
dant of Mahomet. 

Call ; Call-bird, A : a decoy bird. 
[Shakespeare, King John, III, iv, 174 


Call Boy, A : a boy employed to warn 
actors that their appearance on the 
stage is about to come due. 

Call in question. To : to challenge the 
truth of. [Sir Philip Sidney (1554-86), 
Wooing-Stuff, 11. 21-2] 

Call out. To : to challenge to a 

Call over the coals. To : to haul over the 
coals [q.v.). 

Called to one's last account : dead. 

Caller Herrin' : fresh, newly-caught 
herrings. Scot. and Northern 


Callipolis, A : a sweetheart. After a 
character in Peele, The Battle of 
Alcazar (1594). 

Callot ; Calot ; Callet : a woman of bad 
character. After Kit Callot, said to 
have been the first Englishwoman to 
adopt the life of a gypsy. 

Calumet of Peace, The : the pipe of peace. 
Among Amer. Indians the symbol of 
peace. Fr., calumet, the French- 
Canadian term for the plant out of 
which Indian pipes are made. 

Calvary, A : a place of martyrdom. 
After the name of the place of the 
Crucifixion of Christ. 

Calvert's Entire : the 14th Regt. of Foot, 
now the Prince of Wales' Own. After 
the name of their colonel, Sir Harry 
Calvert (1806-26) and in allusion to the 
three entire battalions that were kept 
up for his benefit. 

Camacho's wedding : great, but useless, 
expenditure. From the story of the 
frustrated wedding of Camacho in 
Cervantes, Don Quixote. 

Camarilla, A : a body of intriguers or 
plotters, esp. the secret advisers of a 
sovereign. Span., camara, a chamber. 
See Cabinet. 

Cambays : a cotton-cloth made in India. 
After Cambay, a port of India. 

Cambria : Wales. 

Cambrian Shakespeare, The : Edward 
Williams (1746- 1826). 

Cambric: a linen fabric. From Cam brai, 

71 [Canap6 

Cambridgeshire nightingales : frogs. On 
account of the number to be found in 
that county. 

Cambyses' vein. In King : pompously. 
After a character in Thos. Preston, 
Cambyses (1569). [Shakespeare, 
I Henry IV, ii, 4 (1596)] 

Camel Driver of Mecca, The : Mohammed. 

Camellia : a shrub. From G. J. 
Camellus, a Jesuit, who discovered it 
in the Philippines. 

Camera obscura, A (Lat.) : a darkened 
room ; an optical instrument. 

Cameronians, The : a Scottish regiment, 
formed orig. in 1689, to serve against 
the Jacobites, from some of the 
extreme Covenanting followers of 
Richard Cameron (1648-80). 

Camisards : French Protestants who 
took up arms in defence of their 
liberties (1702-5). Lat. camisa, a 
shirt ; after the white blouses of the 
peasants who formed the majority of 
the rebels. Camisard is also a military 
term, meaning a night attack. 

Cam(m)ock, As crooked as a : a camock 
is a crooked beam used in ship- 
building. Welsh, kani, crooked. 

Camorra : a Neapolitan secret revolution- 
ary Society, afterwards merged in the 
followers of Garibaldi ; later used for 
any secret revolutionary society. 

Camouflage : disguise. The term was 
introduced during the European War 
of 191 4-1 8, orig. to denote a disguise 
employed for military purposes. 
Probably from camouflet, smoke inten- 
tionally blown into another's face, 
though many other derivations have 
been suggested. 

Campeachy : log-wood. After Cam- 
peachy, in Central America, whence 
it was imported. 

Campo Santo {Ital., holy field) : a 
cemetery, esp. in Italy. 

Campus Martins {Lat., field of Mars) : a 
place of military action. From Mars, 
the Roman god of war. 

Canaan, A : a land of promise. After 
the land promised to the Israelites by 

Canaille {Fr., pack of dogs) : the rabble ; 
the lowest class in the population. 

Canal Boy, The : James Abram Garfield 
(1831-81), President of the U.S., who 
served for a portion of his youth as a 
hand on a canal-boat. 

Canap6, A {Fr., sofa) : a slice of bread 
fried in butter and used as a support 
for caviare, anchovies, etc. 


Canard, A (Fr., duck) : a silly story that 
serves as a hoax. The word in this 
sense has been derived from the phrase 
vendre un canard d moitii, to half-sell a 
duck, i.e., not to sell it at all. Another 
derivation is from a story told by the 
Dutch painter, Cornelissen, that he fed 
a flock of twenty ducks (Fr., canard) 
on one of their number which he 
killed every day. Ultimately the flock 
was reduced to one duck which had 
presumably eaten up all its fellows. 

Canaries, To dance the : to take part in a 
lively Span, dance, called the CaJiary 
or Canaries, believed to have originated 
in the Canary Islands. 

Canary, A : (i) a guinea, from the 
colour of that coin ; (2) a singing-bird, 
after the Canary Islands. 

Canary Bird, A : a gaol-bird, a convict. 
Either on account of the colour of the 
uniform formerly worn by them, or, 
more probably, from the cage (prison) 
in which a convict is confined. 

Cancan, The : a noisy, indecent dance. 
Suggested etymologies are: (i) Old- 
French, caquehan, a tumultuous 
assembly ; (2) Fr., cancaner, to quack 
as a duck ; (3) Lat., quanquam, about 
the pronunciation of which there was 
a noisy disputation in the Fr. schools. 

Candle, As fine (gay) as the King's : 
generally applied to an overdressed 
woman. An allusion to the ancient 
practice of presenting gaily-coloured 
candles to the Three Kings of Cologne 
on the 6th January. 

Candle, As upright as a : [Heywood, 
Proverbes (1546)] 

Candle at both ends, To burn the : to use 
one's resources extravagantly, either 
by spending more than one earns, or 
by encroaching in work on one's time 
of rest and recreation. [Le Sage, 
Gil Bias. VH, 13] 

Candle : Bell, Book, and : see Bell. 

Candle, Sale by the : a kind of sale by 
auction, the bids being open until the 
candle has burnt down to a certain 

Candle, The game is not worth the : i.e., 
not worth undertaking. Apparently 
in allusion to a game played by 
candle-light, the stakes in which were 
of small amount, barely sufficient to 
pay for the value of the candle. [Geo. 
Herbert, Jacula Prudentum (1640); 
Corneille, Le Menteur, I, i (1642)] 
Candle to . . Not fit to hold a : altogether 
inferior to . . In allusion to the link- 



boys who used to hold the torches at 
places of entertainment. 

Candle to seek another. To bum one : 
to throw good money after bad. 
[Gosson, Schoole of Abuse (1579)] 

Candle to the Devil, To hold a : orig. to 
propitiate Satan, just as Saints are 
propitiated by candles ; later, to assist 
in evil courses. Lit., to attend on the 
Devil by holding a candle as a light for 
him. [Paston Letters, No. 428 (1461)] 

Candle to the Sun, To bold a : to seek to 
compare one's little exploits with far 
greater ones. [Diogenianus, Proverbia, 
VI, 27 ; Earl of Surrey, A Praise of 
his Love, II. 27-30 (1557)] 

Candle to . . To hold a : to direct atten- 
tion to. [Shakespeare. The Merchant 
of Venice, II, v (159b)] 

Candles of the night, Tbe : the stars. 
[Shakespeare, Merchant of Venice, V, i 

Candle-ends, To drink off: a romantic 
manner of drinking a lady's health. 
[Shakespeare, 2 Henry IV, II, iv, 267 

Candle-holder, A : an abettor. From the 
practice in the Roman Catholic Church 
of holding a candle to the reader. 
Candle-rent : rent derived from property 
which is continually deteriorating in 
Candle-waster, A : one who reads or 
studies or otherwise sits up at 
night, thereby wasting candles. [Ben 
Jonson, Cynthia's Revels (1599) ; 
Shakespeare, Much Ado About 
Nothing, V, i (1599)] 
Candlemas Day : Feb. 2, the Festival of 
the Purification of the Virgin, when 
candles are burnt. 
Candour, Mrs. : a slanderous hjrpo- 
critical woman ; after a character in 
Sheridan, The School for Scandal (1777). 
Canicular Days : the Dog Days ; period 
about Aug. II, the time of the rising 
of the Dog-star. Lat., canicularis, 
relating to the Dog-star. 
Canidia, A : a witch, [Horace, Epodes, 

Cannae, A (To be one's) : to engage in a 
fatal battle, bringing one's period of 
success to a close. After the battle at 
which Hannibal defeated L. Aemilius 
Paulus (216 B.C.). 
Cannibal, A : a human man-eater. A 
corruption of Span. Caribal, a 
Cannon-fodder : infantry soldiers, esp. 
of an inferior quality. The term is 


derived from Shakespeare, i Henry IV, 
IV, ii, 60 : ' food for powder.' 
Canoe, To paddle one's own : see 

Canonical Hours : see Hours. 
Canossa, To go to : to submit ; to eat 
humble-pie. After the castle in 
Tuscany where the Emp. Henry IV 
made his submission to Pope Hilde- 
brand in 1077. The phrase was coined 
by Bismarck in the Reichstag debates 
of 1872 in the KuUiirkampf . 
Canossa Bill, The : the bill incorporating 
terms of settlement with the Catholic 
Party introduced into the Prussian 
Landtag in 1882. 
Cant : hypocrisy. Either (i) after 
Andrew Cant (1590-1663), Scot. 
Covenanter, who, while relentlessly 
persecuting those whom he considered 
heretics, prayed on their behalf ; or 
(2) more probably, from Lat., cantus, 
a chant, on account of the drawling, 
whining tones with which cant is 

Cantab, A : a member of the University 
of Cambridge. Abbrev. of Canta- 
brigian, from Cantabrigia, the Latin 
for Cambridge. 

Canter, A : an easy gallop. Contraction 
of ' Canterbury gallop,' the pace of the 
pilgrims to Becket's shrine at Canter- 

Canterbury Tale, A : a long or tedious 
story, or one not worthy of credence. 
After the title of Chaucer's poem. In 
latter sense term in frequent use in 
1 6th cent. [Turbery, Book of 
Falconrie, 260 (1575)] 

Canting Coat : the Geneva gown ; the 
vestment of a Puritan divine. From 
' cant ' in the sense of hypocrisy, 
applied in 17th cent, to Puritans and 
Presbyterians as a term of abuse. 

Canuck, A : an American term for a 
Canadian. Said to be a corruption of 
' Connaught,' a term applied to Enghsh 
Canadians by their French fellow- 

Canvas, A : an oil-painting. After the 
material basis of the picture. 

Canvas, A man of : an artist. 

Canvas-back, A : the reverse of a thing 
far inferior to the front. Properly, the 
canvas back of a garment. 

Canvas City, A : a military camp. Orig. 
the Volunteer encampment at Wimble- 

Cap, A feather in one's : an achievement 
that justifies pride. 



Cap a person. To : to confer a University 

degree (in Scotland). 
Cap (an anecdote, etc.). To : to follow it 
by relating one still better. [Shakes- 
peare, Henry V, II, vii, 124 (1584)] 
Cap and bells. To wear the : to be an 
object of ridicule. From the sjnnbol 
worn by a professional jester. 
Cap at a person. To set one's : (of a 
woman) to endeavour to attract the 
favourable attention of a man ; 
possibly by wearing her most attractive 
cap for his benefit. 
Cap at. To throw one's : to be envious of. 
[Three-fold Discourse Betweene Three 
Neighbours (1642)] 
Cap and Feather Days : childhood. 
Cap fits. The : the remark applies. Part 
of the Italian saying ' If the cap fits, 
wear it.' [Fiacchi, Favole, LXXVIII] 
Cap of fools. The : the most foolish of 

the fools. 
Cap of Liberty, The : the symbol of 
Republicanism. From the cap given 
to Roman slaves on their emanci- 
Cap of Maintenance, The : a cap carried 
before a dignitary on ceremonial 
Cap, To put on one's considering : see 

Considering Cap. 
Cap the globe. To : to surpass everything. 

See Cap an anecdote. 
Cap to . . To : to assent to . . In 
allusion to the custom among French 
judges of signifying their assent to a 
conclusion by raising their caps. 
Caps, Blue : see Blue. 
Caps, To pull : to quarrel, like two 
women who pull at one another's 
Cap-S-pie {Old Fr.) : from head to foot. 
A feudal phrase referring orig. to 
Cap-in-hand : submissive. From the 
practice of uncovering the head in the 
presence of a superior. 
Cape Merchant, A : a supercargo ; a 
head merchant in a factory. Probably 
the correct form is ' Cap merchant,' 
head merchant, from ' cap.' 
Cape Sheep, A : a sailor's term for the 
albatross which frequents the vicinity 
of the Cape of Good Hope. 
Capers, To cut : to frolic. Lat., caper, a 
wild-goat, via Fr., capriole, a frolic- 
some leap. [A Match at Midnight, 
IV, i (1633)] 
Caperclaw, To : to scratch with the open 
hand. Properly, clapperclaw [q.v.). 


Capeidochy, A : a prison. After Cappa- 
docia, the king of which was, according 
to Horace, rich in slaves but poor in 

Capernaite, A : a believer in transub- 
stantiation. From Capernaum, in 
Galilee. [John, vi, 52] 

Capital out of . . To make : to take 
advantage of an event or circumstance. 

Capitals, To speak in : to lay great 
emphasis on certain words. [Sir 
Thos. Browne, Religio Medici, Pt. I 


Capitol, A : a legislative building, esp. 
in the U.S. After the legislative 
building in ancient Rome. 

Capitularies : edicts of the early French 

Capitulations : arrangements whereby 
Europeans in most non-Christian 
States are not subject to the tribunals 
of the State but to that of the Consul 
of their own nation. 

Capon, A Crail's : a dried haddock. 

Capon, A Glasgow : a salt herring. See 
Glasgow Magistrate. 

Capon, A Severn : a sole. 

Capon, A Yarmouth : a red herring. 

Caporal King, The : Frederick William I 
of Prussia. On account of his devotion 
and services to his army. 

Caporal, Le Petit (Fr., the Little 
Corporal) : Napoleon I. So-called by 
his soldiers. 

Caporal Violet : Napoleon I. A name by 
which he was called by his friends in 
France during his exile in Elba, in the 
hope that he would return in the spring. 

Cappadochio, A : a prison ; see Caper- 

Captain of the Age, The : the Duke of 
Wellington, so-caJled by Sir Francis 

Captain Armstrong, To come : (of a 
jockey) to pull his horse so as to 
prevent it from winning. A play on 
' strong arm.' 

Captain Copperthome's Crew : all leaders 
and no followers. 

Captain of Kcepenick, A : a picturesque 
and amusing thief. From one Voigt, 
a shoemaker, who in Oct., 1906, 
masquerading as an army captain, 
induced the Burgomaster of KOpenick 
in Prussia to transfer to him the funds 
of the municipality. 

Captain Podd : a showman. After one 
famous in the i6th and 17th cents. 

Captain Stiff over. To come : to treat 
with extreme formality. 

74 [Card 

Captain of the suburbs, A : a pickpocket 
or other street criminal. 

Capua, A : a scene of degeneration due 
to self-indulgence. After the Ital. city 
whose luxury demoralized Hannibal's 

Capua, The wealth of: the luxury of 
Capua was proverbial in 2nd and 3rd 
cents. B.C. 

Capuchins : a Roman Catholic religious 
Order, the mendicant friars of the 
Franciscan Order, founded in 1529. 
Fr., capuche, a pointed cowl, worn by 

Caput mortuum : worthless residue. It 
is the technical term used in chemistry 
to denote the useless remnant after 
distillation or sublimation. 

Carabas, A Marquis of : a pretentious, 
conservative old aristocrat. After a 
character in Le Chat BotU (Puss in 
Boots), one of Perrault's Contes 
(17th cent.). 

Carabineers, The : the 6th Dragoon 
Guards. On account of the carbines 
with which they were formerly armed. 

Caracole, To : to caper about. Properly 
(of a horse) to perform a series of 
half-wheeling motions. 

Carat : a weight for precious metals and 
gems. From Grk., keration, the seed 
of the locust-tree, which was at one 
time used as the weight. 

Caraway : an edible seed. From Caria, 
in Asia Minor, whence it was at 
one time obtziined. 

Carbonari : secret revolutionary societies 
in Italy and Portugal in the early 19th 
cent. Ital., carbonari, charcoal- 
burners, in whose huts the conspirators 
met. Also the extreme royalists who 
conspired against Louis XVIII in 

Carcel-lamp, A : a clockwork lamp ; a 
unit of illuminating power. After 
Carcel, the inventor. 

Card, A : a slang- term, used generally in 
conjunction with an adjective, to 
describe a person with some peculiar 
trait, e.g., ' queer,' ' knowing.' 
Perhaps descended from the phrase ' a 
sure card ' {q.v. inf.). 

Card, A leading : a precedent. 

Card, A sure : a safe card to play, one 
which is certain to win ; later, a 
person who can be relied on. 

Card, To play one's best : to make one's 
principal point in a contest. 

Card, To play one's last : to make one's 
last remaining eflort, A card-playing 



metaphor. [Bunyan, The Holy War 

Card, To speak by the : to speak with 
absolute accuracy ; in allusion to the 
card of the mariner's compass. 
[Shakespeare, Hamlet, V, i, 149 

Cards, A house of : an unsubstantial, 
insecure scheme, which, like a ' house ' 
built by children of playing-cards, is 
liable to tumble to pieces at a mere 

Cards in one's hands. To have the : to 
have the opportunity with one. A 
card-playing metaphor. {Life and 
Death of Jack Straw, I, 1. 208 (1593)] 

Cards, To be on the : to be likely or 
possible to happen ; referring either to 
card-playing, from the possibility of 
any card to be turned up in the game ; 
or to the practice of forecasting the 
future from cards. Popularized by 
Dickens, but in literary use as early 
as Smollett. 

Cards, To go in with good : to have 
excellent reasons for expecting success. 

Cards well (badly). To play one's : to act 
with discretion (without discretion). 
A card-playing metaphor. [Arth. 
Murphy, Three Weeks after Marriage, 
I (1776)] 

Cards, To show one's : to exhibit one's 
resources and intentions. A card- 
playing metaphor. 

Cards, To throw up the : to abandon the 
contest. A card -playing metaphor. 

Cardigan ; Cardigan-jacket, A : a 
knitted woollen waistcoat. After the 
7th Earl of Cardigan (1797-1868). 

Cardinal, The Gray : see Gray. 

Cardinal of the Huguenots, The : Cardinal 
Richelieu (1585-1642), who granted 
tolerance to the Calvinists of France 
in 1629, supported the Protestants of 
Germany against the Emperor, and 
those of the Grisons and the Low 
Countries against Catholic Spain. 

Cardinal virtues. The : justice, prudence, 
temperance and fortitude — the chief 
' natural ' virtues, to which are some- 
times added faith, hope and charity — 
the theological virtues. 

Care (Careaway) Sunday : the fifth 
Sunday in Lent ; formerly the Sunday 
before Good Friday. See next entry. 
Perhaps (by folk-etymology) derived 
from ' care ' in the sense of ' grief.' 

Carlin (Carling ; Carl) Sunday : the fifth 
Sunday in Lent. When there was 
great scarcity in Northumbria in 13th ' 


cent., a ship unexpectedly arrived 
with a cargo of carlin peas, and re- 
moved the danger of starvation. See 
also Care Sunday. 

Carlists : supporters of Don Carlos, 
claimant to the throne of Spain, or of 
his descendants. Their claim is based 
on the illegality of the succession of a 
woman to the throne of Spain. 

Carmagnole, The : a French revolution- 
ary song and dance. After a dress of 
that name worn by the Jacobins in 
the French Revolution. From 
Carmagnola, in Italy. 

Carmelites, The t the White Friars, a 
mendicant religious order, formed in 
Palestine in 12th cent. From Mount 
Carmel, whose hermits were the 
originators of the Order. 

Carnival, A : a riotous festival ; the 
festival immediately preceding Lent. 
Medieval Lat., carnelevarium. Shrove 
Tuesday, from caro, flesh, and levare, 
to put aside. 

Carpet, On the : under consideration. 
Lit., on the Council table. Sur le 
tapis is used in the same sense. 

Carpet-bagger, A : a candidate for a 
constituency brought from outside 
and unknown to the electors. Orig. a 
U.S. political term applied to adven- 
turers in the Southern States after the 
Civil War. In both cases the whole of 
their visible property could be enclosed 
in a carpet-bag. 

Carpet knight (captain ; coward), A : a 
soldier who frequents carpeted rooms 
in preference to the field of battle. 
See Carpet-monger. 

Carpet squire, A : a carpet-monger 

Carpet-dance, A : a dance in a carpeted 
room, not in a ball-room with polished 
floors ; an informal dance. 

Carpet-monger ; carpet-captain ; carpet- 
coward, A : a man who frequents 
drawing-rooms, boudoirs, and other 
carpeted chambers. A term suggesting 

Carrageen ; Carragheen : Irish moss, a 
substitute for isinglass. After Carrag- 
heen, in Ireland. 

Carriage-folk (company) : people who 
keep their own carriages. 

Carrier's journeys, By : slowly. [Killi- 
grew. The Parson's Wedding, II, v 

Carrigre ouverte aux talents {Fr.,di. career 
open to the talents) : the principle 
expressed by Napoleon I. 


Carronade, A : a short cannon with a 
large bore. From the Carron Iron- 
works in Scotland. 

Carrots : a jocular term of address to red- 
haired people. Probably because the 
carrot is red, but derived by some from 
Judas Iscariot, who, according to 
trauiition was red-haired. ' Ginger ' 
is similarly an address to yellow-haired 

Cart before the horse, To put the : to 
reverse the natural or correct order, 
either in an undertaking or a descriptive 
account. [Robert Whittington, 

Vulgaria {1520)] 

Carta blanca [Ital.) ; Carte blanche {Fr.) : 
a free hand to act as one's discretion 
dictates. Lit., ' white paper,' i.e., 
without instructions. 

Carte de Visite, A : a small-sized photo- 
graph. From the practice of the Duke 
of Parma (1857) of having his photo- 
graph on the back of his visiting-card. 

Cartel, A : a combination of manu- 
facturers (esp. of sugar, in Austria) 
who, by means of heavy import-duties, 
are enabled to make large profits by 
sales at home and thus to sell abroad 
below cost-price. 

Carthage of the North : Lubeck, the head 
of the Hanseatic League {see Hansa 
Towns) . 

Carthaginian Faith : see Punic Faith. 

Carthaginian Peace, A : a treaty of peace, 
so harsh in its conditions as to involve 
almost the destruction of the defeated 
party. Applied in particular to the 
Treaty of Versailles of 1919. See 
Delenda est Carthago. 

Carthago, Delenda est : see Delenda. 

Carthusians : a monastic Order, founded 
in 1084 at Chartreuse, in France. 

Carthusian Silence : almost complete 
silence. From the severe regimen of 
the Carthusian Order of monks, which 
includes frequent and long periods of 

Caryatid, A : a female figure in sculpture. 
From a woman of Caryae, Laconia, 
Greece, a priestess of Diana. 

Casablanca, A : a heroic boy. After 
Giacomo Jocante Casablanca, son of 
a Fr. naval officer. He perished nobly 
at the Battle of the Nile. His deed 
was sung in a famous poem by Felicia 
Hemans, which has popularized his 

Case-hardened : impervious to im- 
pressions. Lit., hardened on the 
surface. An engineering metaphor. 

76 [Casus 

Cashmere : a fine woollen material made 
from the hair of the Cashmere goat. 

Casket Letters, The : the letters sent by . 
Mary, Queen of Scots, to Bothwell, 1 
which, if genuine, would prove her " 
complicity in the murder of Darnley. 

Cassandra, A : a prophetess of evil whose 
warnings are disregarded. After 
Cassandra, daughter of Priam, King 
of Troy, whose prophecies of woe were 

Cassius, Purple of : a purple pigment. 
After Andreas Cassius (d. 1680), Germ, 
physician and chemist, the inventor. 

Cast beyond the moon. To : to calculate 
fancifully concerning something very 
remote. [Heywood, Proverbes (1562)] 

Castalian : poetic. After the name of 
the fountain of the Muses on Mount 

Caste, To lose : to suSer reduction in 
status. In allusion to the Indian 

Casting-counters : counters used for the 
process of calculation. 

Castle, The : Dublin Castle, the seat of ■ 
the Irish administration. 

Castle of Maidens, The : Edinburgh. 

Castle, Old Lad of the. An : a hail-fellow 
well met. Probably an equivalent of 
Castilian, once considered a perfect 
gentleman. [i6th cent.] 

Castles in Spain : daydreams ; castles in 
the air (q.v.). Orig. a Fr. phrase (nth 
cent.), Spain being the nearest Mo- 
hammedan country and therefore 
outside the pale of medieval civili- 
zation. The phrase may have arisen 
out of the wonderful rewards that fell 
to Henry of Burgundy and his followers 
on their invasion of Spain and Portugal 
to assist the Christians against the 
Moslems. One result was the creation 
of the kingdom of Portugal, of which 
Henry's son was the first monarch. 
It may be mentioned that at that 
period the castles of Spain were very 
few in number and every French baron 
who settled in the country had to build 
one for his occupation. [Romaunt of 
the Rose (1400)] 

Castles in the air : daydreams ; projects 
never expected or even intended to be 
realized. [North, Plutarch (1580)] 

Castles, To build : to give reins to one's 
imagination ; to be unduly optimistic 
See Castles in the air. 

Casus belli {Lat., a cause of war) : an 
international offence justifying a 
declciration of war. 


Casus foederis (Lai., a cause of a treaty) : 
an event that involves action by a 
State in accordance with the terms of 
an international treaty. 

Cat, The : see Cat-o'-nine-tails. 

Cat, As sick as a : in allusion to the 
proneness of cats to vomit. The 
original form was ' As sick as cats 
eating rats.' 

Cat can lick her ear. Before a : i.e., 
never, because a cat cannot lick her ear. 

Cat, Cheshire, A : see Cheshire Cat. 

Cat in. Not room to swing a : in allusion 
to the ' sport ' of hanging a cat to a 
tree as a target. 

Cat in pan . . To turn : to prove 
perfidious ; to change one's side. A 
cookery metaphor ; from cate, cake. 
Another derivation is from the Cati- 
pani, a South-Ital. race, notorious for 
its perfidy. Yet another derivation is 
from the French, tourner cote en peine, 
to turn sides in trouble. [Hejrwood, 
Proverbes (1546)] 

Cat i' the adage. The : in the adage the 
cat covets fish but does not like to 
wet its paws. [Shakespeare, Macbeth, 
I, vii (1605)] 

Cat jumps. To see which way the : to 
watch which direction events are 
taking before one acts ; to ' wait and 
see.' Derived from the game of 

Cat, Nine lives of a : see Nine lives. 

Cat-o'-nine-tails, A : a whip, for use on 
human beings, with nine knotted 
lashes. Orig. used on board ship, 
where ropes are called ' cats.' 

Cat out of the bag. To let the : to disclose 
a secret. From the swindle at country 
fairs of selling cats (in place of sucking- 
pigs) enclosed in bags. 

Cat, To whip the : to play a practical 
joke. After a standing joke played on 
stupid country men in parts of England. 

Cats and dogs. To rain : to rain very 
heavily. [Swift, Polite Conversation 
{1731)] Possibly a corruption of 
' catalupe,' a waterfall. 

Cat's foot. To live under the : to live 
under female control. In allusion to a 
mouse living on sufferance under the 
control of the cat. 

Cats in a gutter. To agree like two : 
[Jno. Heywood, Proverbes (1546)] 

Cats, Kilkenny : see Kilkenny cats. 

Cat-a-mount ; Cat-o'-moimtain : a pop- 
ular name for the Amer. lynx. 

Cat-call, A : unpleasant noises, made to 
disconcert speakers at a public meeting 

77 [Catchpenny 

or to express disapproval of a theatrical 

Cat-and-dog life, A : a life filled with 
strife and quarrels, in allusion to the 
proverbial enmity between the two 
animals. [How a Man May Choose a 
Good Wife from a Bad, I, i (1602)] 

Cat-and-dog money : a charitable fund 
administered at Christchurch, Spital- 
fields ; traditionally believed in the 
first instance to have been used for the 
benefit of cats and dogs. 

Cataloon : a fabric. After Catalonia, in 

Cat's-eye, A : a precious stone, which, 
when held to the light, resembles the 
contracted pupil of a cat's eye. 

Catspaw, A : a person used as a tool by 
another to serve his purposes. From 
the fable of the monkey that used the 
paw or foot of a cat to take the 
roasting chestnuts from the fire. The 
monkey is said to have belonged to 
Pope Julius II. [Grose, Dictionary of 
the Vulgar Tongue (1785)] 

Cat's-sleep, A : sham sleep, like that of a 
cat watching a mouse. [Dekker and 
Webster, Northvuard Ho, III, ii 

Catalan, A : a Chinaman ; a cheat. 
After Cataia (Cathay), an early name 
for China. Early travellers to China 
gave the people a reputation for 

Catch a crab. To : in rowing, to raise the 
oar out of the water before pulling it. 
From the crab-like appearance of the 
rower as he falls backward. 

Catch a hare. To sell an ox to : see Sell. 

Catch a Tartar, To : to be held up by a 
prisoner one has oneself taken ; to get 
more than one bargained for. From 
the story of the Irish soldier who took 
a Turk prisoner, and, on being ordered 
to bring him along, replied : ' He 
won't let me ! ' and was then ordered 
to come on alone. 

Catch a weasel asleep, To : to attempt the 
impossible. The weasel is reputed to 
be always awake. 

Catch the Whigs bathing. To : see Whigs. 

Catch the wind with a net. To : to 
attempt the impossible. 

Catchpenny, A : something of little or no 
value made up to attract cheap 
purchasers. Corruption of Catnach 
Penny, after James Catnach (1792- 
1841), a publisher of cheap and trashy 
literature which was hawked in the 


Catchpoll (Catohpole), A : a minor official 
of a Court of Justice. In use in 
England as early as 12th cent. 

Cathay : the name given to Northern 
China by Marco Polo. From Ki-tah, 
the race that ruled in that region in 
loth cent. 

Cathay, A cycle of : a period of 60 years. 

Catherine's tresses. To braid : to live 
and die a virgin. 

Catherine wheel, A : a revolving fire- 
work ; a circular window ; a somer- 
sault. After St. Catherine of Alex- 
andria, who was martyred by being 
broken on the wheel. 

Catherine wheel politicians : time-serving 

Catherine wheel republics : ' always in 
revolution while the powder lasts.' 
Jas. Russell Lowell (1819-91) in My 
Study Windows (1870). 

Catherine wheel. To turn a : to turn a 
somersault sideways, as distinct from 
backwards and forwards. 

Catherine wheel window, A : a window, 
or compartment of a window, of a 
circular form with radiating divisions 
or spokes. 

Catholic, A : a member of the Church 
which is under the allegiance of the 
Pope. Grk., Katholikos, universal. 

Catholic Apostolic Church : a secessionist 
community founded by Edward Irving 
(1792 -1 83 4), the members of which 
are known as Irvingites. 

Catholic Association, The : an association 
formed in 1823 by Daniel O'Connell to 
secure the emancipation of the Roman 
Catholics in the United Kingdom. 

Catholic Majesty : a title of the kings of 
Spain ; conferred at the Council of 
Toledo in 590. 

Catholic Bent : an unofficial tax levied 
in Ireland by Dajiiel O'Connell for the 
support of his Catholic Association 

Catholics, Old : secessionists from the 
Catholic Church after the Vatican 
Council of 1 8 70- 1. 

Catiline, A : a profligate conspirator. 
After Lucius Sergius Catilina (109-62 

Catilinarian Existence, A : an existence 
supported by conspiracy. A phrase 
used by Bismarck in a debate in the 
Prussian House of Deputies in 1863 ; 
also the title of a novel, published by 
Theodor K5nig in 1854. 

Cat-lap : a non-intoxicating drink, such 
as tea; that which a cat might lap. 

78 [Ca?e 

Cato, A : a self-denying, quiet-living 
man, blunt of speech and renowned 
for his devotion to justice and 
patriotism. After Marcus Fortius 
Cato (95-46 B.C.). 

Cato's meal : a model meal. 

Caucus, A : a private meeting of a 
poUtical party, for the adoption of a 
programme or the selection of a 
candidate ; the political machine 
which chooses candidates and lays 
down policies. Coined in the U.S. 
early in i8th cent. A suggested 
derivation is from the Caulkers' Club, 
in Boston, U.S., one of the elements in 
the Amer. Revolution ; another is 
from Amer.-Ind. caw-cawwassoughes, 

Caudine Forks : a crushing defeat. 
After the defile near Caudium in 
Samnium where the Romans suffered 
an overwhelming defeat in the Second 
Samnite War (321 B.C.). The defeat- 
ed army was forced to pass under the 
yoke (forks). 

Caudle, A Mrs. : see Curtain-Lecture. 

Caudle-cup, A : a warm drink given to 
invalids and also to their visitors. 
Lat., caldus, warm. 

Caul on one's head. To be bom with a : 
to be bom lucky. From the super- 
stition attaching to infants bom 
with a caul or membrane on their 

Causa causans (Lat., the cause causing) : 
the remote cause. 

Causa causata (Lat., a cause caused) : 
a secondary cause. 

Cause of causes. The : love. 

Cause calibre, A (Fr., celebrated law- 
suit) : a lawsuit which attracts much 

Cause, The First : God, the Creator of 
the Universe. [Manasseh ben Israel, 
Vindiciae Judaeorum (1657)] 

Cause with . . To make common : to 
co-operate with . . 

Caution-money : money deposited as 
security for good conduct. 

Cavaliers : supporters of Charles I, before 
and during the Civil War, the Party 
out of which grew the Tories. Fr., 
chevalier, knight. 

Ca va sans dire (Fr., that goes without 

' saying) : that is a matter of course. 

Cave, A : see AduUamites. 

Cave of Adullam : see AduUam. 

Cave in. To : to submit ; to withdraw 
from. Lit., of walls, etc., falling in 
from want of support. 


Cavecanem {Lat., beware of the dog !) : 

an inscription frequently found on the 
thresholds of Roman houses. 

Cave, To cry : to give warning. Lat., 
Cave ! beware ! 

Caveat against . . To enter a : to issue 
a warning against ; to lay down 
conditions. A legal process. Lat., 
caveat, let him beware. 

Caveat emptor (Lat., let the buyer 
beware) : a legal maxim : it is for the 
purchaser to assure himself {e.g., of the 
quality of the goods) he is about to buy. 

Cavendish's wealth. Captain : in allusion 
to the wealth acquired by Thomas 
Cavendish in the course of his plunder- 
ing expedition to South America in 

Caviare to the general : said of some- 
thing that is an acquired taste, not 
palatable to the majority. From 
caviare, the roe of the sturgeon, which 
is not pleasing to all tastes. [Shakes- 
peare, Hamlet, II, ii (1602)] 

Cayenne : hot red-pepper. After an 
island off the coast of Guiana. 

Ceca to Mecca, From : aimlessly ; from 
one end of the world to another. Both 
Ceca and Mecca are places of Mo- 
hammedan pilgrimage. Ceca (Arabic, 
the mint) was the name given by 
Christians to the mosque at Cordova. 
[Cervantes, Don Quixote, I, iii, 4] 

Cecil's fast : a meal of fish. From the 
legislation introduced by William 
Cecil, Lord Burleigh, making com- 
pulsory the eating of fish on certain 

Cecrops, As noble as : according to 
tradition Cecrops was the first King 
of Athens and the introducer of 
civilization into Greece. 

Celestial, A : a European designation for 
a Chinaman. See Celestial Empire. 

Celestial City, The : Heaven. So-called 
by Bunyan in The Pilgrim's Progress 

Celestial Empire, The : one of the native 
names for the Chinese Empire. The 
first Emperors were believed to be of 
divine origin. 

Centaur, To be a very : to ride fast. 

Centaur, A : a wild untamable creature ; 
an expert rider. After a fabulous 
race, half-man, half-horse, that is 
reputed to have lived in Thessaly. 

Centennial State, The : Colorado, ad- 
mitted into the Union in 1876, a 
century after the Declaration of 

79 [Chair 

Centipedes, The : the looth Regt. of 
Foot. After the insect popularly 
supposed to have 100 feet. 

Centre, The : a political party holding 
opinions half-way between the two 
extremes. In France, the Moderate 
Republicans ; in Germany, the Catholic 

Century Plant, The : the agave, supposed 
to flower only once in a hundred years. 
Not to be confused with ' centaury.' 

Cepola, Devices of : legal technicalities. 
After the devices of Bartholomew 
Cepola (d. 1474) for the prolongation 
of lawsuits. 

Cerberus, A : a fierce, watchful guardian. 
Cerberus was the three-headed dog, 
the guardian of the entrance to Hades. 

Cerberus, A sop to : see Sop. 

Cerberus of the Muses, The : Lucian 
(120-80), Grk. writer and satirist, so- 
called by Scaliger. 

Cereal : a grain. After Ceres (q.v.). 

Ceremony, To stand on : to insist on the 
punctilious observance of formaUties. 
[Shakespeare, Julius Ctssar, II, ii, 13 

Ceres : Com. After the name of the 
Roman goddess of the harvest. 

Cervantic : in the style of Don Quixote. 
by Cervantes (1547-1616). 

Cesarevich, The : (1) the eldest son of 
the Tsar (Czar) ; (2) an Engl, horse- 
race, founded in 1839 in honour of 
Alexander II, then Cesarevich. 

Cess : see Bad Cess. 

Cess, Out of all : out of all measure. 
[Shakespeare, i Henry IV, II, i 

Ceteris paribus {Lat., other things being 
equal) : assuming that other things 
are equal. 

Chadband, A : a canting hypocrite. 
After a character in Dickens, Bleak 
House (1852). 

Chaff : banter. In use as early as 17th 
cent. Either from (i) the proverb, 
' A bird is not caught with chaff ' ; or 
(2) to ' chafe,' to worry. Another 
suggested derivation is from a custom 
in the North Midlands of emptying a 
sack of chaff at the door of a man who 
ill-treats his wife, to indicate that 
thrashing is done there. 

Chair, The : the office of President of a 
meeting, Speaker of the House of 
Commons, etc. Either a contraction 
of ' chairman,' or the transference of 
the word denoting the principal seat 
to the person who occupies it. 

Chair] 80 

Chair, To pass the : to have been elected 

Chair, To take up the : to assume the 

lead. [Rob. Johnson, Essayes : Of 

Speech (1607)] 
Chair of St. Peter, The : the office of the 

Papacy, whose first incumbent was 

St. Peter. 
Chair-days : old age, spent to a con- 
siderable extent resting in a chair. 

[Shakespeare, 2 Henry VI, V, ii 


Chalcedony : a precious stone. From 
Chalcedon, in Asia Minor, where it was 
first discovered. 

Chaldean, A : an astrologer ; sooth- 
sayer. From Chaldea, whose in- 
habitants were reputed to be learned 
in magic. 

Chalk from cheese. To know : to be 
wide-awake ; to be conscious where 
one's advantage lies. [John Bow and 
Mast Person (1548)] See also Gower, 
Confessio Amantis (1393), ' Lo ! how 
they feignen chalk for cheese ' ; 
Shacklock, Hatchet of Heresies (1565), 
' Do not these thynges differ as muche 
as chalcke and chese ' ; and Jno. 
Heywood, Proverbes (1546), ' as well 
agreeth the comparison in these, as a 
lyke to compare in tast, chalke and 

Chalk it up. To : to make a public note 
of ; to advertise. From the practice 
of chalking a customer's indebtedness 
on a slate that was hung up in the 

Chalk of one and cheese of another. To 
make : to show favouritism, to treat 
two people differently. 

Chalk, To glue : see Glue. 

Chsilks, By long : to a large extent ; 
greatly. In allusion to the use of 
chalk in scoring at games. 

Chalybean-tempered steel : in allusion to 
the Chalybes, an ancient race of Asia 
Minor, famous for its skill in working 
iron. [Milton, Samson Agonistes, 11. 
128-34 (1671)] 

Cham : a title applied to the Emperor of 
China and other Tartar and Mongol 
rulers. A corruption of Khan, a title 
adopted by Chingiz (i 162-1227) when 
he became ruler of the Mongols and 

Cham of Literature, The Great : Samuel 
Johnson (1709-84), so-called by 

Chambres Ardentes {Fr., lighted 
chambers) : extraordinary tribunals 


under the French monarchy, held in 
rooms from which daylight was 

Chameleon, To act as a ; To chameleon- 
ize : to change one's opinions fre- 
quently ; to be inconstant. From the 
chameleon, a lizard which adapts its 
appearance to its environment. 

Chance, To have an eye to the main : 
to have one's own interest always in 
view. Metaphor drawn from the game 
of hazard. [Ben Jonson, The Case is 
Altered, IV, iv (1601)] 

Chancelleries of Europe, The : the 
diplomatists of Europe. From 
chancellery, the official residence of 
the Chancellor of a legation. 

Chancery, To get a person's head in : a 
term in pugilism, when the head is so 
held by the opponent as to be at his 
mercy. The helplessness of the 
litigant who gets into the Court of 
Chancery is well known. 

Chandra (Sanskrit) : the moon ; hence 
any illustrious person. 

Chaneph : a centre of hypocrisy. After 
the island of religious hypocrites in 
Rabelais, Pantagruel (1533). 

Change a fly into an elephant. To : to 
undertake an impossible task. An 
ancient Grk. proverb. 

Change (swop) horses while crossing a 
stream. To : to change one's instru- 
ments or weapons in a time of extreme 
difficulty. Phrase attributed by 
Abraham Lincoln to a Dutch farmer. 

Change one's copy. To : to alter one's 
tactics. [Rich. Edwards, Damon and 
Pithias. 11. 268-70 (1567)] 

Change out of . . To ta^e the : to get an 
equivalent out of . . ; to get more 
than an equivalent out of . . 

Change with every wind. To : to be very 
fickle. [Lyly, Euphues : Anatomy of 
Wit (1579)] 

Changes, To ring the : to repeat the same 
words, actions, etc., with many slight 
variations. Metaphor from bell- 
ringing. [T. Adams, The Devil's 
Banquet (1614)] In slang, to cheat 
by means of coins. 

Chanson de geste, A. {Fr.) : a Fr. heroic 

song of the nth to 15th cents. 
Chantage : blackmail. A euphuism for 
singing to another man's tune, or 
paying blackmail under his pressure. 
Chanticleer, A : a name of the farm -yard 
cock. After the name of the cock in 
Reynard the Fox. Fr. , chanter., to sing ; 
cler, clear. 


Chaonian Bird, The : the dove ; because 
it delivered the oracles of Chaonia. 

Chaonian food : acoms. In allusion to 
the oak-trees of Chaonia. 

Chaos, To speak of things more ancient 
than : see Speak. 

Chap, A : a man, or boy. Contraction 
of ' chapman,' one who sold in a 
' chepe ' (market) . 

Chap-book, A : a popular book sold in 
the streets and in villages by chapmen. 

Chap-fallen : see Chop-fallen. 

Chapel, A : an organization of printers' 
journeymen. From the disused 
chapel of Westminster Abbey in 
which Caxton set up his printing- 
press. Their representative is called 
the ' Father.' 

Chapter of Accidents, A : a series of un- 
expected events. From the form in a 
book divided into chapters in which 
the Roman laws were kept. 

Chapter, To the end of the : to the end. 
In allusion to the former practice of 
reading a complete chapter as the 
Lesson of the Church Service. [R. 
L'Estrange, in 1704] 

Chapter of Possibilities, A : a series of 
possible happenings ; parallel with 
Chapter of Accidents. 

Chapter and verse. To give : to give 
precise references to an authority for 
a statement. [Earle, Microcos- 
mography, XLIII (1628)] 

Chare Thursday : the Thursday in 
Passion Week. Properly, Shere Thurs- 
day, the Thursday before Easter, from 
the former practice of shearing the 
sheep on that day. 

Charge, To return to the : to bring the 
conversation constantly back to the 
original topic. 

Charivari, A : a travesty of a serenade ; 
an orchestra of discordant noises 
intended to express the unpopularity 
of the victim of it ; a babel. 

Charlemagne of the East, The : 
Aurungzebe (1618-1707), Mogul 

Charlemagne, The Second : see Second. 

Charles' head, I&ng : see King Charles. 

Charles' Wain : a constellation also 
known as The Great Bear. After 
Charlemagne (Charles the Great). 
The constellation Arcturus was sup- 
posed to be connected with King 
Arthur ; and the name of Charle- 
magne was therefore applied to a 
fellow-constellation. Another der. is 
from Ang.-Sax. churles, a farmer's 

81 [Chaucer's 

waggon, the constellation resembling a 
wagon in outline. 

Charley, A: a night watchman. Possibly 
because King Charles I reformed the 
watch-system of London in 1640. 

Charlie over the Water : the Young 
Pretender, Charles Edward Stuart, in 
exile on the Continent. 

Charmed life. To bear a : to be impervious 
to harm, as if by magical protection. 
[Shakespeare, Macbeth, V, viii, 12-3 

Charon, A : a ferryman. After the 
ferryman who ferried the souls of the 
dead to the Lower World. 

Chartered Libertine, A : the Eng. press. 
So-called by William Pitt, Earl of 
Chatham. Shakespeare [Henry V, 
I. i (1599)] refers to the air as a 
' chartered libertine.' 

Chartist, A : an Eng. Radical reformer 
of the period, 1837-48. From ' The 
People's Charter,' a statement of the 
Chartists' programme. 

Chartist Parson, The : Charles Kingsley 
(1819-75), clergyman and novelist, on 
account of his Chartist novel Alton 
Locke (1850). 

Chartreuse : a liqueur made by the 
Carthusian monks, formerly at La 
Grande Chartreuse, their principal 
house near Grenoble, France. From 
Cartusio, a neighbouring village. 

Charybdis : see Scylla and Charybdis. 

Chase, A stem : a pursuit in which one 
vessel follows directly in the wake of 
the other, i.e., keeps in a direct line 
with the other's stem. 

Chassepot, A : a French breech-loading 
rifle. After the name of its inventor, 
Antoine Alphonse Chassepot (b. 1833). 

Chaste as Ice, As : [Shakespeare, 
Hamlet, III, i, 136 (1602-3)] 

Chaste as an icicle. As : chaste with a 
suggestion of lack of feeling. [Shakes- 
peare, Coriolanus, V, iii, 1. 64 (1609)] 

Chastise the dead. To : to act in a futile 
manner. From an ancient Greek 

Chastise with scorpions. To : to punish 
with special severity. From the rule 
of Rehoboam, King of Judah, as 
described in I Kings, xii, 11. 

Chatterbox, A : one who talks incessantly. 

Chaucer of France, The : Clement 
Marot (1496- 1 544). 

Chaucer of Painting, The : Albert Durer 
(1471-1528), Germ, painter. 

Chaucer's Jest, A : an obscene or in- 
delicate act or remark. In allusion to 



some narratives in Chaucer, Canterbury 
Tales (14th cent.). 

Chaunticleer, A : see Chanticleer. 

Chautauqua : a society for the promotion 
of home-reading and study. After 
Chautauqua, a summer-resort in New 
York State, where the Chautauqua 
Literary and Scientific Circle has met 
since 1874. 

Chauvinism : exaggerated patriotism ; 
extreme Imperialism. After Chauvin, 
a character in Scribe, Soldat Laboureur, 
fanatically devoted to Napoleon ; or 
from a character in La Cocarde 
Trocolare (1831) by Theodore and 
Hippolyte Cogniard. 

Chaw-bacon, A : a country bumpkin. 
Bacon was at one time the only meat- 
food eaten by rustics. 

Chawed up : demolished ; chewed up. 

Cheap, To make oneself : to belittle one's 
own importance ; to be too accessible 
to others. [Wm. Penn, Some Fruits 
of Solitude. Pt. II, §203 (1718)] 

Cheap as the Sardinians, As : in allusion 
to the number of Sardinian prisoners 
brought to Rome by Tiberius Gracchus 
(177 B.C.). 

Cheap-Jack, A : a travellmg hawker, who 
sells by Dutch auction, i.e., reduces the 
price of his wares until he finds a 
purchaser. Anglo-Sax. chepe, a 
market. Sometimes Cheap-John. 

Chebeek ; Chebacco, A : a boat used in 
the Newfoundland fisheries. After the 
name of a North Amer. coast-town. 

Check-mate, A : a final defeat, A term 
used in the game of chess. (Pers. 
Shah mat, the king is dead.) [Totus 
Mundus in Maligna Pontus, 11. 37-40 

('557)] ^ . . „ 

Cheddar : a kind of cheese. Ongmally 
made at Cheddar, in Somerset. 

Chedreux, A : a kind of wig. After a 
French wig-maker. 

Cheek by iowl : side by side. [Du 
Bartas, First Week, First Day (1578)] 

Cheek to the smiter. To offer the : to be 
meek and forgiving under a wrong. 
In allusion to Matthew, v, 39, 

Cheeks, the Marine : a non-existent 
person. Invented by Captain Frederick 
Marryat. [Peter Simple, ch, vii (1834)] 

Cheeryble, A ; Cheeryble Brothers : 
kind-hearted philanthropists, who do 
good as a pleasure. After characters 
in Dickens, Nicholas Nickleby (1838). 

Cheeseparer, A : a mean, parsimonious 
person who might pare the last shred 
of cheese from the rind. 

82 [Chesterfield 

Cheeseparing (economy) : niggardliness. 

Cheese-toaster, A : a sword. In allusion 
to an implement for toasting cheese. 

Chef d'oeuvre, A {Fr., chief piece of 
work) : a masterpiece. [J. Chamber- 
lain, Court and Times of James I 

Chelsea, As dead as : see Dead. 

Cheque, To give a blank : see Blank. 

Cherchez la femme {Fr., find the woman) : 
a suggestion that a woman is at the 
bottom of every trouble. Phrase 
attributed to Gabriel de Sartine (1729- 
1801), Fr. Lieut.-Gen, of Police, 
[Dumas, Les Mohicans de Paris, 
III, 7 (1854) ; Richardson, Sir Charles 
Grandison, Letter 24 {1754)] 

Cherethi and Pelethi : the Parties in 
Israel that remained faithful to David 
when he fled before the revolt of his 
son, Absalom, 

Cherry Breeches: the nth Hussars, 
On account of the colour of their 

Cherry Fair, A : a symbol of the brevity 
of life and the ephemeral character of 
its pleasures. After the fairs, the 
occasion of boisterous enjoyment, 
held in cherry-orchards in Worcester- 
shire and elsewhere. 

Cherry Pickers, The : the nth Hussars, 
captured by the French in the 
Peninsular War while robbing an 

Cherry, To make two bites of a : to 
divide into two instalments a task 
which could easily be performed in one 
operation, [Bracciolini, Lo Schema 
degli Dei, IV, 30] 

Cherub, A : a beautiful child. The 
biblical name of a class of angels. 

Cherubims, The: the nth Hussars. A 
pun on their cherry-coloured trousers. 
{Cherubim is the plural of cherub ; the 
final s is redundant.) 

Cheshire Cat, To grin like a : a simile 
popularized by ' Lewis Carroll ' in 
Alice in Wonderland (1865). From 
the Cheshire cheese which was orig, 
moulded in the form of a cat. Other 
derivations are from (i) the unhappy 
results of a sign-painter's attempt to 
paint lions on some sign-boards ; (2) 
the result of a similar attempt to 
depict the arms of the Grosvenor 
family (of Cheshire), a wolf, [First 
used by Peter Pindar in i8th cent.] 

Cheshire Round, A : a rough dance. 

Chesterfield, A : a well-stufied sofa with 
two upright ends ; an overcoat with 


long skirts. After an Earl of Chester- 

Chestnut, A : (i) a kind of nut, from 
Kastana in Pontus ; (2) a hackneyed 
anecdote or joke, from a story of a 
chestnut-farm in America frequently 
told by the Amer. painter, E. A. 
Abbey (1852-1911). An alternative 
derivation is given in the following 
quotation from the Philadelphia Press : 
' There is a melodrama, but little 
known to the present generation, 
written by William Dillon and called 
The Broken Sword. There were two 
characters in it — one a Captain Xavier 
and the other, the comedy-part of 
Pablo. The captain is a sort of Baron 
Miinchausen, who, in telling of his 
exploits, says : "I entered the woods 
of CoUaway when suddenly from the 

thick boughs of a cork-tree " 

Pablo interrupts him with the words : 
" A chestnut, captain, a chestnut." 
" Bah ! " replies the captain ; "Booby, 
I say a cork-tree." " A chestnut," 
reiterates Pablo. " I should know as 
well as you, having heard you tell the 
tale these twenty-seven times." 
William Warren {1812-88) who had 
frequently played the part of Pablo, 
hearing a stale anecdote narrated at a 
dinner-party, interrupted with a quo- 
tation from the play, and the phrase 
" A chestnut " immediately became 

Chestnut Sunday : a Sunday in May, 
when the chestnut trees in Bushey 
Park, nr. Hampton Court, are in full 
bloom, and ' all London ' goes to see 

Chestnuts out of the fire. To pull the : to 
act as the tool of another. From the 
fable of the cat who used the monkey's 
hands for the purpose. 

Cheval de Bataille, A. {Fr., battle-horse) : 
a strong argument. 

Chevalier, A : a member oi an Order of 
Knighthood. Orig. a horseman, or 

Chevalier, The : see Chevalier de St. 

Chevalier of Fortune, A : a Chevalier 
d'Industrie (q.v.). 

Chevalier d'Industrie, A {Fr., knight of 
industry) : an adventurer ; one who 
lives by his wits. 

Chevalier de St. George, The : James 
Stuart, the Old Pretender (1688-1766). 

Chevalier sans Peur et sans Reproche, Le : 
Pierre du Terrail, Seigneur de Bayard 

83 [Children 

(1473-1524), a Fr. hero; so-called by 
his anonymous biographer, ' Loyal 

Chevalier, The Young : Charles Edward 
Stuart, the Young Pretender (1720-88). 

Chevaux de Frize {Fr., Friesland horses) : 
a row of spikes at right angles to the 
ground. An epithet contemptuously 
applied, in 17th cent., by the French to 
the Dutch, who had no cavalry. 

Cheveril conscience, A : an elastic 
conscience. From cheveril, a soft 
kid leather. [Burton, Anatomy of 
Melancholy, Pt. Ill, Sect, iv, Memb. 
ii. Sub-sect. 3 (1621) ; Shakespeare, 
Henry VIII, II, iii (1612-3)] 

Cheviot : a cloth made from the wool of 
the sheep bred on the Cheviot Hills. 

Chevy (Chivy), To : to chase. From 
Chevy Chace, an incident in the Battle 
of Otterbum (1388). Fr. chevauchie, 
a raid. 

Chev/ the cud. To : to cogitate over. 
From the action of chewing the cud by 
certain quadrupeds. [Shakespeare, As 
You Like It, IV, iii, 11. 101-2 (1600)] 

Chiahreresco : poetry which follows the 
Grk. model. After Gabriel Chiabrera 
(1552-1637), ' The Pindar of Italy.' 

Chic {Fr.) : stylish, attractive. Possibly 
from ' chicane,' tact, skill. 

Chichevache : a fabulous beast that 
devoured submissive wives. Old Fr., 
chicheface, ugly-face. 

Chicken, No : (of a person) not young. 
[Swift, Stella's Birthday (1720)] 

Chicken of St. Nicholas, The : the lady- 
bird, so-called by the Piedmontese. 

Chickens hefore they are hatched. To 
count one's : see Count one's chickens. 

Chicken-hearted : as timorous as a 
chicken. [Bunyan, Pilgrim's Progress, 
Pt. II (1684)] 

Chiffney-bit, A : a kind of horse's-bit 
invented by Samuel Chiffney (1753- 
1807), a jockey. 

Child away along with the bath. To throw 
the : to throw away the good with the 
bad, from a German saying. 

Child's-play, Mere : a very simple task, 
comparable to the play of children. 

Childermas Day : December 28th, the 
festival of the Holy Innocents in 
commemoration of the slaughter of the 
children by Herod. 

Childhood, Second : dotage ; the period 
of failing faculties in extreme old age. 

Children of the Mist : Scottish high- 
landers. In allusion to the mists 
prevalent in the north of Scotland. 


Children of the West, The: the 


Chiltem Hundreds, The : Burnham, 
Desborough, and Stoke, the steward- 
ship of which is a sinecure office, used 
as a means of withdrawal from 
membership of the House of Commons. 
The constitution of Parliament does 
not permit of resignation, but a 
member on accepting an office of profit 
under the Crown vacates his seat. 
Orig. the stewardship of the Chiltem 
Hundreds carried with it the responsi- 
bility of suppressing the robbers who 
infested the Chiltem Hills. 

Chimera, A : an imaginary goal ; an 
empty fancy. After a mythical 
monster, a combination of lion, goat, 
and dragon, described by Homer. 

Chimney Money : a tax on chimneys 
imposed during the reigns of Charles II 
and James II. 

Chimney-comer Legend, A : an idle tale, 
suitable to be narrated by the fireside 
in winter in order to while away the 

Chimney-pot hat, A : a tall black-silk 
hat. From its supposed resemblance 
to a chimney-pot. 

Chin-mosio : chatter. An Americanism. 

China : earthenware. Porcelain manu- 
facture was introduced into Europe 
from China. 

China to Peru, From : from one end of 
the earth to the other. [Johnson, 
Vanity of Human Wishes, 11. 1-2 
(1749) ; Voltaire, Lettres en Vers et en 
Prose (1755)] 

Cilina-town : any urban district in- 
habited mainly by Chinese. 

Chinee, The Heathen : see Heathen. 

Chinese Gordon : Gen. Chas. Geo. 
Gordon (1833-85), zilso known as 
Gordon of Khartoum. On account of 
his services to China in the suppression 
of the Taeping Rebellion in 1863. 

Chinese wall, A : an obstacle, very diffi- 
cult to overcome. After the great 
medieval wall which bounds the north 
of China proper. 

Chip of the old block, A : one who closely 
resembles his father generally, or in 
some specisd characteristic. Perhaps 
in allusion to the ' family tree.' 
[Dick of Devonshire {1626)] 

Chippendale : furniture made by or in 
the style of Thos. Chippendale (d. 1779). 

Chitty-faced (Fr. chicheface, thin face) : 
with thin, pinched face ; with a face 
like a baby's. 

84 [Chortle 

Chivan, To play the : to run away 

Chivy, To : to worry and pursue. From 
Cheviot, in which Border region there 
used to be frequent cattle-driving and 
consequent chases. See also Chevy. 

Chloe, A : a country-girl ; a shepherdess. 
After a character in the Grk. romance, 
Daphnis avd Chloe, by Longus. 
[Horace, Odes, I, 23 ; III, 26 ; Sidney, 
Arcadia (1590)] 

Chocolate soldier, A : a soldier whose 
uniform and status are of more conse- 
quence than the demands of warfare. 
After one of the characters in Bernard 
Shaw, Arms and the Man (1894). 

Choice Spirit, A : a young man of 
fashion, esp. one who carries the 
prevalent fashions to extremes. [Gold- 
smith, The Good-natured Man, III, ii 

Choke off. To : to check abruptly ; to 
prevent ; as if gripping a dog by the 
throat to compel him to relax his hold. 

Choke-pear : an obstruction, difficult or 
impossible to overcome. Lit., the 
name of an unpalatable pear. [G. 
Harvey, Letter Book, 8 (1573)] 

Choker, A : a neckerchief, esp. a large 

Choker, A White : a clergyinan. In 
allusion to the white tie which forms 
part of his uniform. 

Chop and change. To : to change. 
' Chop ' hcis been introduced for 
alliterative and strengthening pur- 
poses. [Ascham, Toxophilus, Bk. I 


Chop logic. To : to argue. [Heywood, 
Proverbes (1546)] 

Chops of the Channel, The : the entrance 
into the Eng. Channel from the 
Atlantic Ocean where the sea is esp. 
restless or ' choppy.' 

Chop-church, A : one who dealt in 
ecclesiastical patronage. 

Chop-fallen : chap-fallen ; dejected ; 
defeated in a contest. Lit., with the 
lower jaw hanging down. [Killigrew, 
The Parson's Wedding, V, iv {1663)] 

Chopine, A : {Span, ckapin), a shoe 
raised above the ground by exagger- 
ated heels and soles, in fashion in 
Spain and Italy at the beginning of 
17th cent. 

Chopped Hay : unsubstantial learning. 

Chortle, To : to express pleasure loudly ; 
to chuckle and laugh. A word in- 
vented by Lewis Carroll in " Through 
the Looking Glass (1872). 


Chorus, A : a body of singers singing in 
unison ; a portion of a song to be sung 
by the company generally ; in drama, 
the character that speaks the prologue 
and the epilogue of the play. Grk. 

Chose jug6e, A (Fr., judged cause) : a 
matter that has been decided and 
should therefore not be re-opened. 
Introduced into England at the time 
of the Dreyfus Affair (1894). 

Chosen People, The : the Jews. On 
account of the divine promises made to 

Chouans, The : the Royalist insurgents 
in Brittany during the period of the 
French Revolution. From chouan 
{chat huant, screech owl) , the nickname 
of one of the leaders, Jean Cottereau. 

Chouse, To : to cheat ; to trick. From a 
Turkish chiaous or interpreter, who 
perpetrated a notorious swindle in 
London in 1609. 

Chrisom child, A : a child of not more 
than a month. From the chrisom 
cloth it wears at baptism. 

Chriss-cross : see Criss-cross. 

Chriss-cross Row : see Criss-cross Row. 

Christ Church Bells : an old dance. 

Christian Cicero, The : Lactantius 
Firmianus (c. 260-340). After Cicero 
(106-43 B.C.) who was one of the 
greatest of the Roman orators. 

Christian, To forgive as a : not to 
forgive at all. [Scott, Ivanhoe, ch. 32 

Christian King, The most : a title of the 
kings of France, conferred by Pope 
Stephen III (714-68). 

Christian name, A : the personal name 
given at christening. 

Christian Seneca, The : Joseph Hall (1574- 
1656), Eng. satirist and Bishop of 
Norwich. After Lucius Annaeus 
Seneca (B.C. 3-65 A.D.), who was the 
most eminent of the Latin writers of 
the Silver Age. 

Christian Virgil, The : Marco Girolamo 
Vida (1490-1566). After Virgil (70-19 
B.C.), who was one of the greatest 
of the Latin poets. 

Christian Volume, The : see Volume. 

Christians, New : see New. 

Christmas box, A : a money present 
given at Christmastime ; orig. the 
earthenware box in which contribu- 
tions were collected by apprentices at 
Christmas time. 

Christmas King (Prince), A : a Christmas 
Lord {q.v.). 

85 [Churpatties 

Christmas Lord, A : the Lord of Misrule 
(^.t;.), at one time elected at Christmas 

Christy Minstrels : negro or imitation- 
negro minstrels. The troupe organ- 
ized by Edwin P. (18 15-1862) and 
George N. Christy (1827-1868) in 

Chronicle Small Beer, To : to busy one- 
self with naatters of little importance. 
Small beer is beer of inferior quality. 
[Shakespeare, Othello, II, i (?i6o4)] 

Chronique scandaleuse, A {Fr.) : a 
narrative of scandals. 

Chrononhotonthologos, A : a bombastic 
talker. After a character in Henry 
Carey's burlesque of that name 

Chronos, As old as : Chronos, in Grk. 

mythology, was the personification of 

Chuck, To teach a hen to : see Teach 
Chuckle-headed : stupid. From chuckle, 

big and clumsy. 
Chuff-headed : with a big, fat head ; 

stupid. [Nash, Pierce Penilesss (1592)] 
Chum, A : a close associate. Possibly 

an abbrev. of ' chamber-fellow.' 

Chump, To be off one's : to be out of 

one's mind. ' Chump,' a synonym for 

the head, is a block of wood. 
Chun^e, A la : of great size. After 

Chunfee, the largest elephant ever 

brought to England (1810.) 
Church ale, A : a joyful village gathering 

on a holiday. From the ale formerly 

brewed by churchwardens for such 

Church Invisible, The : those who are 

known only to God as his children. 
Church Parade, A : a fashionable 

promenade on Sunday mornings after 

Church Triumphant, The : Christians 

who have died and, having fought the 

fight, are now triumphant in heaven. 
Church Visible, The : the general body 

of Christians. 
Church's wet nurse. The : Queen Anne. 

On account of her endowment of 

' Queen Anne's Bounty,' so-called by 

Horace Walpole. [Letters, Vol. VII] 
Churchwarden, A : a long clay pipe. 

Formerly smoked by churchwardens 

at their business-meetings. 
Churchyard cough, A : a cough that 

suggests early death and consequent 

possible burial in a churchyard. 
Churpatties : small cakes circulated in 



India immediately before the outbreak 
of the Indian Mutiny and believed to 
have given the signal for the revolt. 

Cicero, A : an eminent statesman, 
philosopher and orator. After Marcus 
Tullius Cicero (106-43 B.C.). 

Cicero of France, The : Jean Baptiste 
Massillon (1663 -1742), Fr. preacher and 

Cicero of the British Senate, The : George 
Canning (1770- 182 7), Prime Minister 
of England. 

Cicero, The British : William Pitt, Earl 
of Chatham (1708-78), Prime Minister 
of England. 

Cicero, The Christian : Lucius Coelius 
Lactantius (260-340). 

Cicero, The German : Johann Sturm 
(1507-89), Germ, divine. 

Cicero of Oermany, The : John III, 
Elector of Brandenburg (1455-99). 

Cicero's Mouth : Philippe Pot (1428-94), 
Prime Minister to Louis XI ot 

Cicerone, A : a learned guide to objects 
of interest. From Cicero, the Roman 
orator (106-43 B.C.), in allusion to his 
learning and eloquence. 

Cid, The : the Spanish Champion of 
Christendom, Don Roderigo Dias de 
Bivar, El Campeador (1040-99). The 
title Cid is the Arab. Seid, lord and 
conqueror, as which he was acknow- 
ledged by five Moorish chieftains after 
one battle. 

Cid, The Portuguese : Nunez Alvarez 
Pereira (i 360-1431), general and 

Cider Country (Land), The : Hereford- 
shire and Worcestershire. On account 
of the number of their apple- 

Ci-devants (Fr., formerly) : the members 
of the titled classes after they had been 
deprived by the French Revolutionists 
of their titles. 

Cimmerian darkness : extreme darkness. 
In allusion to the Cimmerii, a fabulous 
people who dwelt in perpetual dark- 

Cinchona : quinine. After the Countess 
of Chincon, wife of a Viceroy of Peru, 
who was cured of a fever by the bark 
of the cinchona tree (c. 1640). 

Cincinnatus, The American : George 
Washington. After Lucius Quinctius 
Cincinnatus (519-438, B.C.), saviour of 
Rome, who was fetched from his 
labours in the fields to assume the 
supreme power. 


Cincinnatus of the West, The : William 
Henry Harrison, 9th President of the 
U.S. (1797-1801). 

Cinderella, A : (i) (of a girl) a despised 
and ignored, yet virtuous member of a 
company of equals ; after the heroine of 
the fairy-tale, who, although repressed 
and ill-treated by her two sisters, 
ultimately married the Prince; (2) a 
dancing-party which terminates at 
midnight ; from the fairy tale of 
Cinderella, who had to return home 
from the Prince's ball by midnight. 

Cinderella of the Arts, The : architec- 

Cinque Port, A : one of the five (Fr., 
cinque) ports : Hastings, Romney, 
Hythe, Dover and Sandwich, to which 
were afterwards added Winchelsea and 
Rye. Sussex and Kent ports en- 
dowed as early as the reign of Edward 
the Confessor with special privileges, 
in return for which they were called 
upon to take a leading part in naval 

Cinquecento, The : the i6th century in 
its art and literature. Italian 500 = 
the century commencing in the year 
1500. This was the period of Ariosto, 
Tasso, Raphael, Titian, Michael 
Angelo, Machiavelli, and other famous 

Circe, A : a dangerously fascinating 
woman. After the mythological Grk. 

Circe of the Revolution, The : Madame 
Roland (1754-93)- 

Circean : see Circe. 

Circumbendibus, A : a circumlocution. 
A word invented by Dryden (1681), 
from circum, around and ' bend,' with 
the ablative plural termination. 
[Dryden, The Spanish Friar, V, ii 

Circumlocution, A : a clumsy, involved 
manner of expressing oneself. [Barclay, 
Mirror of Good Manners (15 10)] 

Circumlocution Office, A : a Government 
Department or Office. Because its 
' red tape ' — i.e., the observance of 
innumerable formalities — causes ex- 
cessive and quite unnecessary delay. 
After the name of a Government De- 
partment in Dickens, Little Dorrit 

Circumquaque : a circumlocution (q.v.). 
Cisalpine Republic, The : a State formed 

by Napoleon in 1796 out of the 

conquered northern provinces of 



Cisley, A : a dairymaid [Tusser, A 
Hundreth Good Pointes of Hiisbandrie 


Cistern, A : a reservoir for water, etc. 
From cista, the basket in which were 
carried the sacred vessels at the 
Eleusinian Mysteries. 

Cit, A : a citizen or townsman (con- 
temptuously). [Cleveland, Rupeitis- 
mus (1644)] 

Cities, The Seven : Cairo, Jerusalem, 
Babylon, Athens, Rome, Constanti- 
nople, London (or Paris). 

Citizen King, The : Louis Philippe, King 
of the French, the first elected King 
of France. 

Citizen of Nature, A : one who feels him- 
self at home in all countries. 

Citizen of the World, A : a cosmopolitan ; 
one who regards — politically and 
morally — the whole civilized world as 
a unit. The phrase was apparently 
coined by Socrates (468-399 B.C.). 
It was also used as a nom-de-plume by 
Oliver Goldsmith (1728-74). 

City, In the : in business. ' The City ' 
indicates the City of London. 

City College, The : Newgate prison. 
Formerly situated in the City of 

City Company, A : one of the Corporation 
guilds of the City of London. 

City Editor, A : the financial editor of a 

City Father, A : one of the governing 
body of a city ; an alderman of the 
City of London. 

City Golgotha, The : old Temple Bar, on 
which the heads of traitors used to be 
exhibited. Hebr. Golgotha is ' the 
place of skulls.' 

City of Bells, The : Strassburg, in Alsace. 

City of Brotherly Love, The : Philadel- 
phia, which in Grk. means ' brotherly 

City of Churches, The : Brooklyn, New 
York. On account of the number of 
churches it contains. 

City of David, The : Jerusalem. \TlSam., 
V, 7. 9] 

City of Elms, The : New Haven, 
Connecticut. On account of the 
number of elm -trees in its streets. 

City of God, The : (i) Paradise ; (2) the 
Church, or the whole body of believers. 

City of Magnificent Distances, The : 
Washington. On account of its wide 
and long avenues. 

City of Masts, The : London. Owing to 
its great shipping industry. 

87 [Civis 

City of the Midnight Sun, The : London, 
in allusion to its night-pleasures. 

City of Monuments, The : Baltimore, 
U.S. On account of the number of 
monuments in it. 

City of Oaks, The : Raleigh, N. Carolina ; 
which has many oak-trees in it. 

City of Palaces, The : (i) Calcutta ; 
(2) Imperial Rome ; (3) Petrograd. 

City of Refuge, A : an ' alsatia ' or place- 
of-refuge for criminals as well as the 
innocent. From the cities set apart 
when the Holy Land was occupied by 
the Hebrews as places of refuge for 

City of Refuge, The : Medina in Arabia, 
in which Mahomet took refuge in the 
year 622. 

City of St. Michael, The : Dumfries, 
whose Patron Saint is St. Michael. 

City of Saints, The : Montreal, whose 
streets are named after saints. 

City of the Great King, The : Jerusalem. 
[Psalms, xlviii, 2 ; Matthew, v, 35] 

City of the Prophet, The : Medina, the 
burial-place of Mahomet. 

City of the Seven Hills, The : Rome, in 
allusion to the seven hills, the Aven- 
tine, Caelian, Capitoline, Esquiline, 
Palatine, Quirinal and Viminal, on 
which the city was originally built. 

City of the Sun, The : (i) Baalbec, the 
centre of the worship of the Sun-God ; 
(2) Rhodes, whose tutelar deity was 
the Sun; (3) Heliopolis in Egypt, 
on account of its Temple of the 

City of the Tribes, The : Galway, ' the 
residence of the thirteen tribes.' 

City of the Violated Treaty, The: 
Limerick. On account of the frequent 
breaches of the treaty of 1691. 

City of the Violet Crown, The : Athens ; 
the violet being the symbol of the 
city. [Aristophanes, etc.] 

City of Victory, The : Cairo. 

City, The : the City of London, esp. the 
business-districts of London. 

City, The Celestial : see Celestial. 

City, The Eternal : see Eternal. 

City, The Heavenly : Paradise. 

City, The Holy : see Holy City. 

Civis Romanus sum {Lat., I am a Roman 
citizen) : phrase used by Cicero 
(106-43 B.C.) in his sixth oration 
against Verres, an expression of the 
pride, courage and steadfastness of a 
citizen of Rome. The phrase was 
quoted by Lord Palmerston in the 
House of Commons on 25th June, 

Civvies] 88 

1850, in defending his action in the 
Pacifico cjise. 

Civvies, To be dressed in : to wear 
civilian costume. The phrase arose 
during the European War of 19 14- 18. 

Clack-dish, A : a wooden receptacle with 
a cover carried by beggars and used 
as a means of attracting the attention 
of the alms-giver. 

Claimant, The : Arthur Orton, an 
Australian butcher, who claimed to be 
the lost Sir Roger Tichboume ; con- 
victed of perjury in 1874. 

Clanjamfray, The whole : the mob ; the 
rabble. Scottish. 

Clan-na-Gael, The : an Irish secret 
political Society founded in 1881 to 
secure the separation of Ireland from 
Britain. Known also as ' The United 

Clap-bread : a thin oatmeal cake. Lit., 
bread clapped (patted thin). 

Clapham Sect, The : a sect of Evangelical 
Christians. From the district in 
London in which it centred in the late 
I 8th cent. 

Clapperclaw, To : to scratch with the 
open hand ; to abuse ; to beat. Lit., 
to claw with the clapper. Also ' caper- 
claw ' ((7.U.). [Shakespeare, Troilus 
and Cressida, V, iv (1606)] 

Clapper dudgeon, A : a beggar. From 
the clap-dish which beggars formerly 
carried. [Heywood, i King Edward IV 

Clap-shoulder, A : an officer of justice, 
who, when making an arrest, places his 
hand on the prospective prisoner's 

Clap-trap : cheap, insincere action or 
words intended to attract support. 

Clarence, A : a four-wheeled carriage. 
After the Duke of Clarence, afterwards 
William IV. 

Clarendon : a kind of printing-type. 
After the Clarendon Press, at Oxford, 
where it was introduced. 

Class, No : see No Class. 

Class, The Lower Middle : the lower 
division of the middle class of the 
population, consisting mainly of trades- 
people, clerks, etc. 

Class, The Upper Uiddle : the second class 
in society, consisting of the richer pro- 
fessional and mercantile classes. 

Classes, The : the upper or highest class 
in society. 

Classes and Masses, The : the people as a 
whole, vis., the Upper and Middle 
Classes and the mass of the people. 

[Clenchpoop J 

Phrase used by W. E. Gladstone 

{1809-98), and previously by Thos. 

Moore (1779-1852) in The Fudges in 

England (1835). 
Claw-back, A : a flatterer. Lit., one who 

claws (strokes down) another's back. 

[Latimer, Sermons (1549)] 
Claw-hammer coat, A : an evening-dress 

tail-coat. It resembles a claw- 
hammer, t.e., a hammer with a claw 

for extracting nails. 
Clay in the hands of the potter. As : easily 

influenced or moulded. [Jeremiah, 

xviii, 6] 
Clay, Human : human beings. In 

allusion to Genesis, ii, 7. 
Clay, A yard of : a churchwarden (pipe), 

Clean breast of. To make a : see Breast, 
Clean hands, To have : to be quite 

innocent in a certain matter. 
Clean life. To live a : to live a blameless, 

virtuous life. 
Clean pair of heels. To show a : to run 

away suddenly. 
Clean sheet, A : a clear record. 
Clean slate, With a : see Slate. 
Clear as crystal, As : [1300] 
Clear as the day. As : [Wager, Rep. of 

Mary Magd. (1566)] 
Clear as daylight, Ai : perfectly plain, 

[Starkey, England in the Reign of 

King Henry VlII, 130] 
Clear as noonday. As : absolutely plain, 

[Peter Pindar, An Academic Ode 


Clear out for Guam, To : not to be bound 
for anywhere in particular. In the 
rush to the Australian gold-fields ships 
were chartered to convey passengers 
outwards without having any definite 
cargo for the return journey. To seek 
this they used to sail from port to port. 
On leaving Melbourne, however, the 
captain had to state a destination, and 
for this purpose the name of Guam, a 
small island in the Ladrones, was 
usually given. 

Cleargrits, The : the Canadian advocates 
of annexation to the U.S, in the 
middle of 19th cent. 

Cleave the clouds. To : to act foolishly 
and to no purpose. From an ancient 
Grk. proverb. 

Clemency Canning : Charles John, Earl 
Canning (1812-62), Governor-General 
of India. On account of his alleged 
extreme clemency to the Indian rebels. 

Clenchpoop, A : a term of contempt ; 
orig, the designation of an artizan. 


[Rob. Wilson, Three Ladies of London, 

II. 1. 62 (1584)] 
Clerk of the Weather, The : an imaginary 

official supposed to control weather- 
Clich6, A : a hackneyed phrase or word. 

Fr., dicker, to stereotype. 
ClicQuot, King : Frederick William IV 

of Prussia. A name given to him in 

Climacteric, The Grand : the 63rd year, 

supposed to be a critical one in human 

life. Seven and nine were the 

Climacteric Numbers, which had a 

fatal influence, and over which Saturn, 

the malevolent planet, was said to 

preside. Hence the 63rd (7 x 9) was 

considered especially fatal. 
Climb the waves. To : to put out to sea. 

[Virgil, Mneid, Bk. I, 1. 381] 
Climb down. To ; to abandon an attitude 

or view that one has adopted. 
Clincher (Clencher), A : a conclusive 

argument. From ' clinch ' or ' clench,' 

to fasten securely. 
Clink, A : a small prison. The name of 

a once famous prison in Southwark. 
Clip the King's English, To : to speak 

corruptly. [Rich. Edwards, Damon 

and Pithias (1567)] 
Clip the wings of . . To : to reduce the 

power or efficiency of . . [Peter 

Pindar, Ode Upon Ode (1785)] 
Cloaca, A : a sewer. After the name of 

a sewer in ancient Rome. 
Cloak, A : a cover ; concealment ; 

disguise. [Lyly, Endimion, II, i 

Cloak for the rain, A : an excuse. 

[Rich. Tavemer, Proverbes of Erasmus 

Cloak and Sword plays : plays of modem 

life. The cloak and sword were part 

of the ordinary Spanish costume, 

when the phrase was invented. 
Cloak and Sword romances : romances 

of adventure. 
Cloak for every rain. To have a : to have 

an expedient for every requirement. 

[W. R., A Match at Midnight, III, i 


Clod-hopper, A : an agriculturist j an 
awkward man. One who walks over 
ploughed fields, or hops among the 
clods of earth. 

Clootie, Auld : the Devil. Scot., cloot, 
a cloven hoof. 

Close, To be : to be reserved. {Destruc- 
tion of Troy, 3939 (1400)] Later, to be 

89 [Coach 

Close trade, A : one that is confined to 

a few business firms that act in agree- 
Close-fisted : mean. Lit., with the hand 

tightly closed. [Lewis Machin, The 

Dumb Knight, V, i (1608)] 
Close-time : a period during which it is 

illegal to kill certain game. 
Closh, Mynheer : see Mynheer Closh. 
Cloth, The : the clergy. [Swift, Mrs. 

Harris's Petition (1710)] 
Cloth Breeches : members of the Lower 

or of the Middle Class. Formerly their 

distinctive dress. 
Cloth, To cut the coat according to one's : 

see Coat. 
Clothes for fishes. To make : see Make. 
Clothes while bathing. To steal : see 

Cloud, Under a : in trouble ; under 

suspicion. (1500 A.D.] 
Clouds, In the : vague ; obscure ; 

imaginary. L.a.t., in nubibus, [Selden, 

Laws of England (1649)] 
Clouds, To cleave the : see Cleave. 
Clouds, To drop from the : to appear 

suddenly and from an entirely un- 
expected quarter. 
Cloud-CU(^00-land : an idealistic scheme 

of reform. After Nephelokokuggia in 

Aristophanes, The Clouds. 
Cloven hoof (foot). To show the : to 

display an evil intention . In Christian 

art Satan is depicted with a cloven 

Clover, To be in : to be in a very com- 
fortable situation ; like a cow in a 

Club Land : that part of West London 

in which most of the principal clubs 

are located, i.e.. Pall Mall and St. 

James' Street. 
Club Law : government by force ; the 

law of the club, used to enforce 

Clumber, A : a species of spaniel. After 

the seat of the Duke of Newcastle in 

Cluster-fist, A : a mean, grasping person. 

[Cotgrave, Dictionary (161 1)] 
Clutch-fist, A : a niggard". [Cartwright, 

Ordinary (165 1)] 
Cly-fake, To : to pick pockets. Thieves' 

slang. From ' cly,' a pocket, ' fake,' 

to steal. 
Coach, A ; Coach, To : (a) a private 

tutor ; (b) to prepare for an examin- 
ation ; to train for a boat-race, etc. 

Orig. a pun on a means of progressing 



Coach, A slow : a dilatory person. 
Coach, Fifth wheel of the : see Fifth. 
Coach-and-four through . . To drive a : 

see Drive a coach. 
Coal to blow at, A cold : an impossible 

Coals of fire on the head of . . To heap : 

to put to shame by repaying evil with 
good. [Proverbs, xxv, 21-22] 

Coals, To blow hot : to rage fiercely. 

Coals, To blow the : see Blow. 

Coals, To carry (bear) : to perform an 
unpleasant task ; to submit to 
humiliation. From the duties of the 
lowest menials in the household. [Ben 
Jonson, Every Man Out of His 
Humour, V, iii (1600) ; Chapman, 
May Day (161 1)] 

Coals, To haul (call) over the : to repri- 
mand ; to blame. In allusion to the 
treatment of heretics. 

Coals to Newcastle, To carry (send) : to 
perform a work of supererogation. 
Newcastle-on-Tyne is one of the 
principal English coal-mining centres. 
[Fuller, Worthies : Northumberland 
(1661)]. The phrase may have origi- 
nated in ' as common as coales at 
Newcastle. [Heywood, // You Know 
Not Me (1606)] 

Coals, To stir : to stir up strife and 
trouble. [Geo. Cavendish, Life and 
Death of Wolsey (1557)] 

Coal-carrierly clown, A : a low, servile 

Coast to be clear. The : the road to be 
open and unimpeded. Orig. a military 
phrase, signifying that the coast of a 
country was clear of defending forces ; 
also a smugglers' phrase, denoting the 
absence of coastguards. [Thos. Lodge, 
Rosalind (1590)] 

Coat according to one's cloth, To cut 
one's : to adapt oneself to one's 
resources. A relic of the Sumptuary 
Laws. [Heywood, Proverbes, Pt. I, 
ch. viii (1546)] 

Coat, To baste (pay) a person's : to beat 
him. [Bunyan, Pilgrim's Progress, 
Pt. I (1678)] 

Coat, To be in a person's : to be in his 
place, esp. in time of trouble. 

Coat off a person's back. To take the : 
to press a debtor or other person in 
one's power unduly. 

Coat, To turn one's : to change one's 
principles and party. One who does 
this is called ' a turn-coat.' 

Coat, To wear the king's : to be a 

90 [Cock-a-hoop 

Cobalt : one of the metallic chemical 
elements. From Kobold, an imp of 
the Hartz Mountains. So-called by 
Paracelsus (1493-1541), on account of 
its elusive and impish quality. 

Cobbler : an Amer. drink. First con- 
cocted by a shoemaker. 

Cobbler Poet, The : Hans Sachs, of 
Nuremberg (1494-1574). 

Cobbler should stick to his last, A : see 
Stick to one's last. 

Cobbler's punch : a mixture of beer, 
spirit, sugar, and spice. See Cobbler. 

Cobdenite School, The : After Richard 
Cobden. See Manchester School. 

Goburg : an imitation merino fabric ; 
introduced shortly after the marriage 
of Queen Victoria with Prince Albert 
of Saxe-Coburg. There was no con- 
nection between the fabric and the 
Duchy of Coburg. 

Cobweb-learning : learning of little sub- 
stance. [Howell, Familiar Letters 

Cock, A. : (i) one who arouses; a 
watchman ; a minister of religion ; in 
allusion to the crowing of the domestic 
cock that arouses the sleeper ; (2) 
one who shows spirit; in allusion to 
a game-cock. 

Cock and Bull story, A : a fictitious, far- 
fetched narrative, usually without any 
foundation in fact. Probably from 
some old absurd story or a fable of a 
cock and a bull. Cf. Coq a I'Sne. 
[John Day, Law Trickes, IV (1608)] 

Coc^, To cry : to claim the victory ; to 
claim superiority. 

Cock and Hen Club, A : a club for men 
and women. 

Cock Lane Ghost, The : an imposture 
perpetrated in Cock Lane, Smithfield, 
London, in 1762, by a man named 
Parsons and his daughter. 

Cock of the game. The : the leader in a 
game, esp. at school. Orig. a fighting- 
cock. [Munday and Chettle, Death of 
Robert, Earl of Huntingdon, II, ii 

Cock of the school, The : the leader of 
the school in sports, etc. 

Cock of the walk. The : the leader of a 
circle or coterie ; the 'top dog.' From 
the farmyard, where one cock assumes 
the headship of the hen-run. 

Cock to crow. To teach a : see Teach. 

Cock, To live like a fighting- : see 
Fighting Cock. 

Cock-a-hoop : defiant, boastfuL Like a 
game-cock with his houpe or crest 


erect, or in allusion to the attitude of 
the triumphant cock perched on the 
hoop within which the fight is supposed 
to have taken place. [Heywood, 
Proverbes (1546) ; Shakespeare, Romeo 
and Juliet, I, v (1595)] 

Cock-a-leekie : soup made of a cock 
boiled with leeks. 

Cock-boat, A : a very small boat ; the 
small boat which is towed behind a ship. 

Cock-brained : silly ; foolish ; with no 
more brain than a cock. [Lomatius 
on Painting (1598)] 

Cock-fighting, To beat : to be most im- 
probable. In allusion to far-fetched 
stories told of cock-fighting. 

Cock-pit of Europe, The : Belgium. On 
account of the number of times it has 
been ravaged by the wars of other 

Cock-shy, A : an object at which sticks, 
etc., are thrown for prizes {e.g., cocoa- 
nuts on sticks) at country fairs, etc. 
From the old sport of throwing sticks 
at cocks. 

Cock-sparrow humour : amorous humour. 
[G. Wilkins, Miseries of Enforced 
Marriage, I, 11. 126-30 (1607)] 

Cock-sure : absolutely certain : see 
Cocky. Or perhaps derived from cock- 
fighting. [Nat. Woodes, Conflict of 
Conscience, III, iii (1581)] 

Cock-tail, A : (i) one who pretends to be 
a gentleman but is not one ; from cock- 
tailed horses (horses with their tails 
shortened), which as a rule are not 
thoroughbred ; (2) a drink, consisting 
of spirit, bitters, sugar, etc. ; from a 
Mexican favourite drink, Octel, after 
Xochitl, who first concocted it. 

Cock's canny hinnies. As rich as : these 
were the daughters and heiresses of 
Alderman Ralph Cock, of Newcastle. 

Cockade State, The : Maryland. On 
account of the cockades worn by the 
local regiment in the War of Inde- 

Cockaigne ; Cockayne : London. 
Cockaigne is the fabulous land of 
luxury and idleness. Not connected 
with ' cockney.' 

Cock-crow, At : at dawn. In allusion 
to the practice of cocks crowing as 
soon as light appears. 

Cocked hat. To knock into a : to thrash 
thoroughly. A ' cocked hat ' (slang) 
is anything that has been damaged 
out of recognition. Another derivation 
is from the game of bowls. One 
of the figures in this game is designated 

91 [Cocky 

' a cocked hat,' To secure this figure 
is sufficiently exceptional to form the 
basis for a proverb. 

Cocker, According to : accurate. After 
Edward Cocker, author of The Com- 
pleat Arithmetician (c. 1669), The 
phrase became common from the 
reference to Cocker and his arithmetic 
in Murphy's farce. The Apprentice 

Cockle-brained : eccentric ; whimsical. 

Cockles of the heart. To warm the : to 
give very great pleasure and satis- 
faction. Said to be an allusion to the 
resemblance in shape between a cockle- 
shell and the heart. An amusing 
derivation has been suggested, viz., 
the resemblance between kardia, the 
Grk. word for ' heart,' and cardium, 
the technical Lat. name for ' cockle.' 
Another suggested origin is from the 
Lat. word cochlea, ventricle, used by 
Rich. Lower, an Eng. anatomist, in 
his Tractatus de Corde (1669). For the 
term ' Cockles of his heart ' see 
Eachard, Observations (1671). 

Cockney, A : (i) a Londoner, one bom 
within sound of Bow Bells. Orig. a 
cock's egg, i.e., a small badly-shaped 
egg ; later, a countryman's nickname 
for a town-dandy ; in 1 7th cent, 
applied esp. to Londoners. Sir James 
Murray derives the modem use of 
cockney from the earlier sense of a 
pampered child, a milksop. At first 
applied to townsmen by countrymen, 
it later became attached to Londoners 
only. Yet another derivation connects 
the word with ' cock ' and relates it to 
the French phrase, Le pais de cocagne, 
the land of good cheer ; (2) a pet ; 
[Greene, Liberality and Prodigality, 
IV, i (1602)] (3) a member of the 
Cockney School (q.v.). 

Cockney Accent : intonation or twang 
peculiar to the lower classes of East 

Cockney School, The : a set of igth-cent. 
London writers consisting of Leigh 
Hunt, Shelley, Hazlitt, Keats, etc. 
So-called by Lockhart. 

Cockneys, The King of the : a Master of 
the Revels, chosen by the students of 
Lincoln's Inn on Childermas Day 
(Dec. 28th). 

Cockoloach, A : a mean fellow ; a 

Cocky : conceited ; formerly lecherous. 
Also (as a noun) a colloquial term of 


CocqcigTues, The : the future good time 

when all mysteries will be revealed. 

[Rabelais, Garganlua, 1, 49] 
Code Fr6d6ric, The : a codification of the 

law made by Frederick the Great 

Code Napoleon, The : the code of law 

introduced by Napoleon in 1803. 
Codlin's your friend, not Short : an 

attempt to secure confidence at the 

expense of a rival. After Codlin and 

Short in Dickens. Old Curiosity Shop, 

ch. xix (1840). 
Cod's head, A : a fool. The head of a 

codfish looks particularly silly. 
Coelebs' Wife, A : a model wife in the 

opinion of a bachelor. After a 

character in Hannah More, Coelebs in 

Search of a Wife (1809). 
Coeur de Lion {Fr., heart of a lion) : 

(i) Richard I of England ; (2) also 

Louis VIII of France. On account of 

their exceptional bravery. 
Coffee House Statesman (Politician), A : 

an amateur statesman. In allusion to 

the cofiee-houses in which they used 

to gather for political discussion. 
Coggeshall job, A : a stupidity. From 

the proverbial foolishness of the inhabi- 
tants of Coggeshall in Essex. 
Cognac : brandy distilled from grapes 

grown at Cognac, France. 
Cognoscente, A {Ital.) : one well versed 

in a subject, esp. one of the five arts. 
Coin money. To : to make money 

rapidly, as if one were actually coining 

Coin, To pay a person in his own : to 

treat a person in accordance with the 

treatment he himself meted out. 

[Plautus, Pseudolus, 1. 743 ; Tomkis, 

Albttrnazar, IV, ix (1615)] 
Colberteen ; Colbertine : a kind of lace. 

After Jean Baptiste Colbert (1619-83), 

Fr. statesman and superintendent of 

the royal lace-factories. 
Colchester, Weaver's beef of: see 

Cold as a Key, As : cold. [Gawin 

Douglas, Palace of Honour, 674 (1501)] 
Cold as a paddock. As : a paddock is a 

toad or frog, a cold-blooded rana. 
Cold as a stone. As : (1290). 
Cold blood. In : deliberately ; without 

excitement. [Wm. Brown, Elegie to 

the Memory of Sir Thomas Overbury 

Cold shoulder to . . To show (give) the ; 

To cold-shoulder: to be distant with . . ; 

to show a disinclination to friendship 

92 [Colosseum 

with.. [Scott, The Antiquary, ch. 
XXX (1816)] 

Cold feet, To have : to be lacking, 
generally temporarily, in courage. 

Cold steel : a bayonet ; a sword. 

Cold, To leave out in the : to neglect ; 
to ignore. 

Cold water upon . . To throw : to dis- 

Cold-blooded : unemotional ; heartless ; 

Cole (cold) prophet. To play : to pretend 
to tell fortunes. From ' cole,' a 
swindler. [Heywood, Proverbes (1546)] 

Colin Tampon : a Swiss. 

Coliseum : see Colosseum. 

Collar, To : to seize. Lit., to lay hold 
of by the collar. 

Collar of SS (Esses) : orig. the badge of 
the Lancastrians ; now worn by the 
Lord Chief Justice and other judges 
and officials. 

Collectanea {Lat.) : a collection of an 
author's writings. First applied to 
those of Caius Julius Solinus (fl. 230), 
Roman grammarian, historian, and 

CoUective bargaining : negotiations on 
the part of workingmen in a body, 
e.g., as a trade union, for improvements 
in pay or conditions of labour. 

Colleen, A (Irish) : a young girl. 

College, New : Newgate prison. 

Collop Monday : the day before Shrove 
Tuesday on which coUops (eggs fried 
on bacon) are eaten. 

Cologne, The Three Kings of: Caspar, 
Melchior, and Balthazar, the three 
Wise Men of the East, who visited the 
Infant Jesus, and according to tradition 
were buried at Cologne. 

Colonial System, The Old : the system 
adopted by Britain towards her 
colonies in the i8th cent, and earlier, 
whereby she obtained considerable 
economic advantages at their expense. 
This sj'stem led to the secession of the 
North American colonies. 

Colophon : the conclusion of a book, 
showing the date and place of publi- 
cation, printer's name, etc. After 
Colophon, in Asia Minor, a troop of 
whose cavalry was famous for giving 
the finishing stroke. 

Coloqnintida, As bitter as : coloquintida, 
or colocynth, the bitter-apple. 
[Shakespeare, Othello, I, iii (1604)] 

Colossal : immense, like a Colossus (q.v.). 

Colosseum ; Coliseum : a place of 
amusement of the ' variety ' descrip- 


tion ; a music-hall. The Colosseum at 
Rome was the theatre for the public 
games. It derived its name from the 
colossal statue of Nero in its neighbour- 

Colossus, A : an over-shadowing per- 
sonality. After the Colossus, a 
gigantic statue of Apollo, which 
bestrode the harbour at Rhodes, one 
of the Wonders of the World. 

Colossus of Independence, The : John 
Adams (i 735-1826), second President 
of the U.S. On account of his efforts 
for the independence of the colonies. 

Colour, A man of : a negro, or other 
dark-skinned person. 

Colour of . . Under : under pretence of . . 
[Sir Thos. Wyatt, The Louer Lamenteth 
His Estate (1557;] 

Colour to . . To give : to provide some 
sort of justification for . . {Paston 
Letters, No. 268 (1456)] 

Colour, To turn : (of a person) to turn 

Colours, To desert one's : to withdraw 
one's support. A military metaphor. 

Colours, False : a cover for dishonesty. 
A military metaphor referring to the 
flag or colours carried by a regiment. 

Colours, Flying : see Flying. 

Colours, To fear no : to fear no enemy. 
A military metaphor. [Shakespeare, 
Twelfth Night. I, v (1601)] 

Colours, To join the : to join the army, 
i.e., to range oneself under a military 

Colours, To paint in bright : to emphasize 
the pleasant aspects of . . 

Colours to the mast. To nail one's : to 
remain steadfast in one's determin- 
ation. A naval metaphor, referring 
to the flag or colours carried by a 

Colours, To see a thing in its true : to 
see clearly, despite attempts at 

Colours, To stick to one's : to adhere to 
one's principles . A military metaphor. 

Colours, To strike one's : to surrender, 
withdraw from a contest. A military 

Colours, True : honesty. 

Colours, To wear a person's : to attach 
oneself to a person. [Shakespeare, 
Love's Labour Lost (1588)]. 

Coloured Frontispiece by * Phiz,' A : a 
blush. A pun on ' phiz,' ' physi- 
ognomy,' and ' Phiz,' the sobriquet 
of Hablot K. Browne (1815-82), 
humorous artist. 

93 [Comitadji 

Colporteur, A : one who travels from 
village to village hawking books, esp. 
Bibles and small devotional books, etc. 
From col, neck, and porter, to carry. 

Colt Revolver, A : a fire-arm invented 
by Samuel Colt (1814-62). 

Columbia : America. After Columbus, 
the discoverer. 

Columbiad : a kind of heavy cannon, 
formerly used in the U.S. Army. After 
Columbia (q.v.). 

Columbus' egg. As simple as : in allusion 
to the anecdote related of Christopher 
Columbus and the egg. The task set 
was to cause an egg to balance on one 
of its ends. Several scientists applied 
their knowledge to solving the diffi- 
culty but without success . Columbu s, 
as soon as he learnt of the difficulty, 
indented one end slightly by cracking 
the shell, and immediately stood the 
egg upright. 

Comb, A crab-tree : a cudgel, intended 
for use on the head. ' Crab ' ifrom crab- 

Comb of Germany, The : the four fingers 
and the thumb. [Rabelais, Gargantua, 
I, 21] 

Comb the hair the wrong way. To : to 
annoy a person by opposing his preju- 
dices, opinions, etc. 

Come down, A : a humiliation ; a 

Come the old soldier over . . To : to 
deceive and cajole, esp. with a view to 
obtaining assistance. The phrase 
arose after the conclusion of the 
Napoleonic Wars from the public 
begging practised by disbanded soldiers 
and pretended soldiers. 

Come to the end of one's tether. To : see 

Comedy of character, A : ' not an exact 
drama, in which the actors deliver 
what is set down to them by the 
author ; but one in which, the plot 
having been previously fixed upon and 
a few striking scenes adjusted, the 
actors are expected to supply the 
dialogue extempore.' [Scott, St. 
Ronan's Well, ch. 20 (1824)]. 

Comedy of E3rrors, A : a series of amusing 
mistakes. After the play of that title 
by Shakespeare (1589). 

Comely as a cow in a cage. As : [Hey- 
wood, Proverbes (1546)] 

Comfort(s), Creature : see Creature-com- 

Comitadji, A (Serbian) : a member of a 
band of irregular soldiers or brigands 



in Macedonia, who, previous to the 
Balkan Wars, carried on a ceaiseless 
warfare of extermination against the 
races other than his own living in that 

Commandeer, To : to seize for military 
or other governmental use. From the 
South-African Dutch. Introduced at 
the time of the South African War of 

Commander of the Faithful : the Caliph. 
The title was first assumed by Omar 

Commander of the Swiss Fleet, A : an 
ironical title for a paid holder of a 
sinecure. Switzerland, of course, 
possesses no fleet. 

Commandment, The Eleventh : ' Thou 
shalt not be found out.' 

Commando, A : a body of South African 
burghers summoned to take up arms 
for the defence of their lands. This 
system of compulsory service was 
introduced by the English in 1806. 

Comme il faut {Fr., as it should be) : in 
accordance with custom, convention 
or etiquette. 

Commendation Ninepence, A : a bent 
ninepenny piece used as a love-token. 
Commendation, the act of commending. 

Commercial drama, A : a play written 
for no other purpose than to make 

Commodity of brownpaper, A : (i) goods 
purchased on credit by prodigals and 
swindlers to be turned immediately 
into ready money at a loss ; [Shakes- 
peare, Measure for Measure, IV, iii 
(1603)] (2) worthless goods sold 
either as a make-weight or a decep- 

Common cause with . • To make : to 
join one's fortunes with . . [Bacon, 
Essays : Of Seditions and Troubles 

Commoner, The Great : see Great. 

Common or garden : quite ordinary and 
plentiful, not rare, as the context would 
have led one to expect. Like ordinary 
garden flowers. The phrase passed 
about 1875 from the technical use in 
the field clubs and naturalists' other 
popular societies into general use. 
Common People, The : the people apart 
from those who enjoy titles or dignities. 
Commons, Good : good feeding. 
' Commons ' in the sense of provisions, 
orig. supplied to a number of people 
in common, as in a monastery or a 


Commons, Short : insufficient rations. 
see Commons, Good. 

Commonplace book, A : a book into 
which striking passages in literature, 
etc., are copied. ' Commonplace 
was a term used in old rhetoric to 
represent testimonies or pithy sen- 
tences of good authors which might be 
used for strengthening or adorning a 
discourse.' [Henry Morley, in a note 
to Sidney, Defence of Poesie] 

Commonwealth of Letters : see Republic 
of Letters. 

Commune, The : a socialist party in 
France during the period in 1871 in 
which the revolutionary socialists 
had control of Paris. From commune, 
a French municipal district, the inde- 
pendent unit for self-government, 
according to the theory of the Revo- 
lutionary Socialists. 

Company, To keep : to associate with, 
esp. in the case of lower-class lovers. 
[Wily Beguiled, 11. 1053-4 (1606)] 

Compass, To live : to return to one's 
starting-point ; to describe a circle. 
[Lyly, Euphues and His England 

Competition Wallah, A : a member of 
the Indian Civil Service appointed as 
a result of open competition. Urdu, 
wala is equivalent to the suf&x - er in 

Complete Seaman, The : Admiral Sir 
Richard Hawkins (1562-1622). So- 
called by himself. 

Compound householder, A : a house- 
holder whose rates are covered by his 
rent and are paid by his landlord. 
Act 14 and 15 Vict. (1851). 

Comtism : Positivism. After Auguste 
Comte (1798-1857), the French founder 
of this school of philosophy. 

Comus, A priest of: a cook. Comus 
was the god of revelry and feasting. 

Con amore {Ital., with love) : enthusi- 
astically. [Warburton's edn. of Pope, 

IV (1757)] 

Concert of Europe, The : agreement of 
the Great Powers of Europe in matters 
of common interest. 

Conclave, A : an assembly of Cardinals 
for the election of a Pope. Properly, 
a set of rooms opened by a common 
key (con clavis), the range of rooms to 
which the Cardinals repair when a 
Pope is to be elected. 

Conclusions with . • To try : to contest 
with . . Its former meaning was to 


Concordat : the agreement of 1801 
between Napoleon and the Pope for 
the restoration of the Roman Catholic 
Church in France. 

Condog, To : to concur. Suggested 
derivation : dog = cur. [Lyly, 
Galathea, III, 3 (1592)] 

Condominium, A {Lat., joint dominion) : 
a protectorate exercised jointly by 
two or more powers. [Burnet, 
History of His Own Times, III 


Condottiere, A : an Italian brigand. 
Orig. a soldier-of -fortune who fought 
in Italy in the wars of the 15th and 
1 6th cents. 

Confab, A : an intimate conversation. 
Contraction of confabulation. Lat., 
confabulatio. [Dialogue : Marphorio 
and Pasquin, 8 (1701)] 

Confederate States, The : South Carolina, 
Alabama, Florida, Mississippi, Georgia, 
Louisiana, Texas, Virginia, Arkansas, 
Tennessee, North Carolina. The eleven 
southern States that seceded from the 
N. American Union in i860. The 
secession led to the Amer. Civil War. 
The States were reincorporated in the 
Union on the conclusion of the war 
in 1865. 

Confidence man, A : one who practices 
the Confidence Trick {q.v.) ; a respect- 
ably-dressed swindler. 

Confidence Trick, The : a swindling 
trick which requires the confidence of 
the victim as a preliminary. Usually 
the deposit, as a token of good-faith, 
of money with which the holder runs 

Cong6 d'^lire {Fr., permission to elect) : 
the royal licence to elect a bishop. 

Congleton Bears : the inhabitants of 
Congleton, Cheshire. From the 
tradition that when the town-bear 
died, the money subscribed for a new 
church Bible was appropriated to 
purchase another bear. 

Congress : Parliament of the U.S., con- 
sisting of the Senate and House of 
Representatives . 

Conqueror, To have come in (over) with 
the : phrase applied to those who 
claim long English lineage. 

Conqueror's nose, A : a long straight 
nose with an elevated bridge ; such 
as those of Charlemagne, the Duke of 
Wellington, Bismarck. 

Conquistadores, The (Spav., the con- 
querors) : the Spanish conquerors of 
Mexico and Peru in the i6th cent. 



Conscience clause, A : a clause in an 
Act of Parliament that makes a con- 
cession to religious opinions. 

Conscience, Court of : see Court. 

Conscience money : money sent annoy- 
mously in payment of taxes of which 
the revenue had previously been 
defrauded by the sender. 

Conscript Fathers, The : the Senators of 
ancient Rome : Patres conscripH. 

Conservative Party, The : an English 
political party, formerly known as 
Tory. The name, which denotes the 
policy of conserving the institutions 
of the Country, came into use about 
1832 on the initiative, it is said, of 
J. W. Croker (1780- 185 7). The term 
had, however, been used by George 
Canning in a speech at Liverpool in 
March, 1820. 

Considering- (Thinking-) cap. To put on 
one's : to enter into deep consideration. 
[Rob. Arnim, A Nest of Ninnies (1608)] 

Consistory, A : (i) a business-meeting of 
Cardinals under the chairmanship of 
the Pope ; (2) an ecclesiastical Court. 

Consolation prize, A : a prize awarded 
as the result of a contest in which 
only those who have failed in the 
regular contests are qualified to take 

Consols : an English State debt, the 
interest on and principal of which are 
secured on the Consolidated Fund. 

Conspicuous by its absence : phrase 
popularized in England by Lord John 
Russell in his Address to the Electors 
of the City of London (April 6, 1859). 
The phrase was derived by him from 
Tacitus, Annales, Bk. Ill, ch. 76. The 
equivalent phrase had already become 
familiar in French, by its use by the 
Jansenists in allusion to the omission of 
all reference to Pascal and Amauld 
from Perrault's History of Illustrious 
Men (1696-1700). 

Conspiracy of silence, A : a tacit agree- 
ment between several people to ignore 
a subject. Introduced in 1885 in 
connection with the general avoidance 
by the press of the disclosures of the 
Pall Mall Gazette, known as ' The 
Maiden Tribute.' 

Constable, To outrun the : to run into 
debt ; to succeed the bounds of 
moderation. [T. Powell, Tom All 
Trades (1631)] 

Constitutional, A : a walk taken for the 
benefit of one's health, i.e., physical 


Consul Bibnias, A : one who holds 
office without power or influence. 
After Bibulus, who was joint-consul 
with Julius Caesar (59 B.C.). 

Contango, A : a Stock Exchange term : 
the rate of payment for permission to 
postpone the acceptance of stocks or 
shares purchased for one. An arti- 
iiciaj word, possibly a corruption of 
' continuation.' 

Contention, Bone of : see Bone. 

Conthoporian Spring, As cold as the : 
the Conthoporian Spring, near Corinth, 

. was said to freeze the gastric juices of 
those who drank of it. 

Contra bonos mores (Lat., contrary to 
good conduct). [R. North, Examen 
(c. 1733)] 

Contra bonnm publicum {Lat., against 
the public welfare). [Fielding, Voyage 
to Lisbon {1755)] 

Contre vent et mar6e {Fr., against wind 
and tide) : impetuously. [W. Roberts, 
Memoirs of Hannah More, I (1787)] 

Convention Parliament, A : a parliament 
assembled without the summons of the 

Conway's Cabal: see Cabal (American). 

Coo, To bill and : see Bill. 

Cook accounts. To : to concoct or manipu- 
late accounts, usually fraudulently. 
[17th cent.] 

Cook and bottlewasher, Head : see Head 

Cook the goose of . . To : to punish 
severely ; to over-reach. When Eric, 
King of Norway, arrived at a certain 
town, the inhabitants in derision hung 
a goose outside of the wall, inviting 
the king to shoot at it. Eric took the 
town within a few hours and burnt it, 
' to cook your goose for you.' To 
' cook one's own goose ' is to over- 
reach oneself. 

Cool (Cold) as a cucumber. As : perfectly 
calm. Cool is here used in the sense 
of calm. [Beaumont and Fletcher, 
Cupid's Revenge, I, i (1615)] 

Coolie, A : an Indian or East Asiatic 
indentured labourer, employed away 
from his native country. Hindu, 
kuli, labourer. 

Cooling card, A : that which damps one's 
hopes. Phrase borrowed from a card 
game. [Lyly, Euphnes : Anatomy of 
Wit (1579)] 

Coon, A : a fellow. Formerly a member 
of the American Whig Party, which 
used to have a racoon for an 

96 [Cordeliers 

Coon, A gone : one whose case is hope- 
less. See Coon. 

Coon's age, A : a long period of time. 
In allusion to the popular belief that 
the racoon lives to a great age. 

Coot, As bald as a : in allusion to the bald 
coot or fulica. [Heywood, Proverbes 

Coot, As stupid as a : the bird is 
proverbial for stupidity. 

Cophetua, A King : one who marries 
very much below his real station in 
life. After the legendary African 
potentate, famous for his wealth, who 
married a beggar-maid, according to 
a ballad in Percy, Reliques (1765). 

Copper, A : (i) a policeman, from 
either (a) to ' cop,' to catch, or (6) 
the copper badge appointed for New 
York policemen by Fernando Wood ; 
(2) any bronze coin, usually a penny. 

Copper : a metal. A corruption of 
Cyprus, an island in which in ancient 
times it was found in abundance. 

Copper Captain, A : one who masquerades 
as a captain. [Beaumont and Fletcher, 
Rule a Wife and Have a Wife (1624)] 

Copper-head, A : a pacifist of the North 
during the American Civil War. After 
the copperhead, an exceedingly 
venomous snake. 

Copper-nosed Harry ; Coppemose : 
Henry VIII. In allusion to the silver 
coinage of his reign, which was an alloy 
of silver and copper, the copper show- 
ing first through the nose of his profile. 

Copybook moraBty : formal, ' cheap,' 
morality. In allusion to the maxims 
given to school-children to copy as 
practice in caligraphy. 

Coq & I'ftne {Fr., cock on the ass) ; an 
impossible story ; a cock and bull 
story (q.v.). 

Coqueligrues, At the coming of the : 
never. [Rabelais, Pantagruel'] 

Coral master, A : a juggler. From the 
scarlet costumes of the ancient Spanish 

Corbie messenger, A : one who returns 
too late, or not at all. In allusion to 
the raven in Genesis, viii, 7. (Scot., 
corbie, a raven.) 

Cordelia's gift : a ' voice ever soft, 
gentle and low ; an excellent thing in 
woman.' [Shakespeare, King Lear, 
V, iii (1605-6). 

Cordeliers, The : a French revolutionary 
club (1790-94). It orig. met in the 
church of the Cordelier monk.^ in Paris. 
The Cordelier or Franciscan Observan- 


tist monks derived the name from the 
knotted rope girdle they wore. 
Fr., cor delay, to twist. 

Cordon Bleu, A : (i) the sash of the 
highest order of monarchical France, 
the St. Esprit ; (2) humorously 
applied to a chief cook or chef. 

Cordon Noir, Un : a knight of the French 
Order of St. Michael, distinguished by 
a black ribbon. 

Cordon Rouge, Un : a chevalier of the 
French monarchical Order of St. Louis. 
In allusion to the red ribbon by which 
the decoration was suspended. 

Cordon, Un Grand {Fr.,a. broad ribbon) : 
a member of the L6gion d'Honneur. 
the decoration of which is suspended 
by a broad ribbon. 

Cordovan : leather. Orig. made at 
Cordova, in Spain. 

Corduroy : a ribbed clothing-material. 
Fr., cords die roi, king's cord. From 
its use for the clothing of the Kings of 

Corduroy, Mere : the working classes. 
After the material out of which their 
clothing used to be made. 

Corduroy road, A : a road in marshy 
parts of N. America made with logs 
lying across it. From its resemblance 
to corduroy. 

Cordwainer, A : a bootmaker. From 
Cordovan leather, used for making 

Coriander seed : money. Because the 
shape of the seed roughly resembles 

Corinth, A : a brothel. After the City 
of Corinth, which in classical days was 
proverbial for its luxury and im- 

Corinthian, A : (i) roue ; a rake ; 
(2) (in America) a wealthy amateur who 
rides his own horses and navigates his 
own yacht. See Corinth. 

Corinthian brass: (i) shamelessness ; 
see Corinthian ; (2) a mixture of gold, 
silver and brass ; from the combination 
of these m.etals when Corinth was 
burnt by Mummius (146 B.C.). 

Corinthian, To act the : to live the life 
of a prostitute. 

Corinthianism : prostitution. See 

Cormorant, To be a : to be greedy. A 
reference to the voracity of the 
cormorant. [Joe Miller's Jests, No. 

^ 179 (1739)] 

Com in the blade. To eat one's : to 
practise extravagance, especially by 



spending one's income in advance. 
[Rabelais, Panlagruel, III, 2] 

Corn by one's own bushel. To measure 
other people's : to judge other people 
by one's own standard. [Simon Wag- 
staff (Jon. Swift), Polite Conversation, 
Dial. I (1738)] 

Corn Crackers : poor whites in the 
Southern States of N. America. In 
allusion to their consumption of com 
as a means of subsistence. 

Corn in Egypt : plentifulness. In 
allusion to Genesis, xlii, 2. 

Com Law Poet (Rhymer), The : Ebenezer 
Elliott (i 781-1849), author of Corn 
Law Rhymes (183 1). 

Com Laws : legislation imposing an 
import duty on corn. 

Corns, To tread on a person's : to offend 
against his susceptibilities. 

Corn-cracker State, The : Kentucky. On 
account of its corn-cracker birds. 

Cornelius and his tub : in allusion to one 
Cornelius and his cure for venereal 

Comer, A : a commercial operation 
whereby the price of a commodity is 
artificially raised by its concentration 
in the hands of one individual or 
corporation. To ' corner,' in the 
sense of to drive into a corner. 

Corner Boy, A : (in Ireland) an idler who 
spends his time at street-comers. 

Comer, To drive into a : to force into a 
position from which there is no escape. 

Corner, To turn the : to pass successfully 
through the crisis of an illness, a 
trouble, a danger, etc. 

Cornet of Horse, The Terrible : William 
Pitt, Earl of Chatham (1708-78). So- 
called by Sir Robert Walpole, who 
deprived him of his cornetcy in the 
Blues on account of his tireless criti- 
cism in Parliament. 

Cornish hug, The : an allusion to the 
fame of Cornishmen as wrestlers. 

Cornish Wonder, The : JohnOpie (1761- 
1807), the painter. 

Cornstalks : Australians of European 
descent. In allusion to their tall, lithe 
figures, like cornstalks. Orig. limited 
to the inhabitants of New South 

Cornuto, Dan : a cuckold ; Lat., 
corniitus, horned. [Chapman, All 
Fools, II, i (1605)] 

Corporal John : John Churchill, the 
great Duke of Marlborough (1650- 
1722). A name given to him by his 



Corporal oath, A : an oath strengthened 
by touching some sacred object, in 
particular the corporale or cloth which 
covered the consecrated elements, 
[Cervantes, Don Quixote. Pt. I, Bk. IV, 
ch. x] 

Corporat The Little : see Caporal, Le 

Corporal Violet : see Caporal Violet. 

Corpse Candle, A : a luminous appearance 
in damp places, e.g., cemeteries. 

Corpus Christi Day {Lat., body of 
Christ) : the Thursday after Trinity 
Sunday, a Roman CathoUc festival in 
honour of the body of Christ in the 

Corpus delicti (Lat., body of the ofience) : 
the aggregate of the various ingredients 
which make a given fact a breach of a 
given law. 

Corpus vile (Lat., a worthless body) : on 
which experiments may be made. 

Correggesque : in the style of Antonio 
da Correggio (1494-1534), Italian 

Correggio of Sculptors, The : Jean 
Goujon (1510-72). Correggio (1494- 
1534) was one of the most distinguished 
of the Italian painters of the Cinque- 

Corroboree, A : a dance of Australian 
natives. After the original native 
name for Port Jackson, N.S.W. 

Corruptio optimi pessima {Lat., the 
spoiling of the best is the worst) : the 
better a thing, the worse its abuse. 
[Purchas, Microcosmus, LXX (1619)] 
The phrase is traced back to Aristotle, 
Nicomachean Ethics, Bk. VIII, ch. x. 

Corsican Ogre, The : Napoleon I. After 
Corsica, his birthplace. 

Cortes, The : the Spanish or Portuguese 

Corv6e : forced and unpaid labour — in 
France until 1776, in Egypt until 

Corybantic Religion, The : the Salvation 
Army. So-called by Thomas Huxley 
(1825-1895), from a suggested resem- 
blance between its extravagances and 
the ravings of the Corybantes or 
devotees of Bacchus. 

Corycian Nymphs, The : the Muses. 
After the cave of Corycia, on Mount 

Corydon, A : a shepherd. After a 
character in the Idylls of Theocritos, 
the Eclogues of Virgil, etc. 

Coryphseus, A : the most active member 
of a committee, company, etc. After 


the title of the leader of the Greek 

Coryphseus of German Literature, The : 

Goethe (1749-1832). 
Coryphseus of Grammarians, The : 

Aristarchos of Samothrace (220-143 

Costermonger, A : a street-hawker of 

fruit, vegetables, etc. From coster, 

a kind of apple, and monger, a 

Cot-quean, A : (i) a low, vulgar woman ; 

lit., the housewife of a labourer's hut ; 

(2) a man who interferes in women's 

affairs. [Shakespeare, Romeo and 

Juliet, IV, iv (1591-3)] 
Cotswold barley. To be as long a-coming 

as : Cotswold, in Gloucestershire, is 

backward in its vegetation on account 

of its cold, bleak situation, but it 

produces an excellent late supply of 

Cotswold lion, A : a sheep. In allusion 

to the flocks of sheep which graze on 

the Cotswold Hills. [Thersites, 11. 122-5 

Cotton Lord, A : a prominent or wealthy 

cotton -m anu f actu rer . 
Cotton Plantation State, The : Alabama. 

Cotton is its staple industry. 
Cotton (up) to . . To : to become closely 

attached to . . ; to cling to (like cotton) . 

[Life and Death of Capt. Thomas 

Stukeley, 1. 290 (1605)] 
Cottonocracy, The : wealthy cotton- 
spinners, as a class. 
Cottonopolis : Manchester, the centre of 

the cotton-spinning industry. 
Couch-quail, To play : to cower ; to 

couch as a quail. [Thersites, U. 19-20 


Couleur-de-rose {Fr., rose-colour) : 
promising success ; favourable ; 
' rosy.' [J. Russell, Babees Book 
(c. 1447)] 

Coulisse, The : the ' unofficial ' stock 
Exchange in Paris ; the part of a 
theatre ' behind the scenes.' Properly, 
the groove in which the side-scenes of 
a theatre slide. 

Coulomb : the unit in measuring current 
electricity. After Charles Augustin de 
Coulomb (1736-1806), French experi- 
mental philosopher. 

Counsel of perfection, A : (i) one of the 
advisory declarations of Christ and 
the Apostles, the adoption of which 
assists towards the attainment of 
greater moral perfection ; (2) a 
recommendation of a course desirable 

Oonnt] 99 

but beyond attainment. {Matthew, 
xix, 2l] 

Count one's chickens before they are 
hatched, To : to assume success 
before it has been attained. [Butler, 
Hudibras, Pt. II, canto iii, 923 (1663)] 

Counter-caster, A : an arithmetician 
(contemptuously) . [Shakespeare, 

Othello, I, i (?i6o4)] 

Counter-jumper, A : a shop-assistant. 

Counties Palatine, The : orig. Chester. 
Lancaster, Durham, Kent, Shropshire, 
Pembroke, Hexham ; now the first 
three only. The privileges they en- 
joyed were granted in return for their 
defence of the frontiers of the kingdom . 

Count-out, To : (Parliamentary^ to lead 
to an adjournment of the House of 
Commons by calling attention to the 
absence of a quorum. 

Counterfeit crank, A : a pretended 

Country Cousin, A : an ingenuous person 
from the country without experience 
of the complexities, luxuries, etc., of 
town life. [Foote, The Lame Lover 

Country Joan, A : an awkward country- 

Country Party, The : the political party 
which advocated the claims of the 
country, i.e., agriculture, against those 
of the town — forerunner of the Tory 
and Conservative Parties. 

Country, To appeal (go) to the : to 
dissolve Parliament and thus necessi- 
tate a General Election. 

County Princess, A : a parvenu who 
apes the manners of the old county 

Coup d'essai, A (Fr., trial-blow) : a first 
attempt. [Spectator, 123 (1712)] 

Coup d'6tat, A {Fr., State-blow) : a 
sudden change of the system of govern- 
ment, esp. with the assistance of the 
Army, e.g.. Napoleon Ill's proclam- 
ation of himself as Emperor in 1851. 
[Howell, Leivis XIII (1646)] 

Coup de grace, A {Fr., stroke of grace) : 
a knock-out blow that ends a contest. 
From the fatal blow of the executioner 
that puts a victim who had been 
tortured out of his misery. [Peter 
Pindar, Bozzy andPiozzi, Pt. II (1796)] 

Coup de main, A {Fr., blow of the hand) : 
a sudden attack. Orig. a military 
phrase. {Annual Register (1758)] 

Coup de maitre, A {Fr., a masterstroke) : 
[Peter Pindar, Lyric Odes to the Royal 
Academicians for 1785, Ode VIII] 


Coup manquA, A {Fr., false stroke) : a 

Coup d'oeil, A {Fr., stroke of the eye) : 
a glance ; the scene as taken in at a 

Coup de pied de I'ftne, A {Fr., a kick by 
an ass) : a cowardly blow or insult. 

Coup de theatre, A {Fr., theatre-stroke) : 
an immediate theatrical success ; any 
sensational success. [Horace Wal- 
pole. Letters, II (1747)] 

Couples, To hunt in : of two persons, to 
be inseparable. [Thackeray, The 
Fatal Boots, ch. 6 (1839)] 

Courland weather : very rough weather. 
After Courland, a province of Russia. 

Court card, A : a corruption of coat card. 
The figures on the court cards are 

Court Holy Water : flattery and empty 
promises. Translation of a French 
proverbial expression, eau binite de la 
Cour. [Shakespeare, King Lear, III, 
ii (1605)] 

Court of Arches, The : the Court of 
Appeal of the Archbishop of Canter- 
bury, formerly held in the church of 
St. Mary-le-Bow, or St. Mary-of-the- 

Court of Conscience, A : a Court of 
decision in cases of small debts ; 
figuratively, conscience as a moral 

Court of the Gentiles, To be in the : not 
to be included in the select, but to be 
only approaching to them. The Court 
of the Gentiles was the outermost 
court of the Temple at Jerusalem, but 
the furthermost point to which non- 
Jews were admitted. 

Court, Out of : with no further say in the 
matter. Orig. referred to a plaintiff 
who has forfeited his claim to be 
heard in court. 

Court plaster : sticking-plaster for the 
protection of slight wounds. From the 
plaster with which ladies at Court 
used to decorate their faces. 

Court of Requests : a Court of decision in 
cases of small debts. 

Courtesy title, A : a title enjoyed by 
courtesy, to which one has no legal 
right. Generally the subordinate title 
of a peer borne by his eldest son during 
the father's lifetime. 
Cousin Betty : a semi-idiot. 
Cousin Jac^y (Jan) : a Comishman. On 
account of the common practice in 
Cornwall of addressing people as 
' Cousin.' 


Cousin Michael (Blichel) : a German. 
From Michael, the typical German 

CoAte que COftte (Fr., cost what it may 
cost) : at all costs. [Lord Boling- 
broke, Letters (1715)] 

Cove, A : a fellow ; a chap. [i6th 
cent. ; Dekker, Lanthorve and Candle- 
light, ch. 1 (1609)] 

Covenanter, A : one who had taken the 
Scotch National Covenant (1638), the 
Solemn League and Covenant {1643) or 
the Ulster Covenant (1912). See 
Solemn League and Covenant. 

Coventry Act, The : the Act of Parlia- 
ment (22-3, Chas. II, c. i) directed 
against maiming, passed as a 
consequence of the mutilation of 
Sir John Coventry by the King's 

Coventry blue : a species of embroidery. 
After a thread formerly manufactured 
at Coventry. 

Coventry blue, As true as : in allusion to 
the cloth and thread formerly made at 
Coventry and famous for the perman- 
ence of its colour. 

Coventry Mysteries, The : a series of 
mystery-plays performed at Coventry 
in i6th cent, and earlier. 

Coventry, To send a person to : to decline 
to speak to him. Possibly from an in- 
cident narrated in Clarendon's History, 
as having occurred at Birmingham, 
where certain supporters of King 
Charles were seized and sent to Coven- 
try then strongly held for the Parlia- 
ment. Another suggestion is that 
' Coventry ' is a corruption of quaran- 
tine. [Grose, Dictionary of the Vulgar 
Toiigire (1785)] 

Coverley, Sir Roger de, A : a typical 
Eng. country gentleman. After the 
nom-de-plume of the principal writer 
or writers in Addison and Steele's 
Spectator (171 1-2). 

Cow of Forfar did. To do as the : to take 
a long drink. The story runs as 
follows : A cow, passing a door in 
Forfar, drank the whole of a tub of ale 
that had been placed outside to cool. 
The owner of the ale sued the owner of 
the cow, but the decision was that as 
the ale was drunk at the door of the 
house it must be considered as a 
stirrup cup and no one could be so 
mean as to charge for that. [Scott, 
Waverley (1814)] 

Cow and give the horns for charity. To 
steal the : [Bruno, Cavdelaio, I, ii] 

o [Craokw 

Cow and the haystack. As much love as 
there is between the : (Simon Wagstatf 
(Jon. Swift), Polite Conversation, Dial. 

in (1738)] 

Cow, Three acres and a : see Acres. 

Cow of the wedding. To be the : to suiler 
for another's advantage or amusement. 
[Cervantes, Don Quixote, II, 69] 

Cow with an iron taU, A : a pump. 

Cow's taU, Like a : always behind. 

Cowboy, A : a Western-American cattle- 
man. Orig. a British marauder or 
irregular soldier active during the 
War of Independence. 

Cowper Justice : see Cupar. 

Coxcomb, A : a conceited person. On 
account of the cap, resembling the 
comb of a cock, formerly worn by a 
fool by profession. 

Coxeyites : workingmen intent on forcing 
concessions from their employers. 
After Coxey, who led a large body of 
workingmen to the Congress at 

Coze, To have a : to have a familiar 
conversation. Fr., causer, to talk. 

Crab, To catch a : see Catch. 

Crab-tree comb, A : see Comb. 

Crack : first-rate ; stylish. From 
' crack up ' {q.v.). So used by Arthur 
Young in Annals of Agriculture, XIX, 
95 (1793)- 

Crack a bottle. To : open a bottle and 
drink the contents. [Shakespeare, 
2 Henry IV, V, iii, 66 (1597-8)] 

Crack a crib. To : to commit a burglary. 
Thieves' slang. 

Crack of Doom, The : the Day of Doom 
or of Judgment at the end of the world, 
when all souls will be judged. [Shakes- 
peare, Macbeth, IV, i (1606)] 

Crack society : see Crack. 

Crack up. To : to praise highly. 

Crack-brained ; Cracked : silly ; semi- 
Crack-halter, A : a crack-rope (q.v.). 
[Josson, Schoole of Abuse (1579)] 

Crack-jawed : difficult to pronounce ; 
liable to crack the jaw. 

Crack-rope, A : one fit to be hanged, 
who ought to have the chance of 
cracking a rope. [Hennyson, in Tod's 
(o)ifession (c. 1450)] 
Cracked in the ring : worn out. In 
Elizabethan coins, the sovereign's 
head was enclosed in a ring. If a 
crack extended from the edge beyond 
this ring the coin ceased to be current. 
[Shakespeare, Hamlet, II, ii (1602-3)] 
Cracker State, The : Georgia. 

Cracksman] i 

Cracksman, A : a burglar. See Crack 

a crib. 
Cracowe, A : a shoe with a long-pointed 
toe. After Cracow, in Poland, where 
the style of shoe originated. 

Craddock (Cradock), As cnnning as : after 
John Cradock. vicar of Gainford (1594), 
High Commissioner for Durham, 
Justice of the Peace, etc., notorious 
for his corruption and other mis- 

Cradle of Liberty, The : Faneuil Hall, 
Boston, U.S., the meeting-place of the 
rebels during the Amer. Revolution. 

Crail's capon, A : see Capon. 

Crambo : rhyme ; rhyming. From the 
name of a game in which rhynies have 
to be found for a given line. 

Cramp-ring, A : a ring which is supposed 
to be a charm against cramp, epilepsy, 

Crampart's horse. Swifter than : King 
Crampart made a wooden horse which 
could travel a hundred miles an hour, 
according to the story of Reynard the 

Crank, A : one who holds views, or 
pursues a course almost peculiar to 
himself ; an eccentric person ; a 
faddist. In allusion to the crank of a 
barrel-organ which is continually 
grinding out the same tunes. The 
term is said to have been invented by 
Donn Piatt and applied by him to 
Horace Greeley (181 1-72), the Amer. 
journalist and politician. 

Crapeau, Jean (Johnny Crapaud), A : a 
popular name for a Frenchman. Lit., 
John Toad, probably, from the resem- 
blance of a portion of the design of the 
former French standard to a toad. 
Term introduced by British sailors 
during the Napoleonic Wars. 

Crape-man, A : a clergyman. From the 
material of which the dress of the 
clergy was made in i8th cent. 

Crassus, As rich as : After Marcus 
Licinius Crassus (105-53 B.C.), sur- 
named Dives (the Rich), Roman 
general and statesman. 

Cratur, A drop o' the : a drink of whis- 
key. An Irishism. Cratur, creature- 

Cravat, A : a neckcloth. From Fr., 
Cravates, the Croatians, from whose 
dress in the Austrian army the cravat 
was introduced into France in 1636. 

Cravat, To wear a hempen : to be 
hanged. In allusion to the hempen 

I [Cressid 

Craw-thumper, A : a derisive term 

applied to a Roman Catholic, one who 

beats his breast (at Confession). 

Crawley (Brook), As crooked as : alluding 

to the Crawley stream in Bedfordshire. 

Crazy bone, The : the funnybone. An 

Crazy quilt, A : a patchwork quilt made 
on no definite design. An Americanism. 
Cream City, The : Milwaukee ; from the 
colour of the bricks of which its 
houses are built. 
Creature-comfort (s) : material comforts, 
e.g., good food, clothing, housing, etc. 
[Scott, St. Ronan's Well. ch. 28 (1824)] 
Credat Judeeus (Apella) {, The Jew 
Apella may believe it) : of an 
incredible statement. The Jew Apella 
cannot be identified. [Horace, Satires, 
I, V, 100] 
Credo, A : a creed or expression of belief. 
' Credo ' is the first word in the Lat. 
version of the Apostles' (or Nicene) 
Creep up the sleeve of . . To : to wheedle ; 
to attempt to get into the good graces 
of .. 
Creke, To cry : to repent ; to capitulate. 
[Thos. Preston, King Cambyses (1561)] 
Crime de la cr§me {Fr., cream of creams): 

the choicest ; the very pick. 
Cremona, A : a violin made at Cremona, 

in Italy. 
Creole, A : a person of pure European 
descent bom in Spanish America, or 
of pure French descent born in 
Creole State, The : Louisiana. On 
account of its large Creole popula- 
Crescent, The : the Turkish Power. 
From the figure of the new moon in 
the Turkish flag. 
Crescent City, The : New Orleans. In 
allusion to its situation on the 
Mississippi River. 
Cresset ; Cresset-light, A : a beacon- 
light. From croisset, the cage or 
basket in which the fire in a raised 
light is held. [Rob. Wilson, Three 
Lords and Three Ladies of London, 
II. 1364-5 (1590)] 
Cressid ; Cressida, A : a faithless girl. 
After the mythical daughter of a 
Trojan priest of the period of the 
Trojan War. According to Homer 
her name was Briseis. The name 
Cressid was given to her in 12th cent, 
by Benoit de Ste. More, a French 

Cretan] 102 

Cretan, To lie like a : Cretan lying has 
beeiv proverbial from ancient days. 
Callimachos (fl. 260-240 B.C.), already 
referred to it. 

Crete, The hound of : a bloodhound. 

Cretonne : a kind of cotton fabric. 
After Creton, in Normandy. 

Crib, A : a translation of a foreign 
(usually a Classical) book, used to 
avoid the trouble of study. Probably 
from ' to crib,' to steal (thieves' 
slang) ; Saxon, crybb. 

Crib, To crack a : see Crack. 

Crichton, The Admirable : James 
Crichton (1560-83), Scottish scholar 
and adventurer, famous for his learning 
and his many accomplishments. 

Cricket, Not : not fair-play ; not the 
right thing to do. 

Crime, Worse than a : a blunder. The 
phrase, ' It is worse than a crime, it is 
a blunder,' has been attributed to 
Talleyrand (1754-1838) in allusion to 
the execution of the Due d'Enghien ; 
to Joseph Fouch6 (i 763-1 820), and to 
Boulay de la Meurthe (1761-1840). 

Crispin, A : a shoemaker. After St. 
Crispin, the patron Saint of shoe- 

Crispin's holiday, St. : Monday, a day 
on which shoemakers do no work. 

Criss-cross : (properly Christ-Cross), 
(i) the sign of a cross made as a substi- 
tute for a signature ; (2) the alphabet, 
from the formula formerly recited 
before the alphabet was repeated : 
' Christ's Cross me speed.' 

Criss-Cross row : the alphabet. From 
the cross formerly placed at the 
beginning of a horn-book containing 
the alphabet, or from the form of a 
cross in which the alphabet was some- 
times written. [Greene, Selimus, Pt. 
I, 11. 1900-3 (1594)] 

Criticism, The Higher : see Higher. 

Croakumshire : Northumberland. In 
allusion to the croaking manner in 
which the natives speak. 

Crodooile('s) tears : hypocritical tears. 
From the belief formerly held that 
crocodiles wept in order to attract 
their victims. [Sir John Maundeville, 
Voiage (1356)] 

Croesus, A : an extremely wealthy man. 
After Croesus, King of Lydia (d. 
546 B.C.), who was famous for his 

Croesus, A City : a wealthy merchant. 

Croesus, As rich as : see Croesus. 

Croggen, A : a Welshman. 


Crokers : potatoes. After Croker's 
Field, Youghal, Ireland, in which they 
were cultivated. 

Croker's mare, As coy as : as cautious as 
a mare that carries crockery. [Jno. 
Heywood, Proverbes (1546)] 

Crop-ear, A : a person or animal whose 
ears have been cut down. 

Cropper, To come a : to suffer a fall or a 
reverse. Possibly from ' to be turned 
out neck and crop ' ; more probably a 
metaphor dra\vn from the hunting- 

Croppies : (i) a nickname given to the 
Roundheads [q-v.) ; (2) an Irish 
Republican Party in 1798 whose 
members cut their hair short in imi- 
tation of the French Republicans. 

Grosbite, A : a swindler. From ' cross- 
bite,' to bite the biter, to cheat in 

Cross as a bear. As : in allusion to the 
sport of bear-baiting. {The Actors' 
Remonstrance (1643)] 

Cross as the Devil, As : very bad- 
tempered. [Vanbrugh and Cibber, 
The Provoked Husband, III, i (1728)] 

Cross, A Greek : a cross with four equal 

Cross, A Latin : a cross with the lower 
limb longer than the top. 

Cross, A Maltese : a cross with equal 
limbs indented so as to make eight 

Cross, On the : crookedly ; not honestly. 

Cross, A St. Andrew's : a cross with 
equal limbs like an " X." 

Cross and pile : (i) the obverse and 
reverse side of a coin ; (2) money ; 
(3) pitch and toss. Some of the old 
French coins are said to have had a 
cross on one side and a column or 
pile on the other. 

Cross as the tongs. As : a play on the 
word ' tongs.' 

Cross as two sticks. As : a pun on ' cross ' 
(ill-tempered) and ' cross ' (placed 
across) . 

Cross, To bear one's : to suffer trouble 
patiently. Cf. Matthew, x, 38 ; xvi, 
24. [Dekker and Webster, Sir 
Thomas Wyat, sc. 14 (1607)] 

Cross, To take the : to enter on a 
crusade or other unselfish course of 

Cross-bench mind, A : a mental constitu- 
tion naturally independent and im- 
partial, that sees and weighs both 
sides of a question. From the cross- 
benches in several Parliamentary 



buildings on which the independent 
members definitely committed to no 
Party sit. 

Cross-bones : bones of the arm and leg 
crossed. Together with a skull, the 
device of pirates. 

Cross-grained : ill-tempered and argu- 
mentative. Lit., of wood with an 
irregular grain and consequently a 
cause of difficulty in working. 

Cross-patch ; Cross-piece, A : an ill- 
tempered person, esp. a woman. 

Cross-purposes, To be (play) at : to mis- 
understand one another mutually. 
[Vanbrugh, The Provoked Wife, IV, 
vi (1697)] 

Cross-sticks, Miss (Mrs.) : a cross or bad- 
tempered woman. [Fielding, The 
Miser, I, i (1733)] 

Crossed in love. To be : to have a 
successful rival in an affair of the 

Crotchets in the head. To have : to 
hold curious but not very important 
views opposed to those of the majority ; 
to give expression to eccentric 
opinions. [Shakespeare, Merry Wives 
of Windsor, I, i (1600)] 

Crouchmas Day : May 3rd, the festival 
of the finding of the Cross. 

Crow, To eat : to recant ; to humiliate 
oneself. Two derivations have been 
offered for the phrase. According to 
the one, an American crossed the 
Canadian boundary and shot a crow. 
The man on whose land he was tres- 
passing caught him and forced him to 
eat his quarry. According to the 
second story a Federal soldier, in the 
course of the Civil War, shot a tame 
crow belonging to a planter and was 
forced by the latter to eat a portion of 
it. The soldier, when he obtained the 
opportunity, in retaliation compelled 
the planter to eat the remainder of the 
dish. Crow is, of course, a most 
unpalatable food. 

Crow, A white : see White crow. 

Crow flies, As the : in a straight line ; 
the shortest distance between two 
points. [Bunyan, Pilgrim's Progress, 
Pt. II (1684)] 
Crow over . . To : to exult in success 
over . . From the crovdng of a cock 
after a victory in a fight. Orig., ' to 
Crow, To pluck (puU) (pick), A : to have 
a quarrel. Orig. the phrase meant to 
concern oneself in a matter of little im- 
portance, a crow being considered of no 


value. [Towneley, Plays, II : The 
Killing of Abel, II. 308-11 (1450)] 
Crow, To teach a cock to : see Teach. 
Crow, To wash the : see Wash. 
Crow with . • To pluck (pull) A : to settle 
an unpleasant matter with . . Possibly 
in allusion to the longevity of crows 
and their corresponding toughness. 
Crows'-feet : small wrinkles at the 
comers of the eyes. On account of 
their supposed resemblance to the feet 
of crows. [Chaucer, Troylus, II, 354] 
(14th cent.) 
Crowbar Brigade, The : the Royal Irish 
Constabulary. In allusion to the 
crow-bars used by them in effecting 
evictions at times of agrarian unrest. 
Crowder, As cunning as : see Cunning. 
Crown of the East, The : Antioch in 

Crown Office, To have been in the : to be 
drunk. A pun on ' crown ' as the 
equivalent of head. 
Crown of Thorns, A : grief or pain 
patiently borne. After the crown of 
thorns worn by Christ at the Cruci- 
Crowner's Quest : a vulgar corruption of 
Coroner's Inquest. [Shakespeare, 
Hamlet, V, i (1602)] 
Crowning mercy, A : the description 
given by Oliver Cromwell to his 
victory over the Royalists at Worcester 
(Sept. 3, 165 1). 
Crumbs, To gather up the : to improve in 
health and appearance. [Lyly, 
Euphues and His England (1580)] 
Crusoe, A : a solitary person. After the 
hero of Defoe, Robinson Crusoe (17 19). 
Crusty : short-tempered ; peevish. From 
cross, ill-tempered. [Thos. Preston, 
King Cambyses, 1. 389 (1561)] 
Cry off. To : to withdraw from an under- 
taking or projected undertaking. 
Cry, A far : a long distance. ' Cry ' in 
the sense of the distance which a cry 
Cry and little wool. Much ; more excite- 
ment than result ; ' much ado about 
nothing.' From the mystery-play of 
David and Abigail, in which the Devil 
is depicted shearing a pig in imitation 
of Nabal shearing a sheep. The re- 
mark is attributed to the Devil. 
Cry out before one is hurt. To : to protest 
prematurely. [Rabelais, Gargantua, I, 
47 ; Montluc, La ComSdie de Proverbes, 

Cry, Out of: beyond measure, [Wily 
Beguiled, 11. 1641-2 (1606)] 


Cry over spilt milk. To : to grieve use- 
lessly, i.e., when it is impossible to 
remedy the harm. 
Cry stinking fish, To : to depreciate 
one's own goods or interests. [Jeremy 
Taylor, Ductor Dubitantiuni, 805 
Cry-baby, A : a term of contempt for 
a big child who is moved to tears over 
a trivial matter. 
Crying evil (shame) (sin), A : an evil 
(cause of shame) (sin) so obvious that 
it may be said to cry out. [Burton, 
Anatomy of Melancholy, Pt. I, Sect, i 
Cub, A half-licked (unlicked) : an ill- 
mannered lout, like a bear-cub 
insufficiently licked by its dam. [Con- 
greve. Old Bachelor. IV, 8 (1693)] 
Cube, A faultless : an almost perfect 
man. [Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics, 
I, ii. Sect. II.] 
Cu(Mng-stool, A : a chair in which 
olfenders, esp. women, were formerly 
fastened and dipped as a punish- 
Cuckoo storm, A : a spring wind that 
brings the cuckoo earlier than usual. 
Cucumber-time : the dull season of 
the year. From the Germ, phrase, 
die sanre Gurken-Zeit, the pickled 
Cuddy, A : (i) a bribe or gift ; formerly 
rent paid to a landlord ; still earlier, 
entertainment due by a tenant to his 
lord ; Irish, cuid oidhche, evening 
portion ; (2) a fool, a gipsy term ; 
Hindu, ghiidda, an a^s. 
Cudgel one's brains. To : to make mental 
exertions. [Shakespeare, Hamlet, V, i, 
63 (1602)] 
Cudgels, To take up the : to take the 
part of in a contest or dispute. 
[J as. Puckle, The Club (1711)] 
Cuerpo, In {Span., in the body) : naked ; 
without a cloak, so as to display the 
form of the body. [R. Cock, Diary, I 
Cui bono P {Lat., to whose advantage ?) : 
quoted by Cicero in the Second 
Philippic, 14, 35, and elsewhere as a 
saying by Lucius Cassius in trying a 
man for murder. 
Culturkampf : see Kulturkampf. 
Cum grano salis {Lat., with a grain of 
salt) : making allowance for over- 
-statement ; with reserve. 
Cunctator, A {Lat., one who delays) : 
after the title given to Quintus Fabius 
Maximus (275-203 B.C.), who defeated 



Hannibal by avoiding a -general 
Gunning as Crowder, As : after Samuel 
Crowder, a carrier in North-West 
England, who displayed great in- 
genuity. An alternative derivation 
is from ' cunning,' skilful, and 
' crowder,' fiddler. J 

Cup that cheers but not inebriates, The : I 
tea. [Cowper, 1 he Task: i he Wiuter 
Evening, IV, 34 (1784)] 
Cup, To drink the : to bear whatever 
sorrows befall one. [Matthew, xx, 22] 
Cup of life to the bottom. To drink the : 
to participate in all the experiences of 
Cup and lip. Between : on the point of 
achievement. From the proverb, 
' There is many a slip 'twixt the cup 
and the lip.' [Aulus Gellius, XIII, 18] 
Cup to run over : blessings to overflow. 

[Psalm xxiii, 5-6] 
Cups, In one's : intoxicated. [Thos. 
Preston, King Cambyses, 11. Q16-8 
Cupar Justice ; Jedburgh Justice : lynch 
Law. From a practice formerly in 
force in Coupar-Angus. 
Cupboard love : love dependent on the 
prospect of advantage. [Herrick, 
Poor Robin (1661)] 
Cupid, A : a beautiful boy. From the 
pictorial representations of the God 
of Love. 
Cupid's golden arrow : virtuous love. 
Cupid's leaden arrow : sensual love. 
Cupids in the eyes. To look for : to look 
closely into one's lover's eyes so as to 
see oneself reflected there. Cf. Babies 
in the eyes. [Drayton, Polyolbion, II 
Cura^oa : a liqueur. Orig. made in the 

island of Curafoa. 
Curfew (-bell), A : an evening bell. 
Orig. a public signal to extinguish 
lights. From couvrir, to cover, and 
fen, fire. 
Curled darlings : (i) well-dressed idle 
young men in general; [Shakespeare, 
Othello, I, ii (1604)] (2) military officers, 
a term applied to them during their 
period of popularity after the close of 
the Crimean War. 
Curmudgeon, A : a miser ; a surly bad- 
tempered man. Possibly from coeur 
mechant, evil heart. 
Currant, A : (i) a small dried grape. 
From raisins de Courauntz, grapes of 
Corinth, Greece, whence they are 


Currant (2) ; curranto, A : a liar. After 
the currants or newspapers (' currant 
newes') of 17th cent. They were 
notorious for their general un- 

Curranto, As true as a : false. [Donald 
Lupton, London and the Country 
Carbonadoed (1632)] See Currant (2). 

Currente calamo {Lat., with a running 
pen) : on the spur of the raoment ; 
without premeditation. [Horace Wal- 
pole, Letters, \T (1776)] 

Curse, Not worth a : either from the 
name of the wild cherry, or perhaps 
derived from Anglo-Sax. cerse, 
watercress. [Langland, Piers Plow- 
man (1362)] 

Curse of Scotland, The : the Nine of 
Diamonds. Possibly from the 
armorial bearings of Dalrymple, Earl 
of Stair — nine lozenges on a saltire — 
who was much hated and was term.ed 
' The Judas of the Country.' Other 
derivations are : (i) a similar resem- 
blance to the armorial bearings of Col. 
Packer who commanded the forces in 
Scotland during the time of the 
Commonwealth ; (2) the playing-card 
on which the Duke of Cumberland 
gave instructions on the night before 
the Battle of Culloden (1746) to his 
generals to give no quarter ; (3) the 
importance of the card in the game of 
Comet, introduced into Scotland by 
James II of England shortly before his 
accession it proved the ruin of many 
Scottish families ; (4) the designation 
of the card in the game of Pope Joan 
as ' The Pope ' ; (5) nine tyrannical 
kings of Scotland, diamonds being 
emblematical of royalty. The term is 
also said to be an equivalent of the 
Cross of Scotland, the nine pips on the 
card orig. forming a St. Andrew's 

Curtail (Cut-tail) dog, A : orig. the dog of 
a person not authorized to hunt ; 
later, a dog not used for sport. These 
dogs had their tails cut short, partly to 
identify them, and partly because a 
tail was thought to interfere with 
their running. 

Curtain-lecture, A : a string of matri- 
monial censure and criticism delivered 
nightly by a nagging wife to her 
husband in bed, i.e., within the 
curtains, when he wants to go to sleep. 
The term was popularized by Douglas 
Jerrold, Mrs. Caudle's Curtain Lectures, 
which first appeared as a serial in 

105 [Cut 

Punch. The term forms the title of a 
little book by T.H. (? Thos. Heywood) 
published in 1637. 

Curtain-raiser, A : a short preliminary 
theatrical piece that precedes the 
main play. Fr., lever-de-rideau . 

Cushion, To miss (hit) the : to fail 
(succeed) in an undertaking. Meta- 
phor drawn from archery. [Heywood, 
Proverbes (1546)] 

Cushion, To set beside the : to ignore ; 
pass over with contempt. [Heywood, 
Proverbes (1546)] 

Cuss, A : (1) a curse; (2) a somewhat 
despised person. 

Cuss, Not worth a : see Curse. 

Customer, An ugly : one whose character 
gives justifiable cause for expectation 
of harm or difficulty. 

Custos Rotulorum : Keeper of the 
Records of an English county, an 
office now practically merged in that 
of Lord Lieutenant. 

Cut the cackle and come to the 'osses. To : 
to cut a long story short and come 
direct to the principal matter. Phrase 
attributed to Philip Astley (1742- 
18 1 4), the circus-proprietor, when 
criticising an equestrian show which 
was being exhibited before him. 

Cut a comb. To : to suppress a conceited 
person. A farmyard metaphor. [G. 
Harvey, Pierce's Supererog. (1593)] 

Cut a dash. To : to swagger ; to dress so 
as to attract attention. [Foote, Maid 
of Bath, I (1771)] 

Cut a person's claws. To : to deprive a 
person of his opportunities for mischief. 
[Peter Pindar, The Rights of Kings, 
Ode I (1791)] 

Cut above . . A : a rank above . . 

Cut acquaintance. To : without apparent 
reason to ignore a person previously 
known. [S. Rowley, Noble Souldier, 

n, i (1634)] 

Cut and come again. To : to have at one's 
disposal an unfailing supply. Orig. of 
a joint of meat from which one can 
cut a helping and then return for a 
further portion. [Swift, Polite Con- 
versation, Dial, ii (1738)] 

Cut and run. To : to make off in a hurry. 
Properly, to cut the cable without 
waiting to weigh anchor. 

Cut blocks with a razor. To : to ruin a 
valuable instrument where a cheaper 
one would serve better. 

Cut both ways. To : of an argument, 
action, etc., that tells for and against 
one ; harms as well as benefits. 

Cat] io6 

[Peter Pindar, Farewell Odes, Ode iv 

Cut no ice, To : to carry no weight ; to 
have no influence. 

Cut of one's jib, The : one's personal 
appearance. A nautical metaphor. 

Cut off one's nose to spite one's face. To : 
to do oneself a considerable injury for 
the sake of gaining a minor end. 

Cut off with a shilling. To : to disinherit. 
Under Roman law a man was com- 
pelled to bequeath a portion of his 
estate to his natural heir ; to leave him 
a shilling or a similar trivial amount is 
practically to disinherit him. 

Cut one's eye-teeth. To : see Cut one's 

Cut one's coat according to one's cloth. 
To : see Coat. 

Cut one's sticks, To : to depart ; escape. 
In reference apparently to the cutting 
of a staff preparatory to a journey. 

Cut one's wisdom- (eye-) teeth. To : to 
arrive at the years of discretion. 

Cut out. To : to supersede or supplant 
a rival. 

Cut out for. To be : to be specially 
fitted for. 

Cut the ground from under a person's 
feet. To : to destroy the basis of a 
person's argument, project, etc. 

Cut the knot. To : to solve a serious 
diflficulty. See Gordian Knot. 

Cut the painter, To : see Painter. 

Cut up rough. To : to show ill-temper or 

Cut-and-dry (-dried) : completely ready 
for attention. A metaphor from the 

Cut-purse, A : a pickpocket ; a thief. 
Lit., one who steals by cutting purses, 
which used to be worn at the girdle. 

Cut-throat competition : fierce compe- 
tition that is reckless of consequences. 

Cutlers' poetry : doggerel verse. From 
the lines formerly engraved on knife- 
blades. [Shakespeare, Merchant of 
Venice, V, i (1596)] 

Cutler's Law : never to let another want 
so long as one has means of alleviating 
his distress. The practice of cut- 
purses and other criminals. 

Cutty stool, A : the stool of repentance ; 
formerly in Scotland, the seat in church 
on which offenders sat while they were 
publicly rebuked by the pastor. 

Cycle of Cathay, A : see Cathay. 

Cycle of the moon, A : a period of 19 
years, after which the date of the moon 


Cycle of the sun, A : a period of 28 years. 

Cyclic Poets, The : epic poets subsequent 
to Homer who wrote of the Trojan 
War, keeping within the circle of a 
single subject. 

Cyclopean : gigantic ; fierce. After the 
Cyclops, a mythological race of 
Sicilian giants. 

Cymerian darkness : see Cimmerian. 

Cynic ; cjmical : sneering ; suspicious of 
good. The Cynics were a school of 
Grk. philosophers who, holding virtue 
and knowledge as the sum of good- 
ness, were contemptuous of all else. 
From Grk, kudn, a dog ; on account of 
their morose tenets. 

Csmosure : a centre of attraction. From 
the name of the constellation of the 
Lesser Bear, to which the eyes of 
mariners are often directed. 

Cynthia's lamp : the moon. After 
Cynthia, one of the names of Diana, 
the goddess of the Moon, who was 
born on Mount Cynthus, in Delos. 

Cyprian, A : a harlot. From Cyprus, 
once a centre of the worship of Venus. 
Also used as an adjective. 

Cyprian Goddess, The : Venus ; see 

Csrprian Trade, The : prostitution ; see 

Cyrano, A : a large nose. After Edmond 
Rostand's Cyrano de Bergerac. 

Czar : the title borne by the Emperor of 
Russia and the Kings of Bulgaria. 
From Caesar. First assumed in Russia 
by Ivan III (1472). 

Czar Liberator, The : Alexander II of 
Russia, who liberated the serfs in 

D.T. : delirium tremens. 

Da capo (Ital., from the beginning) : to 

repeat precisely. A musical term. 
Dab at . . To be a : to be thoroughly 

expert at . . A corruption of ' adept.' 

[Peter Pindar, Lyric Odes to the Royal 

Academicians for 1783, Ode VIII] 
Daddy Long-legs, A : a popular name 

for the crane-fly. From its long legs. 
Deedal ; deedalian : ingenious, intricate. 

After Daedalus, of Crete, a mythical 

craftsman, the personification of all 

handicrafts and of art. 
Dsedale earth : earth variously adorned. 

[Spenser, Faerie Queene, Bk. IV, canto 

X, St. 45 (1596)] 
Daft days. The : the days of merriment 

at Christmas. 



Dagger ale : ale. After ' The Dagger,' 
a celebrated lyth-cent. tavern in 
Hoi bom, London. 

Daggers drawn. At : in a state of 
declared hostility. 

Daggers at . . To look : to look at with 
an aspect of hostility. 

Dago, A : an American or sailor's name 
for a Spanish, Portuguese or Italian 
immigrant or seaman. From Span., 
Diego, James, a common name among 

Dagon, A : an idol. After the god of 
the Philistines. 

Daguerrotype, A : an early method of 
photography ; a photograph so taken. 
After Louis J. M. Daguerrfe (1789- 
1851), the French inventor. 

Daily Telegraphese : a ' cheap ' exagger- 
ated ' journalese,' a literary style 
similar to that at one time used by 
regular writers in the (London) Daily 

Daimio, A : a Japanese feudal noble. 
From Chinese dai myo, great name. 

Daisy-cutter, A : (i) a horse that, when 
in motion, raises its feet but slightly 
from the ground ; (2) a cricket-ball 
bowled along the ground instead of 
being cast upwards. 

Dalmatica, A : a robe worn on occasions 
by priests, and formerly by kings. 
After Dalmatia, whence it was intro- 
duced into Rome by the Emperor 
Commodus (d. 169). 

Daltonism : colour-blindness. After John 
Dalton (1766- 1 844), Eng. chemist, who 
suffered from this infirmity. 

Damascene, To : to inlay metal with 
gold or silver ; to variegate the 
appearance of steel blades. After 
Damascus, where such work was 

Damasco, A : a sword of exceptional 
temper. Formerly manufactured at 

Damascus of the North, The : Bosna- 
Serai. On account of its numerous 
trees and gardens, for which Damascus 
is famous. 

Damask : linen woven in raised figures ; 
formerly silk similarly woven. After 
Damascus, where the fabrics were 

Damask rose : a variety of rose native 
to Damascus. 

Damask steel : see Damascene. 

Dame Earth : see Mother Earth. 

Dame Partington's broom : see 


Darner, As rich as : John Darner, of 
Antrim, migrated to Tipperary, where 
he attained wealth, in the reign of 
George I. 

Damiens' Bed of Steel : an instrument of 
torture to which Robert Fran5ois 
Damiens was bound after his attempt 
on the life of Louis XV in 1757. 
[Goldsmith, The Traveller, 436 (1764)] 

Dammarel, A : (Fr., Damaret) an 
effeminate man, fond of the company 
of the fair sex. 

Dammy ; Dammy Boy, A : an unruly 
person. In allusion to the habit of 
the excessive use of the word ' damn ' 
and general swearing by the man-about 
town of 1 6th and 17th cents. 

Damn for . . Not to care a (twopenny) : 
to have not the smallest fear of or 
concern for . . From dam, a small 
Hindu coin worth less than a farthing. 
Orig. an Anglo-Indian phrase. A 'two- 
penny ' damn arose from a folk- 
etymological association of the word 
with ' damn,' condemn. 

Damn with faint praise. To : to praise so 
slightly, or in such an equivocal 
manner, that the unexpressed criticism 
condemns. [Pope, Epistle to Arbuth- 
not (1735)] 

Damnosa hereditas (Lat.) : inheritance 
that brings loss instead of gain. 

Damocles' sword, A : a threatening 
danger. Damocles (4th cent. B.C.) 
was a courtier of Dionysius of Syracuse, 
over whose head at a royal feast a 
sword was hung by a thread. 

Damon and Pythias : two inseparable 
friends. They flourished at the Court 
of Dionysius of Syracuse in 4th cent. 
B.C. Their devotion to one another 
is proverbial. 

Damson, A : a small variety of plum. 
After Damascus, whence it was 

Dan to Beersheba, From : from one ex- 
treme limit of a country, etc., to the 
other ; the biblical formula for the 
limits of the Holy Land (Dan in the 
north, Beersheba in the south). 
{Judges, XX, i] 

Dan Comuto, A : see Comuto. 

Danai, A gift of the : a Greek gift {q.v.). 

Danaid's work : futile and long drawn 
out work. From the punishment of 
the Danaides, daughters of Danaus, 
King of Argos, of eternally pouring 
water into sieves. 

Dance attendance on . . To : to attend 
obsequiously on . . ; to be at the 

Danoe] io8 

beck and call of . . In allusion to the 
early practice of the bride being ex- 
pected to dance with every guest who 
might ask her. [Paston Letters, No. 

754 (1475)] 
Dance of Death. The : a representation of 
Death leading people of all classes to 
the grave. 

Dance (of) Macabre : see Dance of Death. 
Macabre is a form of St. Macarius, an 
Egyptian anchorite who appears in 
13th cent, legend with which the 
representation of the Dance of Death 
became connected. 

Dance on a volcano. To : to enjoy oneself 
with dire misfortune impending. 
Phrase used by the Comte de Salvandy 
(1796- 1 856) at a fete given by the 
Duke of Orleans to the King of Naples 
in 1830. 

Dance the Tybum jig. To : to be hanged. 
Tyburn was a former place of execu- 
tion in London. 

Dance to another tune. To : to suddenly 
change one's action. 

Dance to another's piping. To : to have 
to act in accordance with another's 
demands. In allusion to the music 
of mythology which compelled all 
hearers to dance. [Heywood, Proverbes 

Dance, To lead a person a (pretty) : to 
give him a bad time, to cause him 
much unnecessary trouble. [Paston 
Letters, No. 1006 (15th cent.)] 

Dance, To open (lead) (begin) the : to 

Dance, To teach an old woman to : see 

Dance to the tune of . . To : to follow 
submissively the directions given or 
the wishes expressed or unexpressed. 
[Sir Thos. Overbury, Characters : 
A Timist (1616)] 

Dance upon nothing. To : to be hanged 
(one's feet being in the air). 

Dancing Chancellor, The : Sir Christo- 
pher Hatton (1540-91), Lord Chan- 
cellor of England, who first attracted 
the attention of Queen Elizabeth by 
his dancing. 

Dancing Days : youth. [Shakespeare. 
Romeo and Juliet, I, v, 11. 32-3 (1592)] 

Dander up. To get one's : to become 
angry. Probably from ' dander' in 
the sense of ferment ; or possibly 
from ' dandruff ' as the equivalent of 
hair or fur of an animal. 

Dandie Dinmont, A : a species of terrier. 
After a character in Sir W. Scott's 


Guy Mannering (18 15), the owmer of 
two dogs of this species. 

Dandies, The Prince of the : Beau 
Brummell (1778-1840), a famous 

Dandin, a George : one who marries 
above his station. After a character 
in a comedy of that title by Moli^re 

Dandiprat, A : see Dandyprat. j 

Dando, A : a glutton, esp. one who cheats. I 
After a personage of that description * 
named Dando. 

Dandy, A : a fop. Introduced from the 
Scottish Border (c. 1800). In use in 
the form Jack-a-dandy a century and a 
half earlier. Possibly a corruption of 
Andrew ; or from Dandin, George (q.v.). 

Dandy-horse, A : an early form of 
bicycle, on which the rider propelled 
himself by treading the ground with 
alternate feet. 

Dandy King, The : Joachim Murat, 
king of Naples. 

Dandy-prat, A : a dwarf. Possibly from 
the name of a small coin minted in the 
reign of Henry VII. 

Dane's skin : freckled skin. From the 
tradition that freckles denote remote 
Danish origin. 

Daniel come to Judgment, A : an upright, 
just judge, impervious to all influence. 
From the description of Portia, given 
by Shylock, when he thought that she 
was deciding in his favour. [Shakes- 
peare, Merchant of Venice, IV, i, 1. 223 


Danites, The : an Order in the Mormon 
Church, committed to support the 
leaders in all circumstances. 

Dantesque : sombre and sublime. In 
allusion to the style of Dante's Inferno. 

Daphne, A : a beautiful young girl un- 
spoilt by society or fashion. After a 
nymph in Grk. mythology. 

Daphnis, A : a young shepherd. After a 
Grk. mythological shepherd. Familiar- 
ised by a Grk. pastoral romance of 
4th or 5th cent., Daphnis and Chloe ; 
by innumerable other romances ; by 
Beaumont and Fletcher, The Faithful 
Shepherdess (1609), etc. 

Darbies : handcuffs. After a notorious 
usurer of the i6th cent. [Gascoigne, 
Steel Glass, I, 787 (1576)] 

Darby and Joan, A : a couple devoted to 
one another after many years of 
married life. After a ballad by Henry 
WoodfaJl, published in 7 he Gentleman's 
Magazine. Vol. V. 153 (1735). 


Darby's bands : strict bonds by which a 
debtor bound hinaself. Possibly after 
the usurer : see Darbies. [Marriage 
of Wit and Science, IV, i (1570)] 

Darbyiste, A : a member of the sect 
of Plymouth Brethren. After John 
Nelson Darby (1800-82), their first 

Dare-devil, A : a reckless person ; one 
ready to dare the Devil. 

Dares, A : a pugilist. After the Trojan 
pugilist in Virgil, Mneid, V. 

Dark, To be in the : to be without know- 
ledge in some particular matter. 

Dark Ages, The : the Middle Ages. On 
account of the intellectual darkness of 
that period. More narrowly (c. 814- 
c. 987). 

Dark and Bloody Ground, The : the 
State of Kentucky, of whose name the 
term is said to be a translation of 
one of the Indian dialects. It is, how- 
ever, more probably derived from the 
bloody warfare with the Indians of 
which the State was in early days the 

Dark Continent, The : Africa. On 
account of the unknown character of 
the continent until recent years. [Sir 
H. M. Stanley, Through the Dark 
Continent (1878)] 

Dark as Erebus, As : see Erebus. 

Dark, To keep : to keep secret. 

Dark, To keep • . in the : to conceal from . . 

Dark, A leap in the : see Leap. 

Dark horse, A : a competitor of whose 
character or capabilities nothing is 
known by the public ; one who 
suddenly appears at the last moment 
without any previous warning, i.e., has 
previously been kept in the dark. 
Orig. a racing term, applied to an 
unknown horse in a horse-race. 

Darkness visible : extreme darkness. 
Phrase coined by Milton in Paradise 
Lost, Bk. I, 1. 62 (1667^ 

Darling of the Graces, The : (i) Aris- 
tophanes (444-380 B.C.), so-called by 
Goethe, in his introduction to The 
Birds ; (2) Heine (1789- 1856), German 

Dash, To cut a : see Cut. 

Dash-buckler, A : a swaggerer. Related 
to swashbuckler. See Cut a dash. 

Date, Up to : not behind the times ; 
wide-awake and fully acquainted with. 
Orig. a book-keeping phrase. 

Daughter of Eve : a woman. [Shakes- 
peare, Merry Wives of Windsor, IV, 
ii, 11. 23-5 (1600)] 



Daughter of the horse-Ieeoh, A : one who 

is perpetually putting forward 

demands. [Proverbs, xxx, 15] 
Daughter of Peneus, The : the bay-tree, 

which flourishes best on the banks of 

the River Peneus. 
Daughter of the Sphere, The : the echo. 

[Milton, At a Solemn Musick, 1. 2 

Dauphin, The : the eldest son of the 

King of France. After the Dauphin6, 

a Fr. province. The name of the 

province was derived from the dolphin 

which the Seigneur, Guy VIII, Count 

of Vienne, wore as his cognizance. 
David, A : a youthful hero. After the 

King of Israel. 
David and Jonathan : two devoted 

friends. After the friendship of David 

and Jonathan (II Samuel, i, 26)] 
David's sow. As dirunk as : see Drunk. 
Davy-Jones : the controlling genius of 

the ocean. Possibly a corruption of 

' dufify,' a West-Indian negro's ghost, 

and ' Jonah,' the prophet. 
Davy-Jones' locker : the sea as the final 

resting-place of the drowned. See 

Davy Jones. 
Davy Jones' natural children : smugglers ; 

pirates. See Davy Jones. 
Davy putting on coppers for parsons : 

indications of a coming storm at sea. 

See Davy Jones. 
Davy-lamp, A : a lamp which may be 

used with safety in a coal-mine. After 

the inventor. Sir Humphrey Davy 

Davy's dust : gunpowder. After Davy 

Jones, the sailors' Devil {q.v.). 
Davy's sow : see Drunk as David's sow. 
Daw, To play the : to behave as a fool. 

From the popular belief that the 

daw is an exceptionally foolish bird. 
Dawcock, A : an empty, chattering 

fellow. Properly, a male-daw. See 

Daw, To play the. 
Dawk : travel by relays ; relays of men, 

horses or palanquins for travelling 

dawk. An Anglo-Indian term. 
Day after the fair, A : too late. [Hey- 

wood, Proverbs, Pt. I, ch. viii (1546)] 
Day after to-morrow. The : never, on the 

principle that to-morrow never comes. 
Day of Doom, The : see Doomsday. 
Day of Judgment, The : the last day of 

the life of the world, when all men 

will be judged. 
Day of Wrath, The : the last day of the 

world, on which the Divine Wrath 

will be kindled against the wicked. 


Day, To carry the : to win in a contest. 

Day, To have had one's : to have been 
successful, powerful, wealthy, etc., 
in the past, but to be no longer so. 
From the proverb : ' Every dog has 
his day.' 

Days of one. To make two : to delay. 

Days to be numbered. One's : to be 
within a short distance of one's death. 

Day's work. To be all in a : to be treated 
as a part of the ordinary routine. 
[Swift, Polite Conversations, Dial. I 

Day-dream, A : a reverie, esp. a pleasant 

Daylight, To bum : to waste time. 
[Shakespeare, Merry Wives of Windsor, 
II, i, 1. 54 (1600)] 

Daylight (through . .) To see : to foresee 
the successful end of an arduous task 
or undertaking. Metaphor drawn 
from the passage through a long tunnel. 

De die in diem (Lat.) : from day to day. 

De facto {Lat., by the fact) : in reality. 
[Bacon, Essays : Of Great Place (1625)] 

De Jure {Lat., by law) : [Bradford, 
Writings (1550)] 

De novo {Lat., from a new [start]) : anew, 
afresh. [In Engl, about 1630] 

De profundis : an expression of deep 
sorrow. The first two words of 
Psalm cxxx : ' Out of the depths.' 

De proprio motu {Lat., of one's own 
motion) : of one's own initiative ; 

De trop {Fr., too many) : in the way. 
[Lord Chesterfield, Letters, II (1752)] 

Dead against. To be : to be directly 
opposed to. 

Dead as Chelsea, As : not necessarily 
dead, but permanently incapacitated. 
The allusion is to Chelsea Hospital, the 
hostel for superannuated soldiers. The 
phrase is said to have originated with a 
grenadier at the Battle of Fontenoy, 
who applied it to himself when his leg 
was carried away by a cannon-ball. 

Dead as a door-nail. As : absolutely-Klead, 
as if one had been knocked on the 
head as is a door-nail or knob. [Will. 
Palerme, 628 (1350) ; Langland, Piers 
Plowman, A, I, 161 (14th cent.)] 

Dead as Queen Anne, a!s : see Queen Anne. 

Dead, To ask counsel of the : to refer to 
books. [Diogenes Laertius, VII, i, 3 ; 
Bacon, Essays : Of Counsell (1625)] 

Dead cert (certainty), A : that which is 
certain to occur. Possibly corrupted 
from ' as certain as death.' A meta- 
phor from the race-course. 

no [Dead 

Dead Fire : St. Elmos' Fire, super- 
stitiously believed to foretell death. 

Dead Hand : control by laws, regulations, 
etc., made in the past by those now 
dead. Translation of Fr., mort main. 

Dead Hand of the Church, The : perpetual 
tenure of property by the Church, as 
distinguished from tenure by an 

Dead head, A : a person admitted to a 
public entertainment without pay- 
ment. Said to have been derived from 
a toll-gate leading to a cemetery in 
Delaware. A physician on paying the 
toll once remarked that, in view of his 
profession, he ought to be permitted to 
pass free. The reply he received was : 
' We can't afiord that. You send too 
many deadheads through here as it is.' 

Dead heat, A : a race or other competi- 
tion in which two or more competitors 
are exactly equal, resulting in a ' tie.' 
A ' heat ' is that part of a race that is 
run without stopping ; a ' dead heat ' 
is therefore a futile heat having no 

Dead as a herring. As : either from the 
belief that herrings die on leaving the 
water more quickly than most other 
fish, or because to the masses the 
herring is known only as a dead fish. 
[T. Nabbes, Tottenham Court (1638)] 

Dead horse : work for which payment is 
made before it is completed. [Cart- 
wright, Siedge (1651)] 

Dead horse. To flog a : to exert oneself 
to no purpose. 

Dead horse. To work on the : see Horse. 

Dead language, A : a language no 
longer spoken. 

Dead letter, A : (i) a post-letter which is 
undeliverable through an undecipher- 
able address, etc. ; (2) a law that has, 
without being repealed, become obso- 
lete. The Dead Letter Office is a 
former name of the Returned Letter 
Department of the (London) General 
Post Ofiice, where ' dead ' letters are 
dealt with. 

Dead lift. To be at a : to be in a consider- 
able difi&culty. [G. Wilkins, Miseries 
of Enforced Marriage, IV, 11. 574-5 

Dead as a log. As : motionless. [Benj. 
Franklin, Poor Richard's Almanac for 
1733: April] 

Dead men's shoes. To wait for : to live 
in expectation of a legacy or other 
advantage from a man's death. 
[Heywood, Proverbes (1546)] 

Dead] m 

(Dead) nuts on . . To be : to be devoted 

to .. 

Dead of night, The : at the stillest hour 

of the night ; at midnight. [Hall, 

Chronicle (1548)] 
Dead pay : pay dishonestly drawn by 

officers after the death of the soldiers 

to whom it relates. [Dekker and 

Webster, Northward Ho, I, ii (1607)] 
Dead reckoning, A : an estimate of a 

ship's position by calculations indepen- 
dent of astronomical observations. 
Dead Sea fruit : see Apple, Dead Sea. 
Dead set at . . To make a : to make a 

determined attack on . . Perhaps 

alluding to the setter dog. 
Dead shares : pay made to naval officers 

based on the fiction of a complement 

larger than the reality. 
Dead shot, A : an accurate marksman, 

certain to hit his objective. 
Dead, To chastise the : see Chastise. 
Dead, To paint the : see Paint. 
Dead weight : a heavy inert mass, such 

as a dead body. 
Deadlock, A : a situation in which the 

two opposing parties mutually prevent 

any advance towards or retreat from 

one another. 
Deaf as an adder. As : from the legend 

that the adder, in order to safeguard 

himself from the charmer, presses one 

ear against the ground and inserts his 

tail in the other. [Psalm, Iviii, 4 ; 

Shakespeare, 2 King Henry VI, III, 

ii. 76 (1593)] 
Deaf as an ass. As : from the popular 

belief that the ass has no ear for music. 
Deaf as a beetle. As : the beetle in this 

simile is generally believed to be a 

mallet, wMch is dull and consequently 

deaf and also dumb. 
Deaf as a door-nail. As : absolutely deaf. 

[Alexander, 4747 (1420)] 
Deaf as a (door) post. As : quite deaf, or 

so inattentive as to appear so. 
Deaf as a stone. As : [Horace, Epodes, 

XVII, 53-5 ; Occleve, De Regimine 

Principum (1450)] 
Deaf as a wave. As : [Euripides, Medea, 

28 ; Milton, Samson Agonistes, 960-4 

Deaf as a white cat. As : from the popular 

belief that white cats are deaf and 

Deaf-nuts, To live on : to be dependent 

on the worthless or unsubstantial. A 

' deaf ' nut is a nut without a kernel. 

[Bp. Hall, Sermons, I Sam., xii, 24 



Death, In at the : present at the crowning 
of an undertaking. A fox-hunting 

Death bell, A : a passing bell ; a ringing 
noise in the ear, superstitiously believed 
to foretell a death. 

Death or Glory Boys, The : the 17th 
Lancers. From their badge, a Death's 
Head and the words ' Or Glory.' 

Death's door. To be at : to be at the 
point, or almost the point, of death. 
[Coverdale, Spiritual Perle, XVIII 

Death's-head, A : a human skull. 

Death-watch, A : an insect whose ticking, 
usually on a window, is supposed to 
foretell a death. 

Debatable Land, The : the borderland 
between two countries claimed by 
both ; esp. a tract between the Esk 
and the Sark on the border of England 
and Scotland. 

Debt, Bad : see Bad. 

Debt of honour, A : a gambling-debt, 
which cannot be legally enforced. 

Debt of Nature, The : death. [Caxton, 
Art and Craft How to Die (1491)] 

Decalogist, The : Rev. John Dod (1549- 
1645), Eng. Puritan divine, in allusion 
to his famous exposition of the 

December and May : of a married couple, 
the husband old and the wife young. 

Decimo, A man in : a hobble-de-hoy. 

Decks, To clear the : to get minor matters 
out of the way preparatory to under- 
taking a more important engagement. 

Decoration Day : May 30th, on which 
the graves of those who feU in the 
American Civil War (1861-5) are 
decorated with flowers. 

Decoy duck, A : a person, animal, or 
inanimate object used as a means of 
enticing into a trap. Orig. a duck 
trained to decoy wild ducks into a 

Decretals, The False : Papal edicts, 
forged in 9th cent., in order to support 
the claims of the Papacy. 

Dedalian : see Dsdal. 

Deeds not words : action instead of talk. 

Deep waters. In: see Waters. 

Defender of the Faith : a title borne by 
the kings of England, first conferred 
on Henry VIII by the Pope in recog- 
nition of his zeal in opposing the 

Deficit, Madame : Marie Antoinette. In 
allusion to the State deficits said to 
have been due to her extravagance. 


Dekabrists, The : the conspirators con- 
cerned in the abortive Russian Revo- 
hition of 1825. From December, the 
month in which the rising occurred. 

Delectable Mountains, The : the moun- 
tains from which the Celestial City 
was to be seen. Cf. Bunyan, Pilgrim's 
Progress (1678). 

Delegations, The : the deliberative 
assembly representative of Austria 
and Hungary jointly, by which the 
common affairs of the two halves of 
the former Austrian Empire were 

Delenda est Carthago (Lat., Carthage 
must be destroyed) : a quotation from 
Plutarch's life of Cato, stated to have 
been uttered in the Senate by Cato 
(234-149 B.C.) after a visit to Carthage 
during which he noticed its prosperity, 
strength and wealth. 

Delian Problem, The : the problem of 
finding the cube-root of 2. From the 
answer of the oracle of Delos that a 
plague would be stayed when Apollo's 
altar, which was cubical, was doubled. 

Delight of Mankind, The : the Emperor 
Titus (40-81). 

Delilah, A : a temptress. After Delilah, 
the betrayer of Samson. [Judges, xvi] 

Deliver the goods. To : to carry out one's 
undertaking ; to complete a contract 
by carrying out one's own side of it. 

Del^ Crusca ; Delia Cruscan (Ital., of the 
chaff) : after the Accademia della 
Crusca, founded at Florence in 1582, 
celebrated for its dictionary of the 
Italian language and its endeavours to 
sift and purify the language. ' Della 
Cruscan ' is used by English writers to 
designate an artificial style in poetry. 
Robert Merry (1755-98), a writer of 
this character, adopted the signature 
' Della Crusca ' on account of his 
membership of the Accademia. 

Della Bobbia : a kind of terra cotta. 
After Luca della Robbia (1399-1482), 
the inventor. 

Delphic (Delphian) ambignity : after 
the Oracle of Apollo at Delphi, in 

Delphic sword, A : a two-edged sword. 
In allusion to the ambiguities of the 
Oracle of Apollo at Delphi . [Aristotle, 
Politica, I, 2] 

Delphine editions : editions of the Greek 
and Latin classical authors prepared 
• in usum Delphini ' (for the use of the 
Dauphin), the Dauphin (eldest son) of 
Louis XIV. 

2 [Dtmy 

Delta, A : the land between two mouths 
of a river. After the triangular letter, 
delta, in the Grk. alphabet. Orig. 
applied to the land between the mouths 
of the Nile. 

Deluge, The : the flood in the days of 

Deluge, After us the : the future does 
not concern us. Translation of '.,4 />r^s 
nous le deluge ' ' a remark made by 
Mme. de Pompadour to Louis XV 
when he was depressed after the defeat 
by Frederick the Great at Rossbach 


Demijohn, A : a large bottle with a 
narrow neck. Probably from Dame 
Jeanne (Lady Jane) , or from Damaghan 
in Persia, where glass-ware was made. 

Demi-monde, The {Fr., half -world, half- 
society) : immoral women and women 
' of doubtful reputation ' as a class. 
The word was coined by Alexandre 
Dumas, fils. [Fraser's Magazine, LI, 
579 (1855)] 

Demi-rep, A : a woman of doubtful 
reputation. A contraction of demi- 
reputable, half-reputable. 

Democritus, A : a philosopher who 
ridicules the world. After Demo- 
kritos of Abdera (460-357 B.C.), ' The 
Laughing Philosopher.' 

Democritus, To dine with : to be deprived 
of one's dinner. 

Democritus Junior : Robert Burton 
(1577- 1 640), author of The Anatomy 
of Melancholy (1621). Demokritos was 
a Grk. philosopher, sumamed ' the 
Laughing Philosopher ' probably on 
account of his advocacy of humour. 

Demoivre, As sure as : very sure indeed. 
After Abraham de Moivre (i 667-1 754), 
a famous French mathematician, who 
settled in England. The phrase was 
coined by Alexander Pope. 

Demon of Rebellions, The : Henri, Due 
de Bouillon (1555-1623). 

Demos : the people personified. 
Previously, the populace of Athens. 
Orig., the communalty of a Grk. town. 

Demosthenes, A : an eloquent orator. 
After the greatest of Grk. orators 
(384-322 B.C.). 

Demosthenes of the Pulpit, The : Dr. 
Thomas Rennell (1753-1840), Dean of 
Westminster. So-called by William 

Demy, A : a holder of a scholarship at 
Magdalen College, Oxford. Orig., he 
received half \demi) of a Fellow's 


Denarius Dei {Lat., God's ' penny ') : 
payment made to complete a bargain. 

Denarius Sanoti Petri {Lai., St. Peter's 
' penny ') : Peter's pence ; a volun- 
tary tax paid by Catholics to the 

Denim : a coarse fabric. A corruption 
of serge de Nimes (Nlmes, in France). 

Depth, Out of one's : speaking on topics 
with which one is not well acquainted. 
A swimming metaphor. [The Spec- 
tator, No. 105 (171 1)] 

Derby, The : the principal English horse- 
race ; founded by Edward Smith 
Stanley, Earl of Derby, in 1780. 

Derby dog, A : an incident of little im- 
portance sure to occur at the last 
minute. From the proverbial dog on 
the Derby race-course after it has 
been cleared for the race. 

Dernier cri, Le {Fr., the latest cry) : the 
latest fashionable craze. 

Dernier ressort, Le {Fr., the last resort) : 
orig. the highest tribunal to which an 
appeal could be made ; later, any last 
resort. [Archbp. Williams, Apologie 
for Bishops, 89 (1641)] 

Derrick, A : a contrivance for lifting 
heavy weights. After Derrick, a noted 
English hangman, c. 1600. 

Derring-do, A deed of: a deed of 
desperate courage. ' Derring-do ' is 
properly ' daring to do,' or ' daring 
deed.' The modern substantive is 
derived from a misprint in an early 
i6th-cent. edition of Lydgate. 

Derwentwater's Lights, Lord : the Aurora 
Borealis, which is said to have been 
esp. brilliant on Feb. 24th, 1716, the 
night of the execution of James, Earl 
of Derwentwater. 

Desobligeant, A {Fr., disobliging) : a 
kind of chaise. Disobliging, because 
it holds only one person. 

Desolation, The abomination of: see 

Despotism tempered by assassination : 
the government of Russia under the 
Czars. So-described after the murder 
of the Emperor Paul in 1801. 

Destiny, The Man of: Napoleon I. In 
allusion to his belief in Fate. 

Destiny, The shears of: see Shears. 

Destiny, The web of : from the Fates, 
personified as the spinners of the web 
of life. 

Desultory : rambling ; purposeless ; aim- 
less. From DesuUor, a Roman circus- 
rider who used to ride two horses at 
once, leaping from one to the other. 

113 [Devil 

Deucalion's Son, A : from the Grk. 
legend of Deucalion, who, after the 
world had been destroyed by a flood, 
at the instance of the Oracle of Themis 
at Delphi, re-peopled the earth from 

Deuce, The : an expletive. From 
Germ., das Daus. Possibly con- 
nected with the Celtic, dus, a wood 
demon, and the Latin, Deus, a 

Deuce (Devil) with . . To play the : to 
create havoc or mischief. [Devil, 
1542 A.D.] 

Deuce-ace : bad luck ; poverty. After 
a dicing term, meaning a throw of 
two and one. 

Deus ez machina {Lat., God from the 
machine) : an unexpected benefactor 
who extricates from a difficulty. An 
allusion to the mechanical contrivance 
by which the god was made to appear 
on the Grk. stage. The phrase first 
appeared in Greek. [Lucian, 
Hermotimus, 86] 

Deutschland iiber Alles {Germ., Germany 
above all, i.e., Germany before every- 
thing) : the expression of German 
patriotism. It does not bear the 
meaning ' Germany above all other 
countries ' put upon it by Germany's 
enemies during the World War of 

Devil, A printer's : a printer's errand- 
boy. The boys so smeared them- 
selves with ink that they were said to 
be ' as black as the Devil.' Printing 
used to be called ' the Black Art.' 
[Moxon, Mechanic Exercises, II 

Devil and the deep sea. Between the : 
between two desperate alternatives. 
[Monro, Expedition with Mackay's 
Regiment, II, 55 (1637)] 

Devil blacker than he is. To paint the : 
to give an offender a worse reputation 
than he deserves. From the proverb, 
' The Devil is not half so black as he 
is painted.' 

Devil for . . To : to do subordinate work 
for a lawyer, editor, etc. 

Devil his due. To give the : to allow all 
that can properly be said on behalf of 
an offender. [Shakespeare, i Henry I V, 
I. ii (1596)] 

Devil is blind. When the : i.e., never ; a 
time so remote as not to be worthy of 
consideration. [Simon Wagstatf 

(Jon. Swift), Polite Conversations, Dial. 
I (1738)] 




Devil is dead. When the : when evil is 
entirely banished from the world. 
[Coryat, Crudities (1608)] 

Devil loves apple-dumplings. As the : 

i.e., not at all. From the practice at 
the University of Oxford early in i8th 
cent, of feeding the students on apple- 
dumplings on fast-days. 

Devil loves Holy Water, As the : not at 
all. In allusion to the exorcism of 
devils in the Roman Catholic Church 
by means of Holy Water. 

Devil overlooking Lincoln, Like the : 
alluding to a grotesque on Lincoln 
College, Oxford. [J. Heywood, 

Proverbes (1546)] 

Devil, pull baker. Pull : see Pull. 

Devil rebuking sin. The : an offender 
calling attention to the offence of 

Devil take the hindmost, The : everyone 
must look after his own interests. 
[Horace, A rs Poetica, 417; Sir S. Tuke, 
Adventures of Five Hours, V (1663)] 

Devil, To go to the : to be ruined, 
morally or materially. [Paston 

Letters, No. 512 (1465)] 

Devil, To hold a candle to the : to assist 
an evil-doer. From the story of an 
old woman who lit a candle before St. 
Michael, and another before the Devil 
he was trampling under foot, and, 
when reproved, replied that as she did 
not know where she would go when 
she died, she wished to be safe in 
either event. 

Devil to pay. The : suggesting a bad 
bargain made, with heavy retribution. 
In allusion to bargains made with 
wizards or with Satan. 

Devil, To raise the : to create trouble ; 
to make a disturbance. [Vanbrugh, 
Confederate, V, ii (1705)] 

Devil, To shame the : to tell the truth. 
[Henry Porter, Two Angry Women of 
Abington, 640-1 (1599)] 

Devil was sick. The : of an insincere 
conversion. From an interpolation by 
Urquhart and Motteux in their 
translation of Rabelais, Gargantua 
(Bk. IV, ch. xxiv) : 
' The Devil Weis sick. 
The Devil a monk would be ; 
The Devil was well. 
The Devil a monk was he ! ' 

Devil with . . To play the : see Deuce. 

Devil's advocate. The : the Promotor 
Fidei who is appointed to put forward 
the arguments against the canoni- 
zation of a proposed Saint. Hence 


any debater who deliberately puts 
forward a weak case on behalf of his 

Devil's Bedpost, The : the four of clubs ; 
supposed to be an unlucky card. 

Devil's Bible, The : playing-cards. 

Devil's Blue : see Blue. 

Devil's box, A : a dice-box with dice in 
it. [Etherege, Comical Revenge, II, 
iii (1664)] 

Devil's book : see Devil's playbooks. 

Devil's cushion. The : idleness. 

Devil's daughter's portion : Deal, Dover, 
and Harwich. On acount of the 
impositions practised on seamen at 
those ports. 

Devil's dozen, A : thirteen, which is also 
a baker's dozen {q.v.). From the 
number of witches supposed to be 
necessary for a witches' Sabbath. 

Devil's fourposter, A : a hand at whist 
which includes four clubs, and is said 
to be invariably unfortunate. 

Devil's Island : an island off the coast of 
French Guiana, used as a penal 

Devil's livery. The : black and yellow. 
Black for death ; yellow for the plague. 

Devil's luck; Devil's own luck : astonish- 
ingly good luck, which used to suggest 
a bargain with the Devil. 

Devil's Mass : promiscuous swearing. 

Devil's Own, The : (i) the 88th Foot ; 
so-called on account of their bravery 
in the Peninsular War ; (2) the Inns 
of Court Volunteer Regt. ; in allusion 
to lawyer's devils. The title is said to 
have been given to the Temple Com- 
pany of Militia by King George III. 
See Devil for... 

Devil's Parliament, The : the English 
Parliament of 1459, which was 
notorious for its attainders of Yorkists. 

Devil's Paternoster, To say the : to 
grumble. [Terence in English (1614)] 

Devil's play-books. The : playing-cards. 
So-called by the early Presbyterians. 

Devil's snuffbox : a fungus which when 
opened, contains dust. 

Devil's tattoo. To beat the : to keep on 
repeating a monotonous tap or other 
simple sound. 

Devoirs to. .To pay one's : to pay one's 
respects to . . esp. socially. Fr., 
devoir, duty. 

Devonshire C's, The three : the Crocker, 
Cruwys and Copplestone famiUes, very 
ancient families of Devon. 

Dewitt, To : to lynch. From Jan and 
Cornelius de Witt, Dutch statesmen. 


who were murdered by the mob in 

Diamond cut diamond : a contest 
between two keen intellects, or prac- 
tised contestants. [Simon Wagstaff, 
Polite Conversation, Dial. Ill (1738)] 

Diamond of the first water, A : a person 
of superlative excellence. Lit., a 
diamond of the finest quality. 

Diamond necklace. The : see Necklace. 

Diamond, A rough : a person of great 
worth of character, but of unpolished 
manner or uncouth appearance ; like 
a diamond in its rough state. See 
Lord Chesterfield, Letters to His Son 

Diamond State, The : Delaware. 

Diana's livery, To wear : to remain a 
virgin. After Diana, the chaste 
goddess of the chase. 

Diana's worshippers : midnight revellers. 
After Diana, the moon. 

Diaspora, The : the Jews living outside 
of Palestine and dispersed throughout 
the world. Grk., diaspore, dispersion. 

Dicers' oaths. Like : like oaths made to 
be broken, i.e., oaths of gamblers never 
to touch dice again. [Shakespeare, 
Hamlet, III, iv (1602-3)] 

Dick, To happen in the reign of Queen : 
not to happen at all, for there never 
was a Queen Richard. 

Dick's hat-band. As cross as : in allusion 
to a character in some forgotten farce. 
' Dick's hat-band ' is referred to in 
other sayings as fause, fond, tight, 
fine, queer, etc. 

Dick-a-Tuesday : a hobgoblin. 

Dick Talbot's truths : lies. After the 
habitual lying of Richard Talbot, Earl 
of Tyrconnell (1630-91), 

Dickens ? What (Who) the : an em- 
phatic form of inquiry. ' Dickens ' is 
a corrupt form of Nick (the Devil). 
[Shakespeare, Merry Wives of Windsor, 
III, ii, 19 (1600)] 

Dickey, A : a shirt-front ; Germ., 
deckeri, to cover. 

Dickon of the Broom : Richard I, 
Cceur de Lion. From the broom plant, 
the symbol of his family, the Plan- 

Dicky Sam : a native of Liverpool. 

Dictator of Letters, The : Voltaire (1694- 
1778), Fr. philosopher and writer. 

Dictionary, A Living : Wilhelm Leibnitz 
(1646-17 1 6). So-called by George I. 

Diddler, A : a mean cheat. After 
Jeremy Diddler, a character in James 
Kenney, Raising the Wind (1803). 

115 [Dime-cheap 

Die in one's boots. To : to die a sudden 
and violent death. [Diet, of Canting 
Crew (1700)] 

Die in the last ditch. To : to hold on in a 
contest until the last resource is ex- 
pended. From the remark made by 
William III when asked whether he 
did not agree that the United Nether- 
lands, of which he was then Stadt- 
holder, was not on the verge of ruin. 
' Nay, there is one certain means by 
which I can be sure never to see my 
country's ruin. I will die in the last 
ditch ! ' 

Die is cast. The : the decision is taken. 
Metaphor derived from the dice. From 
the phrase said to have been used by 
Julius Caesar when about to cross the 

Die-hard, A : an irreconcileable ; one 
who holds to his principles even though 
left alone in their support. 

Die Hards, The : the 57th (now the West 
Middlesex) Regt. of Foot, whose 
colonel at the Battle of Albuera(i8ii) 
adjured his men, when surrounded, to 
die hard. 

Diego, A Don : a Spaniard. Diego is a 
common name in Spain. 

Dies non, A : a day that is not counted ; 
a non-legal day. Short for dies non 
juridicus, a day on which legal business 
is not transacted. 

Dig, To : see Diggings. 

Dig a pit. To : to lay a trap. [Eccles., 
X, 8 ; Ecclesiasticus, xxvii, 26] 

Dig the well at the river. To : to perform 
a futile and needless task. 

Diggings : lodgings. Originated with 
the Galena lead-miners of Wisconsin 
who in winter lived underground in 

Dignity, To stand upon one's : to show 
consciousness of one's own superiority, 
real or imaginary, in regard to others. 

Dike-louper, A : one who breaks the laws 
of morality. A Scotticism : properly, 
a person or animal that leaps over 

Dilly, A : a wheeled vehicle. Orig. a 
stage-coach. A contraction of ' dili- 

Dilution of Labour : the emploj^ment on 
work, supposed to require special 
training, of untrained labour mingled 
with trained labour. 

Dimanche, Monsieur : a dun. After a 
character in Molifere, Don Juan (1665). 

Dime-cheap : very low in price. The 
American ' dime ' is worth 10 cents. 

Dine] "6 

Dine with the Cross-legged Knights, To : 

to go dinnerless, but spend the dinner 
hour in the Round Church, in which 
are to be seen efi&gies of cross-legged 

Dine with Democritus, To : see Demo- 

Dine with Dake Humphrey, To : see 

Dine with Mohammed, To : to die, and 
dine in Paradise. 

Dine with St. Giles and the Earl of 
Murray, To : to go hungry. The Earl 
of Murray was buried in St. Giles 
Cathedral, Edinburgh, which starving 
people used to frequent. 

Dine with Sir Thomas Gresham, To : not 
to dine, i.e., to spend the dinner-hour 
in the Royal Exchange, London. 
Founded by Sir Thomas Gresham. 

Diner-out of the first water : Sydney 
Smith, the wit (1769-1845). So-called 
by The Quarterly Review. A parody 
on ' a diamond of the first water.' 
The phrase ' A diner-out of the highest 
lustre ' was applied by Sydney Smith 
himself to George Canning. 

Ding-thrift, A: a spendthrift. One who 
dings, or drives away, thrift. 

Dingaan's Day : December 16. The 
anniversary of the defeat in 1838 of the 
Zulus under Dingaan by the Boers. 

Dinner-bell, The : a sobriquet of Edmund 
Burke (1729-97), who was accustomed 
to speak at such length in Parliament 
that he encroached on the dinner-hour. 

Diogenes' cell : see Diogenes and his tub. 

Diogenes and his lantern : Diogenes 
(412-323 B.C.), the Grk. cynic philoso- 
pher is said to have once been found in 
the street with a lighted lantern, and, 
when asked his reason, replied that he 
was seeking an honest man. 

Diogenes and his tub : Diogenes was 
reputed to have lived a part of his life 
in a tub feeling himself independent 
of the ordinary necessities of civili- 

Diogenes of four-legged brutes. The : the 
pig. So-called by Douglas Jerrold. 

Diomedean swop, A : an exchange in 
which one party obtains a pre- 
ponderant advantage. From an ex- 
change of armour between Diomed and 
Glaucus described in Homer, Iliad, VI. 
Diotrephes, A : one who seeks high 
office in church. After a character 
mentioned in John, iii, 9-10. 
Diplomacy, Shirt-sleeves : see Shirt- 


Diplomatic cold, A : a feigned indis- 
position, invented in order to escape 
the necessity of committing oneself to 
a definite course of action or policy. 
First used in 1885 by Timothy Healy 
of the then Lx)rd Hartington and W. E. 

Dircsean Swan, The : Pindar (518-442 
B.C.). From the fountain of Dirce in 
the neighbourhood of his birth-place. 

Direct action : a strike or other industrial 
action taken not to secure industrial 
ends, but as a means of interference in 
the general government of the country 
or in its foreign policy. 

Directory, The : the ruling Committee 
in France under the First Republic 
from 1795-1799- Fr., Direcioire. 

Dirleton, To doubt with : after Sir John 
Nisbet, of Dirleton, whose Doubts 
(1698) is considered a legal classic in 

Dirt, To eat : to submit to humiliation. 
From the proverb, ' Every man must 
eat a peck of dirt before he dies.' 

Dirt-cheap : exceedingly cheap ; almost 
as cheap as dirt. 

Dirty action, A : a mean action. 
[Sheridan, The Rivals, II, ii (1775)] 

Dirty Half-hundred, The : the 50th Regt. 
of Foot (ist Batt. Royal West Kent 
Regt.), who in the Peninsular War 
wiped their faces with their black 

Dirty linen in public. To wash : to discuss 
or disclose scandals in the course of a 
public dispute. The phrase was used 
by Napoleon in a speech to the Legis- 
lative Assembly on his return from 
Elba, and previously by Voltaire in 
an address to the Encyclopaedists. 

Dirty Shirts, The : the loist Foot (ist 
Batt. Munster Fusiliers), who fought 
in their shirt-sleeves at Delhi in 1857. 

Dirty weather : stormy weather at sea. 

Disciples of St. Antling : Puritans. After 
the Church of St. Antling, or Anthony, 
in the City of London, which Puritans 
used to frequent. 

Discount, At a : not in demand, reduced 
in value. 

Discretion, Tears of : the age at which 
one is expected to have attained 
responsibility ; in English law this 
age is 14. 

Disgruntled (To be) : (to be) sulky, 
grumpy, dissatisfied. [H. Cave, 
History of Popery (1682)] 

Dish a person. To : to circumvent a 
person ; to upset his plans. From the 


cook's point of view the preparation 
of food is completed and disposed of 
when it is dished up. 
Dish fit for the gods, A : a course at a 
meal most attractively prepared. 
[Shakespeare, Julius Caesar, II, i, 

I. 173 (1603)] 

Dish the Whigs, To : to upset the plans 
of one's opponent by appropriating 
his programme. The phrase was used 
by Edward, 14th Earl of Derby, in 
reference to the Reform Bill of 

Dish, To lay in one's : to charge a person 
with . , ; to accuse a person of . . 
[Phaer, Virgil (1600)] 

Disjecta membra {Lat., scattered re- 
mains) : From Horace, Disjecti 
membra poetae, limbs of a dismembered 
poet. [Satires, I, iv, 62] 

Dismal Science, The : political economy. 
So-called by Thomas Carlyle. 

Diss, To know nothing about : to take 
no interest in matters of slight im- 
portance. From the infrequency of 
the visits of travellers to Diss, in 

Distaff side. On the : on the female side 
of a family. The distaff was the 
emblem of feminine industry. 

Distaff-sisters, The : the Fates. 

Distaff's (St. Distaff's) Day: the day 
following the Feast of Epiphany, on 
which women resumed their work. 

Distance, To keep one's : to take up an 
attitude of reserve. [Lady Alimony, 

II, vi (1659)] 

Distinction without a difference, A : no 
difference at all. [William Hazlitt, 
First Acquaintance with Poets'] 

Dithyrambic : wild, boisterous. From 
Dithurambos, a hymn in honour of 

Dittany, To strew : to prepare the bridal 
chamber. Dittany is an aromatic 
plant, whose name is derived from 
Mount Dicte in Crete. 

Ditto to Mr. Burke, To say : to have 
nothing further to add to a previous 
complete statement of your case. The 
speech on the hustings of a fellow- 
candidate of Edmund Burke, after an 
eloquent address by that orator, was : 
' I say ditto to Mr. Burke.' 

Dittoes : coat, waistcoat, and trousers, 
all of the same pattern. Frequently 
used for trousers only. 

Ditty bag ; Ditty box, A : a bag or box 
used by seamen to hold small articles. 
Possibly from ' dittis,' the name of a 



material of which they may originally 
have been made. 

Diva Fortune {Lat., the Goddess Fortune) : 
games of chance. 

Dives, A {Lat., rich) : a rich man. From 
the parable of Dives and Lazarus in 
Luke, xvi. 

Divide et impera {Lat, divide and rule) : 
introduce dissensions among your 
opponents, a maxim of Macchiavelli 
(1469-152 7), the Italian political 

Divine Doctor, The : Jan de Ruysbroeck 
(1293-1381), Flemish mystic. 

Divine lovers : platonic lovers {q..v). 

Divine Pagan, The : Hypatia of Alexan- 
dria (d. 415), woman philosopher. 

Divine plant. The : vervain or Herba 
Sacra. So-called by the Romans, who 
believed it to have almost miraculous 

Divine Right of Kings, The : the 
theory that kings are appointed by 
God, and that it is of the nature of 
blasphemy to attempt to frustrate 
their actions. 

Divine Speaker, The : Tyrtamos (370- 
287 B.C.). So-called by Aristotle. 

Dix-huit Brumaire : the Coup d'Etat of 
November 9, 1799 (18 Brumaire in the 
Republican calendar), when Napoleon 
appointed himself First Consul. 

Dixie's Land : the Southern or Slave 
States of the United States ; the negro 
name for the land that was to them 
their home. The term arose in New 
York early in 19th cent, from a song, 
or popular story, of a kindly disposed 
slave-owner named Dixie whose slaves 
increased so that there was no room 
for them all on his estate. The surplus 
migrated, but continued to look on 
their birthplace, ' Dixie's Land,' as 
home, their earthly paradise. Another 
derivation is from the Mason and 
Dixon's Line, which separated the 
Slave States from the Free. 

Dixit (Ipse dixit), A {Lat., he [himself] 
has spoken) : a positive statement. 
Also dixi, I have spoken. [Earle, 
Microcosmography : A Scepticke in 
Religion (1628)] 

Dizzy : Benjamin Disraeli, Lord Beacons- 
field (1804-81). A corruption of his 

Do ut des {Lat., I give that you may give): 
a suggestion of an agreement for 
mutual benefit. A Roman legal 
term, popularized by its use by 

Do] ii8 

Do what is done. To : to act in a futile 
manner. From an ancient Grk. 

Dobbin, A : (i) a faithful friend and 
patient lover, after a character in 
Thackeray, Vanity Fair (1847) ; (2) a 
steady old horse suitable for children 
to ride. 

Doctor, A : a seventh son. From the 
belief that he had exceptional powers 
in curing certain diseases. 

Doctor, The : the cook on board ship 
who doctors the food. 

Doctor accounts. To : to falsify or 
manipulate accounts. A suggestion 
that the accounts are ill and require to 
be cured or drugged. 

Doctor Brighton : Brighton, the famous 
watering-place in Sussex. This name 
is said to have been given it on account 
of its salubriousness by George IV, 
who spent much time there. 

Doctor Dodipoll, As wise as : not at all 
wise. See Dodipoll. [The Wisdome 
of Dr. Body pole (1600)] 

Doctor, The Authentic : see Authentic. 

Doctor, The Divine : see Divine. 

Doctor Fell : Applied to a man whom one 
dislikes instinctively, without being 
able to give one's reasons for such dis- 
like. After John Fell (1625-86), Dean 
of Christchurch, after he had expelled 
Tom Brown, the satirist, who wrote 
the following lines on him : 

' I do not like thee. Doctor Fell, 
The reason why I cannot tell ; 
But this alone I know full well — 
I do not like thee. Doctor Fell.' 

Doctor niuminatus : (i) Raymond Lully 
(1235-1315), Span, scholastic ; (2) 
Johannes Tauler (1294-1361), Germ, 

Doctor Jekyll and Mr. Hyde : see Jekyll. 

Doctor Mirabilis : Roger Bacon (1214- 
92), Eng. scholar and philosopher. 

Doctor My-book : John Abemethy (i 765- 
1830), who used continually to refer his 
patients to ' my ' book. Surgical 

Doctor Singularis et Invincibilis : William 
of Occam (d. c. 1349), Eng. Franciscan 
scholar and controversialist. 

Doctor Sjmtax : a simple-minded, 
scholarly clergyman. After a 

character in The Tour of Dr. Syntax 
by William Combe (1813). 

Doctors : false dice ; because they are 
doctored (faked). 

Doctor's Commons : offices in London 
for the registration and probate of wills. 


granting of marriage-licenses, etc. 
Orig. the common buildings of the 
College of Doctors of Law engaged in 
the Ecclesiastical and the Admiralty 

Doctrinaire, A : one who puts, or 
attempts to put, theories into prac- 
tice. After a French political party 
which came into existence after 181 5, 
considered by their opponents to be 
wedded to doctrines rather than to 

Doddy, A : (i) a stupid person ; a con- 
traction of ' doddy poll ' ; (2) (Scot.) a 
cow or bull without horns. The 
origin of the word from ' dodded,' 
hornless, is in both senses the same. 

Dodger, An artful : see Artful dodger. 

Dodipoll (Doddsrpoll), A : a stupid person. 
See also Doddy. 

Dodipoll, As wise as Doctor : see Doctor 

Dodo, As dead as a : the dodo, a large 
bird of the island of Mauritius, which 
was specially stupid in appearance, 
has been extinct since 17th cent. 

Doe and Richard Roe, John : imaginary 
personages introduced to illustrate an 
argument. Orig. so-used in legal 

Doe-faces : see Dough-faces. 

Dog a bad name, To give a : to condemn 
a person from prejudice. From the 
proverb ' Give a dog a bad name and 
hang him.' 
I Dog, A dead : something of no value. 
(1 Samuel, xxiv, 14). 

Dog, A dirty : an objectionable, usually 
lewd, fellow. From the dogs in the 
Near East, which are employed as 

Dog a person's footsteps. To : to follow a 
person like a dog. [A Warning for 
Faire Women, II, 11. 261-2 (1599)] 

Dog and bones to one's ass. To give 
straw to one's : see Straw. 

Dog and shadow. To be like : (of two 
persons) to be inseparable, one to be 
always following the other. 

Dog and wolf. Between : dusk. 

Dog in a doublet, A : a bold, determined 
man. From the practice in Germany 
and Flanders of clothing in doublets 
dogs employed in hunting the wild- 

Dog in the Manger, A : one who, unable 
himself to use an advantage, prevents 
others from doing so. From the fable 
of the dog that lay in a manger 
and prevented the ox from feeding. 



[Lyly, Euphues : Anatomy of Wit 

Dog Latin : see Latin. 
Dog life, To lead a cat-and- : (of people 

who live together) to be always 

Dog, Love me, love my : if you love me 

you must love all that pertains to me ; 

do everything for my sake. [Hey- 

wood, Proverbes (1546)] 
Dog, of God, The : the bear. So-called 

by the Laplanders. 
Dog over a stile. To help a lame : to 

assist a person in a difficulty. [Hey- 

wood, Proverbes (1546) ; Marston, 

Insatiate Countess, II, ii (1605)] 
Dog, The blade : melancholy ; bad- 
Dog to bark. To teach : see Teach. 
Dog, To be top : see Top dog. 
Dog, To be under- : see Under-dog. 
Dog, To wake a sleeping : to stir up 

trouble unnecessarily. From the 

proverbial saying, ' Let sleeping dogs 

Dogs as you have bones to pick. To have 

as many : to have as many children 

as you can support. [J. M. Wilson, 

Tales of the Borders : '1 he Henpecked 

Man (1835)] 
Dog's death. To die a : to die like a 

dog, no one troubling himself in the 

Dog's life. To lead a : to live a life of 

wretchedness, like a dog which nobody 

wants. [Anth. Brewer, Lingvta, II, 

iv (1607)] 
Dogs, The : the 17th Lancers, whose 

crest is a Death's Head and ' Or Glory,' 

wi?., D.O.G. 
Dog's letter. The : ' R,' whose sound is 

uttered by a dog when snarling. 
Dogs lie. Let sleeping : see Dog, To 

wake a sleeping. 
Dogs of war. The : famine, sword and 

fire. [Shakespeare, Julius Ccesar, III, 

i (1601)] 
Dogs, To go to the : to go to the bad ; 

to fall to a very low moral or material 

level. In the East the remains of a 

feast are thrown to the dogs. Possibly, 

however, from the Dutch proverb : 

' Toe goe, toe de dogs' ' Money gone, 

credit gone.' 
Dogs, To throw to the : to throw away 

as worthless. [Shakespeare, Macbeth, 

V, iii, 47 (1606)] 
Dog-bolt, A : a term of reproach ; a 

servile follower. [Paston Letters, No. 

533 (1465)] 


Dog-oart, A : a small two- wheeled cart 
or trap in which sportsmen used to 
convey their dogs to the field. 

Dog-cheap : very cheap. Swed., dog, 
very. [Shakespeare, i Henry IV, 
III, iii (1596-7)] 

Dog days, The : the period about the 
rising of the Dog Star, the hottest of 
the year. It was a popular belief that 
at this time of year more than at any 
other dogs are liable to become mad. 

Dog-eared : (of leaves of a book) turned 
down at the corners. 

Dog-fall : a fall in which both comba- 
tants touch the ground. A wrestling 

Dog-rose, A : a wild rose. From the 
popular belief that its root was an 
antidote for the bite of a dog. 

Dog-sleep, A : a pretended sleep. From 
the popular belief that dogs sleep with 
one eye open. 

Dog-tired : extremely tired ; as a dog 
after the chase. 

Dog-whipping Day : October 18, on 
which a dog is once said to have eaten 
the consecrated wafer in York Minster. 

Dogberry, A : a stupid, self-important 
official. After a character in Shakes- 
peare, Much Ado About Nothing 

Doggett's Badge : a prize in a rowing 
match on the Thames awarded annu- 
ally on August I. Instituted by the 
actor, Thomas Doggett, in 171 6. 

Doily : a small ornamental napkin ; 
formerly, ' doily napkin.' After Doily, 
a London linen-draper in the early 
1 8th cent. 

Doit for . . Not to care a : to place no 
value upon . . A doit was a small 
Scottish coin. 

Dolce far niente {Ital., sweet do-nothing) : 
pleasant idleness. 

Doldrums, In the : a period of quietude 
and rest or dejection. After the name 
of a region of the ocean near the 
Equator, noted for its calms. 

Dollar, A : a coin of varying value in 
the Amer. States. An abbreviation of 
Joachimsthaler. After Joachimsthal, 
Bohemia, whence the silver from which 
the coin was first minted in 15 18 was 

Dollar, The Almighty : see Almighty. 

Dolly-shop, A : a rag-shop, which 
formerly had a black doll as a sign. 

Dolly Varden, A : a kind of woman's 
dress or hat. After a character in 
Dickens, Barnaby Rudge (1840). 


Domesday Book : an account of the 
division and ownership of the land 
of England, compiled in the reign of 
William I. 

Dominican, A : a friar of the Order 
founded by Dominic de Guzman (i I7o- 
I22I) ; a Black Friar, or Preaching 

Dominie Sampson, A : a village school- 
master. After a poor, modest, scholar- 
ly village schoolmaster in Sir W. Scott, 
Guy Mannering (1815). 

Dominoes : a game with marked stones, 
invented by two French monks, the 
victor reciting the first verse of the 
Vesper service : ' Dixit Dominus 
Domino meo.' 

Don Diego, A : see Diego. 

Don Juan, A : a libertine. After a semi- 
mythical Spaniard, Don Juan Tenorio, 
who lived in 14th cent., and whose 
career has supplied the basis for 
several plays. 

Don Quixote, A : a romantic, absurdly 
chivalrous person. After the hero of 
Cervantes, Don QuichoUe (1604). 

Donat ; Donet, A : an elementary 
grammar. After .^lius Donatus (fl. 
356), Roman grammarian. 

Donation of Gonstantine, The : a forgery, 
attributed to Constantine the Great, 
conveying the donation to the Papacy 
of temporal sovereignty over Rome 
and the neighbouring region. 

Donation of Pepin, The : the basis of 
the temporal claims of the Papacy. 
In 755 Pepin gave the Pope the 
exarchate of Ravenna and the Re- 
public of Rome. 

Done to one's hand : already done ; 

Donkey, To ride the black : to be obstin- 
ate (as is a donkey.) 

Donkey between two bundles of hay. To 
be like the : unable to make up one's 
mind between two alternatives. From 
the story of the donkey that died of 
starvation while hesitating whether to 
partake of the hay on his right or on 
his left. 

Donnybrook Fair ; Donnybrook : a scene 
of disorder and not very serious riot. 
From the proceedings at the annual 
fair held until 1855 at Donnybrook, 
Co. Dublin. 

Doom, The crack of : the end of the 
world ; the signal for the Last 

Doomsday, To wait till : to wait an 
indefinite time ; to wait for that which 

xao [Dotterel 

will never occur. Lit., to wait until 
the Day of Judgment at the end of the 

Door of . . To lay a charge at the : to 
accuse of . . 

Door of . . To lay at the : to attribute 
to .. 

Door of . . To be left at the : to be left 
to be paid by . . 

Door with an axe, To open a : see Open. 

Doornail, As dead as a : see Dead. 

Dopper, A : (i) in early 17th cent., an 
Anabaptist ; (2) a member of the 
Dutch South African Church. Dutch, 
Dipper, Baptist. 

Dora : the initial letters (D.O.R.A.) of 
the Defence Of the Realm Act, the 
Act of Parliament by which the 
liberties of the English people were 
restricted or suspended during the 
period of the European War (19 14-18). 

Dorcas Society, A : an association of 
philanthropic women who make 
clothes for the poor. After the 
charitable Dorcas in Acts, ix, 39. 

Dorchester butts. As big as : the butts 
of Dorchester were famous for their 

Doric Dialect, The : a broad dialect, esp. 
those of the Scottish Lowlands and 
the North of England. After the 
dialect anciently spoken at Doris, in 

Doric Reed, The : pastoral poetry. After 
Doris, a division of ancient Greece, 
and the reed (flute), the musical 
instrument of the pastoral poets. 

Dormouse, As sleepy as a : the dormouse 
has been looked upon in England as 
the example of a heavy sleeper at least 
as far back as the early i6th cent. 

Dosser, A : one who frequents doss- 
houses {q.v.). 

Doss-house, A : a low-class lodging 
house. Perhaps from Lat., dorsum, 
the back. 

Dosser-headed : silly ; empty-headed. 
Fr., dosser, a pannier. 

Dot the i's and cross the t's. To : to be 
meticulously accurate. 

Dotheboys HaU, A : a low-class boarding- 
school at which the boys are badly 
treated. After the school in Dickens, 
Nicholas Nickleby (1838). 

Dotterel, A : a silly person ; a dupe. 
After the dotterel, a bird, formerly 
believed to be so exceptionally silly as 
to be easily caught. 

Dotterel, To dor the : to cheat. From 
' dor,' to outwit, and ' dotterel ' \q.v.). 

Dotty] 1 

Dotty (To be) : (to be) silly. Formerly 
' doat ' or ' dote.' [Dekker and 
Webster, Northward Ho, IV, i (1607)] 

Douay Version, The : the Roman Catholic 
translation of the Bible into English, 
completed at the English College at 
Douay in 1609. 

Doable, A : a person who exactly or 
nearly exactly resembles another in 

Double Dutch : see Dutch. 

Doable entendre (entente) {O.-Fr., double 
meaning) : a remark capable of two 
interpretations, esp. when one of them 
is suggestive of indelicacy. [Dryden, 
Mariage d la Mode, III, i, 36 

Double-faced : treacherous, deceitful. 
[Thos. Lodge, Rosalind (1590)] 

Double First, A : two First-Class 
Honours certificates at Oxford or 
Cambridge University. 

Double-headed Eagle, The : the emblem 
of the German Empire, formed by 
Charlemagne of a combination of the 
German eagle with its head turned to 
the left and the Roman eagle with 
its head turned to the right. 

Double or quits : the alternative of the 
cancellation of a debt or the doubling 
of its amount. A gambling phrase. 

Double-dealing : dishonourable, deceitful 
proceedings. [Skelton, Dethe Erie 
Northumberland, 174 (1529)] 

Double-dyed traitor, A : a thorough 
traitor. Lit., one who has been twice 
dyed with treason. 

Double-edged : cutting both ways, both 
the user and him against whom the 
argument or instrunaent is used. 

Douceur, A {Fr., sweetener) : a bribe ; 
a present. [Horace Walpole, Letters, 
IV (1763)] 

Doudon, A : a short, fat woman. 

Doughboy, A ; an American private 
soldier. From the shape of the buttons 
on his tunic. 

Dough-faces : Northern politicians 
believed to be easily influenced by 
those of the Southern States ; whose 
faces could be worked upon as if they 
were made of dough. 

Doukhobors, The {Russ., spirit-fighters) : 
a Russian nonconformist sect. 

Dover and Calais meet. When : i.e., 

Doverco(ur)t, A : a Babel. Probably 
from the confusion caused by the 
many frequenters of the Church at 
Dovercourt, Essex, which once 

t [Drago 

possessed a miraculous Cross that 

Dowager Princess Albert of Saze-Coburg, 
The : the Legitimist designation of 
Queen Victoria. 

Dowlas ; Mr. Dowlas : (i) a kind of 
calico, made in imitation of a linen, 
formerly manufactured at Daoulas in 
Brittany ; (2) a linen-draper, one who 
sells dowlas. 

Down, A bed of : see Bed. 

Down a person. To : to force him down ; 
to defeat him. [Mrs. Piozzi, Anecdotes 
of Dr. Johnson (1786)] 

Down in the dumps : see Dumps. 

Down on . . To be : to be severe upon . . 

Down on one's luck. To be : to be un- 

Down in the mouth. To be : to be low- 
spirited, dejected. [Bp. Hall, Epistles, 
I, 6 (1608)] 

Down tools policy, A : a strike on the 
part of workmen, i.e., a policy of 
laying down tools. 

Down train, A : a train proceeding away 
from the railway headquarters. See 
Up train and Go up. To. 

Downing Street : the British Government 
of the day. After the street in which 
the Prime Minister of the day resides. 
It was named after Sir George Down- 
ing, M.P. (1624-84), who lived there 
in the reign of Charles II. 

Downright Dunstable : see Dunstable. 

Downy cove (etc.). A : a sharp individual, 
awake to every subterfuge. 

Dozen, To talk nineteen (sixteen) to the : 
to talk very quickly ; to gabble ; to 
utter nineteen words in the normal 
time for twelve. 

Dozen, Thirteen to the : over-full 
measure. [Panegyricke Verses upon 
Cory at and His Crudities (161 1)] See 
Baker's dozen. 

Draconic ; Draconian : extremely harsh 
and cruel. After Draco (fl. 624 B.C.), 
an Athenian law-giver who made 
every crime a capital ofience. 

Draft on Aldgate Pump, A : a worthless 
cheque or bill-of-exchange. A pun 
on ' draft ' (on a bank) and ' draft ' 
(a drawing of water). [Fielding, 
Essay on Character of Men (1762)] 

Draggle-tail (Dratchel, Drazel), A : a 
slut ; an untidy woman, whose skirts 
are dragged in the mud. [Nashe, 
Saffron Walden, 143 (1596)] 

Drago doctrine, The : a doctrine enunci- 
ated (1902) by Luis Drago (1859-I921), 
Argentine minister for foreign affairs, 

Dragoman] b2 

that no power had any right to use 
force against another power in order 
to collect debts due to its nationals. 

Dragoman, A : an interpreter attached 
to embassies in the Near East. Arab., 
Tarjumait, interpreter. 

Dragon, A blind : a chaperon ; one who 
plays propriety in the presence of two 
young people of opposite sexes. 

Dragons' teeth : causes of civil dis- 
sension. From the legend of dragons' 
teeth sown by Cadmus, from which 
irrepressible fighting men sprang to 

Dragon's teeth. To sow : to stir up civil 
strife ; to lay the seeds of future 
trouble. See Dragons' teeth. 

Dragonnade, A : a devastating in- 
cursion. From the persecution of 
Fr. Protestants by soldiery under 
Louis XIV, in which dragoons were 
quartered on the sufferers. 

Dragoon, A : a cavalry soldier armed 
with a ' dragoon ' (musket), so-called 
because, like a dragon, it breathes fire. 

Dragoon, To : to oppress and ill-treat. 
See Dragonnade. 

Dramatic Unities, The : according to 
Aristotle : one catastrophe, one 
locality, one day. 

Dram-drinking: intemperance; tippling. 
From ' dram,' a small liquid-measure 

Drang nach Osten {Germ., pressure 
towards the East) : the political 
policy of the German Empire (before 
1918 1) to extend its influence in the 
direction of the East. 

Drat it ! : a corruption of the oath ' May 
God rot it ! ' 

Draw a blank. To : to secure no result 
for one's efforts. In allusion to 
drawing a blank m a lottery. 

Draw a person, To : to obtain informa- 
ation from a person who is unaware 
that he is furnishing it. 

Draw a person out. To : to entice a 
person to show that of which he is 
best capable. 

Draw a waggon. To take a hair to : see 

Draw it mild. To : to request another to 
be moderate. Orig. in reference to a 
barmaid's drawing mild, as opposed 
to strong, beer. 

Draw the King's Picture, To : to coin 
false money. 

Draw the line at, . . To : not to go beyond 
an imaginary line in matters mental 
and spiritual as well as material. 

Draw the long bow. To : see Bow. 


Draw the teeth of . . To : to deprive of 

the opportunity of doing mischief. 
Draw water with a sieve. To : to act in a 
futile manner. From an ancient Grk. 
Drawoansir, A : a blustering bully. After 
a character in George Villiers, Duke of 
Buckingham, The Rehearsal (1672). 
Drawn battle, A : a contest in which 
neither party has the advantage. 
Possibly the original form was ' with- 
drawn battle,' indicating the with- 
drawal of both armies. 
Dreadnought, A : a man-of-war of very 
great power, after the name of the 
first of the class. 
Dreamer, The Immortal : John Bunyan 
(1628-88), author of The Pilgrim's 
Progress (1678). 
Dred Scott Decision, The : the decision of 
the Federal Court of the United States 
(1856) that a slave had no rights as a 
person but was a property, and as such 
to be protected by the State. After 
Dred Scott, a slave around whom the 
litigation centred. 
Dree one's weird. To : to suffer one's 

Dreikaiser Bimd, The (Germ., three 
Emperors' alliance) : an informal 
alliance between the Emperors of 
Germany, Austria and Russia between 
1872 and 1879. 
Dresden shepherdess, A : a girl dainty 
in dress and appearance. From the 
style of the shepherdesses in Dresden 
Dressed up to the knocker : dressed in 
the height of fashion. In allusion to 
the time when door-knockers were 
affixed as high as possible on doors so 
as to prevent them from being 
wrenched off and stolen (a common 
practice) . 
Drink like a fish. To : to drink much ; 
to be addicted to intemperance. 
[Gray, Letters, LX. (1747)] 
Drink at Freeman's Quay, To : to enjoy 
a free drink. At one time carmen, 
etc., who called at Freeman's Quay, nr. 
London Bridge, were entertained with 
free drinks. 
Drink in one's own glass. To : to follow 

one's own bent. 
Drink up the sea. To : to attempt the 
impossible. [Naevius,, 
verse 52] 
Drinks on a person. To have the : to 

have the advantage of a person. 
Dripping Pan, The Queen of : see Queen. 



Drive a coaoh-and-four (-six) through . . 
To : to find ready means of evading a 
(law or regulation). Daniel O'Connell 
( 1 775-1847), the Irish orator and 
agitator, boasted : ' I can drive a 
coach-and-six through any Act of 
Parliament,' in allusion to the loose 
manner in which parliamentary bills 
were drafted. Earlier, Sir Stephen 
Rice (1637-1715), Irish judge, had 
boasted, before he was raised to the 
bench, that he would ' drive a coach 
and six horses through the (Irish) Act 
of Settlement.' 

Drive a hard bargain, To : to exact more 
than the value. [Sam. Butler, 
Characters : A Traveller (1670)] 

Drive pigs to market. To : to snore, like 
the grunting of a pig. 

Drive too many omnibuses through 
Temple Bar, To : to attempt too many 
undertakings simultaneously. 

Droit d'Aubaine : the right of the French 
king (abolished in 1819) to all the 
movable property of aliens dying in 
his kingdom. 

Dromios, The Two : two (brothers) very 
much alike in appearance. After the 
characters in Shakespeare, Comedy of 
Errors (1589). 

Drone among the bees, A : an idler 
among the active. [Paston Letters, 
No. 1004 (1465)] 

Drop an acquaintance. To : to cease to 
acknowledge an acquaintance. [In 
early i8th cent.] 

Drop 0' the Cratur, A : see Cratur. 

Drop in the ocean, A : that which bears 
an insignificant proportion to its 

Drop too much. To take a : to drink 
more than is good for one ; to become 

Drown the miller. To : to pour an ex- 
cessive amount of water into tea, etc. 
A suggestion that the excess is so 
great as to drown the miller who uses 
the water-wheel. 

Drug in the market, A : a commodity 
that is unsaleable or saleable only with 
difficulty ; a superfluity, not desired 
by anybody. The use of ' drug ' in 
this sense probably arose out of a play 
on words in 17th cent. Its original 
meaning is an ingredient used in 
chemistry, pharmacy, etc. ; it is also 
derived from Fr., drogue, rubbish. 

Drum, A : an evening party. Either 
(i) from the noise made by the 
card-players, or (2) a corruption of 


' drawing-room.' [i8th and early 19th 

Drum Ecclesiastic, The : the cushion of 
the pulpit on which some preachers 
are accustomed to thump. [Butler, 
Hudibras, Pt. I, canto i, 1. 11 (1663)] 

Drum's entertainment, John (Tom) : ill- 
treatment ; possibly derived from a 
forgotten story or incident. There 
was a short early 17th cent, play 
entitled Jacke Drum's Entertainment. 
Or the expulsion of an unwelcome 
guest who is, as it were, drummed 
out of the Army. 

Drum-sticks : cooked legs of a chicken. 
On account of their resemblance to 
drum-sticks proper. [Foote, Mayor 
of Garrat, I (1763)] 

Drumhead Court Martial, A : a summary 
military trial. Held in the open 
field, with a drum as a table. 

Drummer, A : a commercial traveller, 
whose function it is to drum up 
customers as if they were recruits. 
An American term. 

Drunk as a cobbler. As : exceedingly 
drunk. From as early as 15th cent, 
in England cobblers were proverbial 
for drunkenness. 

Drunk as a fiddler. As : very drunk. 
The intemperance of professional 
fiddlers at evening parties was pro- 
verbial. [The Puritan (1609)] 

Drunk as a lord. As : very drunk. 
Alluding to the intemperance of many 
members of the Upper Classes until 
the beginning of 19th cent. [Middle- 
ton and Rowley (1623)] 

Drunk as a Pope, As : very drunk. In 
allusion to the reputation for drinking 
acquired by Pope Benedict XII (d. 

Drunk as Chloe, As : very drunk. In 
allusion to the cobbler's wife of Linden 
Grove, to whom the poet Prior was 
attached, and who was notorious for 
her intemperance. 

Drunk as David's sow. As : from the wife 
of one David Lloyd of Hereford, 
whose wife was found drunk in his 
pig-stye, when his friends came to 
view a freak sow that he owned. 
This explanation cannot be traced 
earlier than 171 1 {British Apollo, I, 
527] although the phrase appears in 
Ray, English Proverbs (1670). 

Drunk as the Devil, As : impudently 
drunk. [14th cent.] 

Drunk as a tinker at Banbury, As : see 

Drunkard's] 134 

Dmnkard's cloak, A : a contrivance like 
a large wooden crinoline, placed on a 
drunkard's shoulders in order to 
restore him to sobriety. 

Drunken Deddington : unconscious 
through drink. A play on the word 
' dead.' 

Drunken Parliament, The : see Parlia- 

Drunkenness, The seven degrees of: 
ape-drunk, because the subject leaps 
and sings ; lion-drunk, because he is 
quarrelsome ; swine-drunk, because 
he is sleepy ; sheep-drunk, because he 
is conceited but speechless ; martin- 
drunk, because he has drunk himself 
sober again ; goat-drunk, because he 
is lascivious ; fox-drunk, because he 
is crafty. 

Dry as a bone. As : [Taylor, Western 
Voyage to the Mount, 7 (1649)] 

Dry goods : merchandise consisting of 
hosiery, textile fabrics, etc. Orig. an 
American term. 

Dry lodgings : sleeping accommodation 
without food. 

Dry-as-dust, A : a pedant and antiquary. 
After Dr. Dryasdust in Sir W. Scott's 
Prefaces. The word as a common 
noun was popularized by Carlyle. 
[Wit Revived, or a New and Excellent 
Way of Divertisement, by Asdryasdust 
Tossofacan (1674)] 

Dub up. To : to pay. From the practice 
of dubbing (touching a man on the 
shoulder) when about to arrest him 
for debt. 

Dubbed a Knight, To be : said of one who 
has drunk deeply to his mistress in a 
kneeling posture. 

Ducat, A : a European coin, no longer 
current. First struck by Roger II, 
Duke of Apulia. The name is derived 
from the legend (' Sit tibi, Christe, 
datus, quem tu regis, iste ducatus ') 
which appeared on the first ducats. 

Duchess of Devonshire fashion. In 
the : in the style of dress of the 
Duchess of Devonshire in Gains- 
borough's famous portrait of her. i 

Duchess, A regular old : a middle-aged | 
or elderly woman of extremely digni- j 
fied appearance. 

Duchy, The : (i) the Duchy of Cornwall, ' 
belonging to the Prince of Wales ; 
(2) of Lancaster, pertaining to the 
British Crown. 

Duck, A lame : a disabled person, esp. 
one who cannot meet his financial 
obligations. Orig. a Stock Exchange 


colloquialism. [Horace Walpole, : 
Letters to Sir Horace Mann (1761)] | 

Duck in a thunderstorm. Like a dying : * 
very ' down-in-the-mouth,' or lacka- 
daisical. J 

Duckling, An ugly : the unpromising jj 
child in a family who ultimately sur- \ 
passes the others. From one of Hans 
Andersen's fairy-tales of that title. 

Duck's egg, A : a score of naught. 
From the resemblance of the symbol 
O to a duck's egg. 

Ducks and drakes with. To play : to 
squander ; to scatter carelessly. From 
the game of duck and drake, which 
consists of so casting a pebble along the 
surface of water that it keeps on 
dipping into and then rising out of 
the water. The phrase was used in the 
figurative sense as early as 1600. 
[Shakespeare, Timon of Athens, V, v, 

Dud, A : a shell that fails to burst, or any 
expected excitement which fails to 

Dudman and Ramhead meet. When : 
i.e., never. Dudman and Ramhead 
are capes on the Cornish coast. 

Dug-out, A : an underground refuge 
from shells or bombs ; a retired 
military officer recalled on the occasion 
of war to active service. 

Duke of Exeter's Daughter, The : an 
instrument of torture said to have been 
introduced by Duke of Exeter in 1447. 

Duke, The Great : the Duke of Welling- 
ton (1769-1852). 

Duke Humphrey : see Humphrey. 

Duke's Walk, To meet a person in the : 
to fight a duel. From a promenade 
frequented by the Duke of York (after- 
wards James II) in the neighbourhood 
of Holyrood Palace, where duels were 
frequently fought. 

Dukeries, The : a part of Nottingham- 
shire in which are to be found seats of 
several dukes. 

Dulcamon, A {Arab., two-homed) : a 
dilemma ; a person in a dilemma. 
[Chaucer, Troilus and Cressida, Bk. 
Ill, 11. 930-1 (14th cent.)] 

Dulcamon, To send a person to : to 
puzzle him. See Dulcamon. 

Dulce Domum {Lat., ['tis] sweet [to 
return] home) : from a school breaking- 
up song, said to have originated at 
Winchester School. 

Dulcinea, A : a sweetheart. After 
Don Quixote's mistress, Dulcinea del 



Dull as ditchwater. As : exceedingly dull. 
From the stagnancy of water in 

Dumb as a fish, As : silent. [Dekker, 
The Seuen Deadly Sinnes : Sloth 

Dumb as a stone, As : [Cursor Mundi 
(1340) ; Chaucer, House of Fame, II, 
148 (14th cent.)] 

Dumb-waiter, A : an article of dining- 
room furniture on which dishes, plates, 
etc., are placed, which in a sense 
serves the purposes of a waiter. 

Dum-dum bullet, A : a soft-nosed bullet. 
After Dum-dum, near Calcutta, India, 
where they were originally made. 

Dump, To ; Dumping : lit., to cast down 
in a disordered heap. Dumping is the 
exportation to a foreign country of 
goods in large quantities at prices less 
than they can be sold at by the foreign 
manufacturers, generally for the 
purpose of destroying the foreign 

Dumps, To be (down) in the : to be 
depressed, dejected. ' Dump ' was 
formerly a term for a melancholy 
strain in music. [Nich. Grimald, The 
Garden 1. 22 (1557)] 

Dun a person. To : to press a person for 
payment of a debt. After Joe Dunn, 
a famous bailiff in the reign of Henry 
VII. [Bacon, Apophth. (1626)] 

Dun out of the mire. To draw : to help 
a person out of a difficulty. In 
allusion to a medieval English game in 
which ' Dun ' apparently represented 
a dun-coloured horse. [Chaucer, 
Prologue to Maimciple's Tale (14th 

Dunce, A : an ignorant person ; a 
dullard. Orig. a nickname given by 
the followers of Thomas Aquinas to 
the disciples of Johannes Duns Scotus 
(c. 1265-1308), the leader of the school- 

Dunce-comb, A : an ignoramus. Ap- 
parently invented by John Taylor, 
the Water Poet (1630). 

Dundrearies : a style of wearing the 
whiskers. After Lord Dundreary, a 
character in Tom Taylor, Our Ameri- 
can Cousin (1858), as played by 
Edw. Askew Sothem. 

Dundreary, A Lord : a fop : see Dun- 
drearies. Caricaturing an English 

Dunedin : Edinburgh (in poetry). 

Dunghill, To sprinkle incense on a : see 


Dunkers, The : a sect of German-Ameri- 
can Baptists. Germ., iiinken, to dip. 

Dunmow bacon. To eat : to live together 
in conjugal amity. See Dunmow 
flitch. The. 

Dunmow Flitch, The : a flitch of bacon 
awarded annually to a married couple 
that had had no dispute during the 
preceding year. The custom was 
instituted at Great Dunmow, Essex, 
by Robert Fitzwalter in 1244. 

Dunstable, As plain as the road to : see 
Dunstable, Downright. [Heywood, 
Proverbes (1546)] 

Dunstable, Downright (Straight) : 
straightforward. The Roman road from 
London to Dunstable is proverbial for 
its flatness and straightness. [Ray, 
Proverbs (1670) ; Fuller, Worthies 

Durance vile. In : under close restraint. 
[W. Kenrick, Falstaff's Wedding 

Duresley, A man of : a liar and swindler. 
After Dursley in Gloucestershire. 

Durham mustard. As peppery as : the 
city of Durham was formerly famous 
for its mustard. 

Dust beneath one's feet. As : of no 

Dust, To bite the : (i) to be knocked over 
and fall to the ground ; (2) to humble 
oneself ; (3) to die. [Homer, Iliad, 
Bk. II, 11. 416-8; Ovid, Metamor- 
phoses, Bk. IX, 11. 59-61] 

Dust in the eyes of . . To throw : to 
mislead ; to confuse. From the 
Mohammedan practice of throwing 
dust in the air in order to mislead or 
' confound ' their enemies. [Aulus 
Gellius, Tragi-Comedy of Calisto and 
Melibaea, 11. 484-7 (15 19)] 

Dust a person's jacket. To : to thrash 
him. [Early 17th cent.] 

Dust off one's feet. To shake the : to 
leave, with a feeling of contempt. 
[Acts, xiii, 51] 

Dust, To write in : to make but a tempo- 
rary record, soon to be obliterated. 
[Sir Hy. Wotton, Elegy of a Woman's 
Heart (1602)] 

Dutch Auction, A : a method of sale 
whereby the price of an article is 
successively reduced until a purchaser 
is forthcoming. 

Dutch Bargain, A : (i) a one-sided 
bargain. From the couplet : — 
' In matters of commerce the fault of 

the Dutch 
Is giving too little and asking too much.' 

Dutch] 126 

(2) a bargain concluded by the parties 
drinking together. 

Dutch Comfort : comfort derived from 
the knowledge that affairs might be 
worse than they are. 

Dutch Concert, A : a great commotion 
and uproar, such as that made by a 
company of intoxicated Dutchmen. 

Dutch Courage : physical courage in- 
duced by intoxication. From a prac- 
tice said to have been employed by 
the Dutch in the course of their wars 
with the English in the reign ot 
Charles II. 

Dutch Defence, A : a pretended defence. 

Dutch, Double : gibberish ; unintelligible 
language. ' Dutch ' was at one time 
taken to mean ' foreign.' ' Double 
Dutch ' is therefore ' excessively 
foreign.' [Marlowe, Fausius, IV 

Dutch Feast, A : an entertainment at 
which the host gets drunk first. 

Dutch Gleek : drinking. Gleek is an old 
game. The suggestion is that the 
favourite game of the Dutch is 

Dutch Nightingales : frogs. 

Dutch, To beat the : to make a statement 
apparently incredible. Introduced in 
the course of the wars with the Dutch, 
when they gained a bad reputation in 

Dutch Treat, A : hospitality in which 
each participant pays his own ex- 

Dutch Uncle, To talk like a : to reprove 
sharply. The Dutch were reputed to 
exercise severe discipline. An uncle 
has always been considered an unsatis- 
factory substitute for a father. 

Dynamite Saturday : Jan. 24, 1885. On 
this day the Fenians attempted to 
blow up the Houses of Parliament and 
the Tower of London. 

E pur si muove {Ital., and yet it moves) : | 
the remark attributed to Galileo j 
Galilei (1564-1642), the Ital. astrono- I 
mer, said to have been made im- j 
mediately after his recantation of the j 
teaching that the earth moved round 1 
the sun, a doctrine which was deemed | 

Eagle of Brittany, The : Bertrand du 
Guexlin (1320-80), Constable of 

Eagle of Divines, The : Thomas Aquinas 
(1227-74), Ital- Scholastic theologian. 


Eagle of Means, The : Jacques B6nigne 
le Bossuet (1627-1704), Bp. of Meaux, 
orator and writer. 

Eagle of the Doctors of France, The : 
Pierre d'Ailly (1350-1425), astrologer. 

Eagle, The Theban : Pindar (518-442 
B.C.), who was partly educated at 

Eagles in one's eyes. To have : to be very 
keen-sighted. [Peter Pindar, Sir 
Joseph Banks and the Emperor of 
Morocco (c. 1794)] 

Ear, To give : to listen. {That Few 
Wordes Shew Wisdome, 11. 3-4 (1557)] 

Ear and out at the other, In at one : of a 
thing heard yet making no impression 
on the mind or memory. {Romaimt of 
the Rose (c. 1400) ; Chaucer, Troilus 
and Cressida, Bk. IV, 11. 432-4 

Ear, To turn a deaf : to refuse to listen ; 
to ignore. [Piiblilius Syrus, 123] 

Ear, To win a person's : to gain his 
favourable consideration. 

Ears of . . To tickle the : to flatter. 

Ears, To be all : to be closely attentive. 
[Milton, Comus, 1. 574 (1634)] 

Ears, To go (fall) together by the : to 
fight with fists and nails. [Rob. 
Amim, A Nest of Ninnies (1608)] 

Ears, To have long : to be inquisitive. 
[Lilly, Compaspe, III, iv (1584)] 

Ears, To hear a thing both sides of the : 
to be spoken to insistently. [Foote, 
The Author, II, i (1757)] 

Ears, To hold by the : to have securely. 
In allusion to dogs fighting. 

Ears, To listen with all one's : to listen 
most intently. 

Ears, To prick up one's : to give sudden 
and intense attention ; like a startled 
horse. [Virgil, Mneid, I, 11. 151-2 ; 
Chapman, All Fools, III, i (1605) ; 
Shakespeare, The Tempest, IV, i 

Ears, To set by the : to create discord 
between people. In allusion to a dog- 
fight. [Anth. Brewer, Lingua, IV, i 

Ears in .. Up to the : . . 
Lit., immersed up to the ears. [Shakes- 
peare, Merry Wives of Windsor 

Ear-mark, To : to mark as a means of 
identification ; to set aside for a 
definite purpose. From the practice 
of marking a sheep on the ear to show 
its ownership. 

Ear-rent : (i) the call on the patience of 
a person who has to listen to a tedious 



discourse ; (2) loss of ears in the 
Ear-shot : the distance the voice will 
carry. [Beaumont and Fletcher, 
Woman Hater, I, iii (1607)] 
Earl of Mar's Grey Breeks : the 21st 
Regt. of Foot (Royal Scots Fusiliers). 
On account of the colour of their 
breeches when under the command of 
the Earl of Mar (1678-86). 
Early bird. An : an early riser ; the first 
in the field. From the proverb : ' 'Tis 
the early bird that catches the worm.' 
Earnest money (penny) : money, orig. a 
penny, paid to seal a contract, to show 
one's good faith. 
Earthly Paradise, An : a place of delight. 
The title of a collection of poems 
(1868-71) by William Morris. The 
term had been used previously in 1844 
by A. W. Kinglake in reference to 
Damascus. [Eothen, ch. xxvii] 
East Indies and be drowned in the Thames, 
To come safe from the : to survive 
many difficulties only to succumb 
when on the point of completing one's 
Easily as a fox eats fruit, As : very easily. 

[Plautus, Mostellaria, 1. 559] 
East Indies for Kentish pippins, To send 
to the : to take on a long journey when 
a short one would serve the purpose 
equally well. 
East, The Far : the extreme eastern 
regions of the world, i.e., Japan, 
China, etc. 
East, The Middle : India, Persia, and 

their neighbouring countries. 
East, The Near : the former Western 

dominions of the Turkish Empire. 
Easterlings : the German Hanseatic 

traders in England. 
Eastern Empire, The : the Greek or the 
Byzantine Empire ; the eastern half 
of the Empire when it was divided 
into two in 364. The Eastern Empire 
comprised, at its greatest period, 
South-Eastem Europe, Western Asia, 
Northern Africa, part of Italy and the 
Eastern islands. The Eastern Empire 
came to an end with the capture of 
Constantinople by the Turks in 1453. 
Eastern Question, The : the problems of 
international politics that centred 
around the Turkish Empire before 
Eastern States, The : Maine, New Hamp- 
shire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Rhode 
Island and Connecticut, the New 
England States of the American Union. 


Easy Street, In : in easy circumstances. 

Easy, To take things : not to permit one- 
self to be worried. 

Eat a person out of house and home. To : 
to live at the expense of another so 
as to endanger his resources. [Paston 
Letters, No. 607 (1469) ; Shakespeare, 
2 Hemy IV, II, i, 80 (1597-8)] 

Eat one's cake and have it too. To : see 

Eat dirt. To : see Dirt, To eat. 

Eat its head off. To : (of an animal) to 
cost more to keep than it produces. 
[The Country Farmer's Catechism 

Eat one's heart out. To : to suffer from 
silent annoyance or vexation which it 
is beyond one's power to remove. 
[Homer, Iliad, Bk. VI, 11. 200-2 ; 
Lyly, Anatomy of Wit: Euphues and 
His Ephoebus (1579) ; Spenser, Proso- 
popoia, 11. 903-4 (1591)] 

Eat one's terms. To : to go through the 
prescribed course for the English bar- 
examinations. The course includes 
the eating of a certain number of 
dinners during certain terms in hall. 

Eat one's words. To : to withdraw one's 
words ; to retract. [Lyly, Euphues 
and His England (1580)] 

Eat the leek. To : to submit to humilia- 
tion. From the incident narrated 
in Shakespeare, Henry V, V, i, 10 

Eat the mad cow. To : to be reduced to 
extremities, so as to eat even a cow 
that has died of madness. From the 

Eatanswill : a corrupt parliamentary 
constituency. After a borough in 
Dickens, Pickwick Papers (1836) at 
which an election is held. 

Eavesdropper, An : one who listens 
secretly. Lit., one who hides under 
the eaves of a house in order to listen. 

Ebb, To be at an : to be in difficulties. 
[Heywood, Proverbes (1546)] 

Ebony, An ; A son of Ebony : a negro. 
On account of his complexion. 
Thomas Fuller (1608-61) used the ex- 
expression, ' God's image done in 

Ecce Homo ! {Lat., Behold the Man ! ) : 
a picture of Christ as presented to the 
people by Pilate. From the words of 
Pilate : ' Behold the man ! ' [John, 
xix, 5] 

Echo answers the voice. As the : as 
effect follows cause. From a Japanese 


Echo, To appland to the : to applaud so 

loudly as almost to call forth an echo. 

[Shakespeare, Macbeth, V, iii, 53 

Edio a person's opinions. To : to share or 

imitate a person's opinions. 
Echo verses : verses in which each line 

repeats the final syllables of the 

preceding one without destroying the 

Eckhardt, A faithful : a very faithful 

man. After a character in a Germ. 

Ecstatic Doctor, The : the Divine 

Doctor (q.v.). 
Eden, An : a place of delightful scenery. 

After the Garden of Adam and Eve. 

[Genesis, ii, etc.] 
Eden of Germany, The : Baden. On 

account of its splendid scenery. 
Edge of one's appetite. The : the first 

keenness of one's appetite. 
Edge off, To take : to deprive of zest. 
Edge, To set one's teeth on : to grate 

upon one. [Ezekiel, xviii, 2] 
Edge upon. To set an : to sharpen, 

intensify. [Lyly, Euphues and His 

England (1580)] 
Edge upon. Not to pat too fine an : not 

to conceal anything or subdue one's 

ardour ; to speak plainly. 
Edged tools. To play with : to amuse 

oneself with, or to employ, something 

that may cause one serious harm. 

[Ascham, The Schoolmaster, Bk. II ; 

True Tragedy of Richard III (1594)] 
Edinburgh of America, The : Albany, 

New York. On account of its mag- 
nificent buildings and situation. 
Edwin and AngeUna : a pair of lovers. 

It forms the title of a baJlad by Oliver 

Goldsmith (1764). 
Eel, An : a New-Englander. 
Eel, A salt : a rope's end. An eel's skin 

was formerly used as a lash. 
Eel by the tail. To hold an : to have a 

precarious hold over . . [Heywood, 

Proverbes (1546) ; Hy. Porter, Two 

Angry Women of Abington, 11. 2410-2 

(1599) ; Terence in English (1614)] 
Eel by the tail. To skin an : to go the 

wrong way about a business. 
Eel of science by the tail. To hold the : to 

have an elementary knowledge of a 

subject which is quickly lost. 
Eel, To get used to it like a skinned : to 

get inured to trouble or hardship. 

[Peter Pindar, Ode to Townsend (1792)] 
Ed-skins, A merchant of : a rag and bone 

collector. [Heywood, Proverbes (1562)] 

128 [Egyptian: 

Egalit6, Philippe : Philippe, Duke of 
Orleans (1747-93), who assumed the 
name on his adhesion to the French 

Egeria, An : a source of inspired wisdom. 
After Egeria, the Roman nymph who 
is said to have instructed Numa 
Pompilius, the second king of Rome. 

Egg, A bad : a person or project that 
results in disappointment ; one who is 
commercially or morally liable to sus- 
picion. After Thomas Egg, an Ameri- 
can, who, having committed crime, was 
known by his neighbours as Bad Egg. 

Egg, A Nuremberg : a watch. From 
their invention at Nuremberg, about 
1500. They were orig. egg-shaped. 

Egg dance. An : a task of extreme difiH- 
culty. Properly, a dance blindfold 
with eggs scattered around. 

Egg Feast (Saturday) : the Saturday 
before Shrove Tuesday, when the 
students of Oxford are provided with 
Pasch eggs. 

Eggs, As like as two : exactly alike. 
[Seneca, Apocolocymtosis, ch. 11 ; 
Shakespeare, Winter's Tale, I, ii 

Eggs for money. To take : to be imposed 
upon ; to be bullied into taking some- 
thing worthless at a relatively high 
price. [Shakespeare, Winter's Tale, 
I, ii, 161 (161 1)] 

Egg in a person's pocket. To break the : 
to spoil his plan. 

Egg, tl the : in embryo ; in the earliest 

Egg Saturday : see Egg Feast. 

Eggs in one basket. To put all one's : to 
risk all on one venture. [Cervantes, 
Don Quixote, ch. ix (1605)] 

Eggs is eggs. As sure as : absolutely sure. 
Perhaps a corruption of the logician's 
formula : * is ;ir. 

Eggs on the spit. To have : to have 
business in hand. 

Eggs, To teach one's grandmother to 
suck : to attempt to instruct one who 
is better informed than oneself. 

Eggs, To tread upon : to walk cautiously, 
as if eggs were on the ground. 

Egg-trot, An : a quiet trot, as if one were 
carrying eggs. 

Eglantine, As sweet as : eglantine is the 

Egyptian, An : a gypsy ; a pseudo- 
gypsy. Formerly supposed to have 
come from Egypt. 

Egyptian bondage : harsh bondage ; like 
that of the Israelites in Egypt. 


Egyptian darkness : intense darkness. 
In allusion to Exodus, x, 22. 

Egyptian Days, The : the last Monday in 
April, the second Monday in August, 
the third Monday in December. 
Specially indicated by Egyptian 

Egyptian disposition. An : a tendency to 
thieve. ' Egyptian ' as a synonym 
for gypsy. 

Egyptian Solomon, The : Rameses III 
(fl. 1219 B.C.). 

Egyptians, To spoil the : to profit at the 
expense of others, esp. enemies. 
[Exodus, xii, 36] 

Eighth Wonder, The : see Wonder. 

Eikon Basilike : a work written by a 
royal personage. It is the title of a 
devotional work, attributed to Charles 
I, but probably written by John 
Gauden, Bp. of Worcester (1605-62). 

El Dorado {Span., the golden region) : a 
land of wealth and plenty. Orig. a 
fabulous region in South America rich 
in precious metals and gems. 

Elbow, A knight of the : a gambler. 

Elbows, Out at : shabby. [Earle, 
Microcosmography : A Prison (1628)] 

Elbow-grease : energy employed in 
rubbing or cleaning ; any kind of 
energy. [Andrew Marvell, Rehearsal 
Transposed, 1 (1672)] 

Elder, To be crowned with : to be dis- 
graced. From the legend that Judas 
hanged himself on an elder-tree. 

Eldest Daughter of the Church, The : 

Elector, The Great : Frederick William, 
Elector of Brandenburg (1620-88). 

Elegant Extracts, The : the 2nd Shrop- 
shire Light Infantry, formerly the 
85th Regt. of Foot. From an incident 
in 1 81 2 when the entire staff of officers 
was changed, the new ones being 
selected from other regiments. Elegant 
Extracts is the title of a collection of 
' beauties ' of Eng. literature that had 
a wide and enduring vogue. 

Element, In one's : at one's ease ; com- 
fortable in one's surroundings. [Jos. 
Hall, Characters, Bk. I (1608)] 

Elements, The four : earth, water, air, 
fire, according to ancient and medieval 

Elephant, To change a fly into an : see 

Elephant, A white : see White. 

Eleusinian Mysteries : the Mysteries of 
Demeter, which were celebrated at 
Eleusis in Attica. 



Eleventh hour. At the : at the latest 
possible moment. [Matthew, xx, i] 

Elf-locks : tangled hair. Orig. it was 
supposed that they were entangled by 
elves, and that the straightening of 
them would cause misfortune. 

Elgin Marbles, The : the Grk. sculptures 
from the Parthenon brought to 
England by the Earl of Elgin in 1801-3. 
They comprise the finest extant 
examples of sculpture. 

Elijah's Mantle : succession to ofiice. 
From the mantle cast by Elijah over 
Elisha in order to designate him as his 
successor as prophet in Israel. 
[I Kings, xix, 19] 

EUott's Light Horse : see Eliott's Tailors. 

EUott's Tailors : the 15th Hussars. The 
regt. originated in a number of tailors 
recruited by a Colonel Eliott in 1759. 

Elixir vitae {Lat., elixir of life) : a sup- 
posititious drug long sought for by 
the alchemists of the Middle Ages ; 
it was supposed to prolong life 

Elizabeth, The spacious days (times) of : 
the illustrious period of Queen Eliza- 
beth's reign (1558-1603). 

Elizabethans, The (Great) : the company 
of great men — poets, dramatists, 
statesmen, etc., who flourished during 
the reign of Queen Elizabeth (1558- 

Elm City, The : New Haven, Connecticut. 
On account of the number of its elm- 

Eloquent Doctor, The : Peter Aureolus 
(14th cent.). Archbishop of Aix. 

Eloquent, The Old Man : (i) Isocrates 
(436-338 B.C.), Grk. orator; (2) 
William Ewart Gladstone (1809-98), 
Eng. statesman. 

Eltchi, The Great : Lord Stratford de 
Redclifie (Sir Stratford Canning) 
(1786-1880), British Ambassador to 
the Porte. Turk., elchee, ambassador. 

Eltham motion : a perpetual-motion 
machine exhibited at Eltham . Alluded 
to by Ben Jonson and others. 

Elysian Fields, The ; Elysium : a place 
of delight. After the mythical abode 
of the Blessed after death. 

Elzevir : a style of printing-type as used 
by the Elzevir family at Leyden and 
Amsterdam (i 583-1 71 2). ' Elzevir 
Editions ' of the classics v/ere at one 
time prized by book-collectors. 

Emathian Conqueror, The : Alexander 
the Great. After Emathia (Macedonia 
and Thessaly). 



Embarras de riohesse (Fr., embarrass- 
ment of riches) : an excess of wealth, 
resources. [Lord Chesterfield, Letters, 

n (1750)] 

Ember Days : four religious periods of 
fasting : early in Lent, Whitsunday, 
Holy Cross Day, St. Lucia's Day. 
Anglo-Sax., ymbren, circuit. 

Ember Weeks : the weeks in which the 
Ember Days fall. 

Emberings : the fasts of the Ember 

Embryo, In : in an early, undeveloped 
stage. [Verney Papers (1636-7)] 

Emerald Isle, The : Ireland. On account 
of the predominant greenness of the 
land . First used by William Brennaji 
(1754-1820), Irish poet, in Etin (1798). 

Emerald, To look through an : to look in 
a spirit of happiness and contentment. 
[Lyly, Ettphues and His Englavd 

Emergency man. An : one who can be 
employed in an emergency, esp. to 
assist in evictions in Ireland. 

Emigres {Fr., emigrated [ones]) : 
Royalist refugees from France during 
the period of the first Revolution. 

Empire City, The : see Empire State. 

Empire Day: May 24, the birthday of 
Queen Victoria ; a British imperial 

Empire State (City), The : New York, as 
the most important of the States and 
cities of the Union. The title was 
given to the state by George Washing- 
ton in reply to an address by the 
common council of New York City 
(Dec. 2, 1784). 

Empire State of the South, The : Georgia. 

Empress of the North, The : Edinburgh, 
so-called by Sir Walter Scott. 
[Marmion, ca. 4, st. 32 (1808)] 

Enceladas, An : a giant. After a giant 
in Grk. mythology. 

Enclave, An : a piece of territory under 
the jurisdiction of one Power sur- 
rounded by territory under the juris- 
diction of another. 

Encourager les autees. Pour (Fr., to en- 
courage the others) : from Voltaire, 
Candide (1759), in allusion to the 
shooting of Admiral Byng for his 
failure to relieve Minorca (1757). 

Encyclopeedia, A walking : see Walking. 

EncyclopsBdists, The: Diderot, d'Alem- 
bert. Voltaire, Rousseau, Montes- 
quieu, and others, who edited and 
wrote the famous French Encyclopidie 

[English ; 

End, At a loose : with no definite 

End goes forward. Not to care which : to 

be negligent or reckless. [Withal, 
Dictionarie (1608)] 

End of one's tether. To come to the : to 

reach one's limit. In allusion to a 
goat tied to a stake. 

End of the chapter. To : until the end. 

End up. To keep (hold) one's : to do one's 
part on terms of equality. 

Ends meet, To make both : to fit one's 
expenditure to one's income. 

Ends, To bum the candle at both : to 
overwork by encroaching on time that 
should be devoted to rest or recreation. 

Endymion, An : a beautiful youth. 
After Endymion of Grk. legend. 

Endymion's sleep : endless sleep. From 
the Grk. legend of Endymion, on 
whom Jupiter conferred eternal youth 
in the form of unbroken sleep. 

Enemy but his own. Nobody's : one who 
by weakness of character, while 
attempting to benefit others generally 
fails, and seldom does anything of 
advantage to himself. The phrase 
was originated by Anacharsis, the 
Scythian (fl. 592 B.C.), one of the sages 
of antiquity. 

Enemy ? How goes the : what is the 
time ? ' Time ' in the sense of the 
enemy, the destroyer, of man. 
[Dickens, Nicholas Nickleby, ch. xix 

Enemy of mankind. The : Satan. 

Elnfant de la Fortune, L' (Fr., the child 
of fortune) : Andr6 Mass6na (1756- 
181 7), Fr. marshal ; the title given to 
him by Napoleon after the battle of 
Rivoli (1807). 

Enfant gat6. An (Fr.) : a spoilt child. 

Enfant terrible, An (Fr., terrible child) : 
a person habitually getting those 
responsible for him into trouble. 

Enfants de Dieu (Fr., children of God) : 
a name assumed by the Camissards 
(Fr. Protestants) who revolted in 1702. 

England, Young : see Young. 

England's darling : Hereward the Wake 
(d. 1072), a Saxon hero. 

English Aristophanes, The : Samuel 
Foote (1722-77). After Aristophanes 
(448-385 B.C.), the famous Grk. 

English as she is spoke : colloquial 

English Attila, The : Oliver Cromwell 
(1 599-1 658). After Attila (d. 453), 
the conquering king of the "Huns. 


English Diana, The : Queen Elizabeth 
(1533-1603). After Diana, the Roman 
goddess of the chase, the moon, etc. 

English Ennius, The : Layamon (fi. 
1200). After Quintus Ennius (239- 
170 13. C), an early Roman poet. 

English Garrison, The : the landlords of 
Ireland. So-called by the Irish Land 

English Hohhema, The : John Crome, 
the elder (1769-182 1), leading painter 
of the Norwich School of landscape- 
painters. After Meindert Hobbema 
(1638-1709), the Dutch landscape- 

English Homer, The : see Homer, The 

English Justinian, The : see Justinian. 

English Juvenal, The : John Oldham 
(1653-83). After Juvenal (60-140), 
the Roman satirist. 

English Mersenne, The : John Collins 
(1625-83). After Marin Mersenne 
(1588-1648), Fr. philosopher and 

English Naples, The : Bournemouth. 

English Pale, The : see Pale. 

English Petrarch, The : Sir Philip 
Sidney (1554-86). After Francesco 
Petrarch (1304-74), the Ital. poet. 
So-called by Sir Walter Raleigh. 

English Pindar, The : (i) Abraham 
Cowley (1618-67), so-called by George, 
Duke of Buckingham (1628-87) ; 

(2) Thos. Gray (171 6-71), so-called on 
the tablet to his memory in West- 
minster Abbey. After Pindar (522- 
443 B.C.), the famous Theban lyric 

English Poussin, The : Richard Cooper 
(d. 1806). After Nicholas Poussin 
(1594-1665), the Ital. painter. 

English Rabelais, The : (i) Jonathan 
Swift (1667-1745), so-called by Vol- 
taire ; (2) Laurence Sterne (1713-68) ; 

(3) Thomas Amory (1691-1788). After 
Fran9ois Rabelais (1490-1553), the 
Fr. satirist. 

English St. Sebastian, The : St. Edmund, 
the martyr-king of East Anglia. After 
St. Sebastian (d. 288). In both cases 
the martyrdom (shooting by arrows) 
was similar. 

English Sappho, The : Mrs. Mary Darly 
Robinson (1758-1800), Eng. actress, 
novelist, and poet. After Sappho 
(fl. 611-592 B.C.), the early Grk. 

English Seneca, The : Joseph Hall (1574- 
1656), Eng. bishop and author. After 

131 [Entire 

Seneca (3 B.C. to 65 A.D.), Roman 
philosopher and statesman. 

English Solomon, The : (i) Henry VII 
( 1 45 7- 1 509) , so-called by J ohn Skelton, 
the poet, and by Lord Bacon ; (2) 
James I (1566-1625). 

English Terence, The : Richard Cumber- 
land (1732-1811). After Terence (194- 
159 B.C.), the Roman dramatist. So- 
called by Oliver Goldsmith. 

English, To get to one's : to get into a 

English Virgil, The : see Virgil. 

Englishman's castle. An : his house, into 
which by law the bailiff cannot enter 
without permission of the occupier. 
From the proverb, ' An Englishman's 
house is his castle ! ' 

Englishman's meal. The : tea. So- 
called by Mr. J. W". Lowther, Speaker 
of the House of Commons, in June, 

Enlightened Doctor, The : Raymund 
Lully, of Palma (1234-1315). 

Ennislolliners, The : the 6th Dragoon 
Guards. On account of their origin 
from among the defenders of Ennis- 
killen in 1689. 

Ennuis, The English, The French, The 
Spanish : see English, French, Spanish. 

Enoch Arden, An : a man who returns 
after a long disappearance to find his 
wife happy as the wife of another man. 
From a poem so-entitled by Alfred, 
Lord Tennyson (1864). 

Ensign, The Blue : the flag of the Royal 
Naval Reserve, 

Ensign, The Red : the flag of the British 

Ensign, The White : the flag of the Royal 
Navy and of the Royal Yacht 

Entelechy : the realization of an ideal. 
After the kingdom of Queen Quint- 
essence in Rabelais, Gargantua and 
Pantagruel (1532). 

Entente, An : a friendly understanding, 
less definite than an Alliance, between 
Powers in relation to foreign affairs. 

Entente Cordiale, The : the friendly 
understanding between England and 
France, entered into in 1905, which 
later developed into a formal Alliance. 
The friendly relations between France 
and England were first thus described 
by Louis Philippe in a speech from the 
throne in January, 1843. 

Entire : ale, as distinguished from 
' Cooper,' which is half ale and ha f 



Bn-toat-oas, An (Fr., in all cases) : a 
light umbrella serving also as a sun- 

Entre nous {Fr., between ourselves) : in 
confidence. [Christopher Anstey, 
Poetical Epistles. Letter I (1767)] 

Eparchy, An : (i) an administrative 
division in Greece ; (2) a diocese of the 
Russian Orthodox Church. 

Ephesian, An : a drunkard ; a boon 
companion. [Shakespeare, 2 Henry I V, 
II, ii (1597-8)] 

Ephesian Poet, The : Hipponax (fl. 540 
B.C.), who was bom at Ephesus. 

Ephesus, Letters of: bribes. The 
original Letters of Ephesus were 
magical writings that assured success. 

Epicure, An : one who is an expert in 
taste of food and drink. After 
Epicurus (340-270 B.C.), the Grk. 

Epicurean, An : one devoted to refined 
pleasures ; luxurious. 

Epicurus of China, The : Tao-tse (6th 
cent. B.C.). After Epicurus (342-270 
B.C.), Grk. philosopher. 

Epimenides' sleep : a lengthy sleep 
which induces wisdom. After the 
miraculous sleep of 57 years' duration 
of Epimenides, of Crete, as told by 
Diogenes Laertius, in his Lives of the 
Greek Philosophers. 

Epiphany : Jan. 6, a Church festival 
held in celebration of the appearance 
of Christ to the Wise Men of the 

Epitaph, To lie like an : from the repu- 
tation attaching to epitaphs as a class 
of exaggerating or inventing the 
virtues of their subjects. [Ben. 
Franklin, Poor Richard's Almanac 

Equality State, The : Wyoming. The 
first State in which women were 
granted the suffrage. 

EQues Auratus, An {Lat., gilded knight) : 
a knight-bachelor, who was formerly 
entitled to wear gilded armour. 

Era of Good Feeling, The : 1817 to 1824. 
in Amer. history, when there were no 
strong political divisions. The phrase 
was coined as the title of a leading 
article in the Boston Sentinel on July 
12, 1817. 
Erebus, As dark as : in mythology, 
Erebus is the place of darkness between 
earth and Hades. [Shakespeare, 
Merchant of Venice, V, i, 87 (1596)] 
ESrin : a poetical name for Ireland. 
Celtic, eri, western. 


Ermine, To wear the : to b« a judge. 
From the ermine trimmings on the 
official robes of British judges. 

Erotic School, The : the Amer. school 
of poets and novelists, Am61ie Rives, 
Edgar Saltus, Gertrude Atherton and 
others, who treat of the passion of 
love. The phrase first appeared in 
Amer. newspapers in 1888. From 
Eros, the Grk. god of Love. 

Erra Pater, An : an almanac. After a 
medieval astrologer. 

Erudite of the Romans, The most : 
Marcus Terentius Varro (116-27 B.C.), 
Roman man-of -letters. 

Erythroean Main, The : the Indian 
Ocean. Its classical name. 

Esculapian : medical. After Esculapios, 
a physician, mentioned by Homer. 

Esperanto : the name of an artificial 
universal language invented by Dr. L. 
Zamenhofi (1887) under the nom-de- 
plume of ' Dr. Esperanto.' 

Esprit d'escalier {Fr., staircase wit) : a 
happy afterthought that occurs to 
one's mind too late for useful ex- 
pression to be given to it, e.g., when 
one is already descending the staircase 
on departing from the gathering at 
which it could have been utilized. 

Esprit de corps {Fr., spirit of the body) : 
devotion of an individual to the moral 
interests of the body of which he is a 
member. [Horace Walpole, Letters, 

n (1780)] 

Esprit fort. An {Fr., a strong mind) : 
one who is superior to common preju- 
dices ; a freethinker. [Tavernier's 
Travels, II, p. 154 (1684)] 

Esses, A collar of the : see Collar of the 

Essex Junto : a political group in U.S. 
history at the end of i8th and begin- 
ning of 19th cents. After Essex 
County, Massachusetts, with which 
several of the leaders were connected. 

Essex lion. As valiant as an : timorous. 
Calf and sheep abound in Essex. A 
proverbial saying. An Essex lion is a 
calf. [Ray, Proverbs (1670)] 

Essex man (woman). An : a simpleton. 
[Killigrew, The Parson's Wedding, III, 
V (1663)] 

Essex stile. An : a ditch. On account of 
the number of marshes in Essex. 

Estate, The Fifth : see Fifth estate. 

Estate, The Fourth : see Fourth, 

Estate, The Third : see Third. 

Estates, The Four : the Lords Spiritual, 
the Lords Temporal, the Commons, 


the Press. The fourth is added 
humorously, or sarcastically. Its 
earliest use is attributed to Edmund 
Burke. See also Third Estate, Fourth 
Estate, Fifth Estate. 

Estates, The Three ; Estates of the 
Realm : the Lords Spiritual, the Lords 
Temporal, the Commons. 

Et tu. Brute {Lat., you, too, Brutus) : a 
reproof conveying a charge of base 
ingratitude. Attributed to Julius 
Caesar after Brutus had stabbed him. 
[Shakespeare, Julius CcESar, III, i 

Eternal City, The : Rome. The phrase 
in the form of ' Eternal Rome,' was 
first used in literature by Tibullus, the 
Rom. poet (54-19 B.C.). In Virgil, 
Mneid (I, 79) Rome's eternal empire is 
given by Jupiter. 

Ethiopian white. To wash the : see Wash. 

Eton Montem : see Montem. 

Ettrick Shepherd, The : James Hogg 
(i 770-1 835), the Scottish poet and 

Eucrates, More shifts than : full of shifts. 
After Eucrates, one of the archons of 
Athens, who was famous for his 

Eumsens, A Second : after Eumaeus. the 
faithful swineherd of Ulysses. 

Euphros3me, An : a happy young woman. 
After one of the three Graces, the 
goddess of Joy. 

Euphues, To spea^ (talk) : to use flowery 
language : see Euphuism. 

Euphuism : florescence of language. 
After Lyly, cultivator of a new style, in 
his works, Euphues, or the Anatomy of 
Wit (1579) and Euphues and His 
England (1580). 

Eurasia : Europe and Asia, regarded as 
one continent. 

Eurasian, A : a child of mixed European 
and Asiatic parentage. 

Eureka ! {Grk., I have found it !) : an 
exclamation of success. Attributed to 
Archimedes (287-212 B.C.), on dis- 
covering the law of specific gravity. 

Euripus, A : a dangerous fluctuation of 
afEairs. After a dangerous strait 
between Boeotia and Euboea. 

Euterpean : relating to music After 
Euterpe, the muse that presided over 

Evangelic Doctor, The : John Wycliffe 
(1324-84), precursor of the Reform- 

Evening of one's age. The : old age, esp. 
a placid one. [Bacon, Spurious 

133 [Ex 

Essays : Essay on Death (early 17th 

Ever-sworded, The : the 29th Regt. of 
Foot, now the Worcestershire Regt. 
From an instruction issued, after the 
surprise and massacre of a part of the 
regiment by the French in 1746, that 
they should always wear their swords. 

Ever-victorious Army, The : the army of 
Charles George Gordon, with which he 
suppressed the Taeping Rebellion in 

Everglad State, The : Florida. On 
account of its wide tracts of grass-land 
and water. 

Everlasting staircase. The : the treadmill. 

Evil days. Fallen on : subject to mis- 
fortune ; reduced in circumstances. 

Evil eye. The : the supposed magical 
gift of causing harm to others merely 
by looking at them. This belief is 
very widespread and of great anti- 
quity. It was prevalent among the 
Greeks and Romans and a reference 
to is to be found in The Wisdom of 

Evil Eye, An : a harmful glance ; a look 
of hatred. [Matthew, xx, 15.] 

Evil genius. An : one who influences 
another for evil. Properly, the evil 
one of the two spirits — the other one 
is the good — which are supposed to 
accompany everyone through life. 

Evil May Day : Mayday. 15 17, when the 
London Apprentices attacked the 
foreign residents. 

Evil principle. The : the devil. 

Evovae : an abbreviation of the last two 
words of the doxology sEcUlOrUm- 
AmEn to be found in Latin psalters. 

Ewe-lamb, A : an unique and much 
prized possession. [II Samuel, xii, 

Ewig-weibliche, Das {Germ., the eternal 
feminine) : [Goethe, Faust, Pt. II, v] 

Ex cathedra {Lat., from the chair) : 
(speaking) with authority. The ' chair ' 
is the throne of the Pope. 

Ex libris. An {Lat., from the books) : a 

Ex luce lucellum {Lat., out of a light a 
little gain) : motto suggested by 
Robert Lowe, Lord Sherbrooke 
(181 1-92), on the occasion of his 
abortive proposals tor a tax on matches 

Ex officio {Lat., by virtue of ofiice). 

[More, Apology (i533)] 
Ex oriente lux {Lot., light from the 



Ez parte (Lat., out of a part) : one-sided ; 
partisan. Orig. a legal terra. [A. C, 
Answer to a Letter of a Jesuiied 
Gentleman, p. 4 (1601)] 

Ez pede Heroulem (Herclem) (Lai., from 
the foot, Hercules) : judgment by 
sample. From the legend that 
Pythagoras calculated the height of 
Hercules by comparison of the length 
of the Hercules stadium at Olympia 
with that of an ordinary stadium. 

Ez post facto (Lat., from after the deed) : 
of a law adopted to deal with an 
offence eilready committed ; of a con- 
clusion arrived at theoretically after 
the result is known. 

Ez ano omnes {Lat., from one, all) : of a 
general inference drawn from a solitary 
example. [Virgil, ^neid, Bk. II, 
11. 65-6] 

Ez voto (Lat., from a vow) : of a thank- 
offering made in fulfilment of a vow. 

Ezalt one's horn. To : to offer resistance. 
From the biblical sense of ' horn ' as 
a symbol of power or means of defence. 
[Psalms, Ixxv, 5, 10] 

Ezcalibnr, An : a trusty sword. After 
the magical sword of King Arthur. 

Ezcelsior State, The : New York. On 
account of its motto ' Excelsior ' 

Ezchange wench. An : a woman who 
kept a stall at an Exchange. The 
reputation of this class of women was 

Ezclusionists, The : the supporters of the 
Bill to exclude the Duke of York, 
afterwards James II, from the English 

Ezellers, The : the 40th Regt. of Foot. 
From the Roman numerals XL (forty). 

Ezeter Hall: the Evangelical Party in 
the Church of England. After the 
former locale in London of their May 
Meetings (q.v.). 

Ezeter Hall, The Bray of : the opposition 
of the Evangelical Party to the May- 
nooth College Endowment. From a 
speech by Lord Macaulay in the 
House of Commons, April, 1845. 

Ezeter's Daughter, The Duke of: see Duke. 

Extinct volcano. An : a person who has 
lost his former power or force. 

Eztinguish the fire. To take oil to : see 

Eztol to the skies. To : to praise 

Eztra pull. An : an advantage. A drink- 
ing metaphor from the extra pull at 
the handle of the beer machine. 



Eye for an eye and tooth for a tooth : the 

law of retaliation. [Exodus, xxi, 24] 
Eye of a needle. To put a rope to an : 

see Put. 
Eye of day. The : (i) the Sun ; (2) the 

daisy, which opens with the sun. 

[Chaucer, Legende of Good Women, 

Prologue, 11. 182-5 (14th cent.)] 
Eye of Greece, The : (i) Corinth ; 

(2) Athens. See Eyes of Greece. 
Eye of heaven. The : the sun. [Spenser, 

Faerie Queen, I, iii, 4 (1590-6)] See 

also Eyes of heaven. 
Eye of the Baltic, The : Gottland. 
Eye of the night. The : the moon. 

[Pindar, Odes : Olympia, III, 33-6 ; 

Rich. Glover, Leonidas. Bk. Ill (1737)] 
Eye of the Storm, The : an opening 

between storm-clouds. 
Eye of the World, The : (i) literature ; 

so-called by Carlyle ; (2) the sun. 
Eye of . . To catch the : to attract the 

attention of . . [The Spectator, No. 224 

Eye on . . To keep an : to keep under 

Eye parley : communication by means 

of interchange of looks. 
Eye, The apple of one's : see Apple. 
Eye to eye. To see : to be in perfect 

Eye, To see with half an : of something 

that is obvious. [Northbrooke, Treatise 

against Dicing (1577)] 
Eye to the main chance. To have an : 

to keep one's own advantage always 

before one. A dicing metaphor. 

[Lyly, Euphues : Anatomy of Wit 

(1579) ; Rob. Wilson, Three Ladies of 

London, II, 1. 1253 (1584)] 
Eye upon . . To have (keep) an : to keep 

under one's observation. [Dryden, 

Sir Martin Marr-all, IV, i (1668)] 
Eyes and ears of an army. The : the 

Eyes and ears of the State, The : the 

ambassadors. So-called by Sansovino. 

[Concetti Politici, 276] 
Eyes at a person. To make : to ogle ; to 

look lovingly at a person. 
Eyes at the back of one's head. To have : 

to be mentally very alert. [ApostolUus, 

Proverbia, xii, 94] 
Eyes in . . Up to one's : immersed in ; 

fully engaged in. 
Eyes of a fleet. The : (i) cruisers ; 

(2) airships. 
Eyes of Greece, The : Athens and Sparta. 

[Milton, Paradise Regained, IV, 240 

(1671)] See also Eye of Greece. 


Eyes of heaven (night). The : the stars. 

[Shakespeare, Hamlet, II, ii, 540 

(1602-3)] See also Eye of heaven. 
Eyes of the world. In the : in public 

Eyes open. To have (keep) one's : to be 

wideawake, fully alert. 
Eyes open. To sleep with one's : to be 

always on the qui vive. [Lyly, 

Euphues and His England (1580)] 
Eyes, The Almond : the Chinese. From 

the shape of their eyes. 
Eyes, The King's : the principal officers 

of the state. 
Eyes to draw straws. To have : to be 

nearly asleep ; from the appearance 

of candlelight through eyelids almost 

Eyes to the blind : a staff. In allusion 

to the staff given by Athena to 

Tiresias in place of the eyes of which 

she had deprived him. 
Eyes to . . To close one's : to refuse to 

see or acknowledge . . [The History 

of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark, ch. 3 

Eye-opener, An : that which suddenly 

casts light on something hitherto 

concealed, or indefinite ; a surprise. 
Eye-sore, An : that which offends the 

eye. [Lyly, Euphues and His 

England (1580)] 
Eye-teeth, To cut one's : to pass out of 

Eye-teeth, To draw a person's : to 

moderate his self-confidence. 
Eye-teeth, To have one's : to be well 

awake to current events and their 

Eye-wash : means of deceit ; ' bunkum.' 

F, To be branded on the forehead with an : 

to have the appearance of a rogue. 
From the letter F (felon) at one time 
branded on convicted criminals who 
had obtained the Benefit of Clergy 

P's The three : Fair rents. Fixity of 
tenure, and Free sale. An Eng. 
political claim (1880-90) for agricul- 

Fabian, A : a member of the Fabian 
Society, founded in 1884 for the 
promulgation of socialist ideas. After 
Quintus Fabius Maximus, a Roman 
General (275-203 B.C.), whose delaying 
tactics, avoiding battle while harass- 
ing the enemy, earned him the cogno- 
men ' Cunctator ' (the ' Delayer.'), 

135 [Faces 

Fabian tactics : delaying tactics. After 
those adopted by the Roman General 
Quintus Fabius Maximus (275-203 
B.C.) in his battles with the 

Fabius, The American : George Washing- 
ton (1732-99). 

Fabius, The French : Anne, Due de 
Montmorency, Constable of France 

Fabricius, As simple (contented) as : very 
honest and frank. After Fabricius 
Luscinus Caius (fl. 285-278 B.C.), 
Roman Consul and General, famous for 
his incorruptibility. 

Face against. To set one's : to oppose. 
In allusion to the expression of one's 
face when determined on opposition. 

Face it with a card of ten. To : to adopt 
an impudent demeanour. Apparently 
a metaphor derived from a card-game. 
A card of ten was a tenth card. [Ben 
Jonson, The New Inne, I, iii (1631) ; 
Shakespeare, Taming of the Shrew 

Face of Europe, To change the : to alter 
the boundaries of the European states. 

Face of it. On the : apparently. 

Face out a thing. To : to carry oneself 
through a difficult situation by means 
of effrontery. [Wever, Lusty 

Juventus, 1. 683 (1560)] 

Face the music. To : to appear before 
one's judges, usually the public, and 
explain one's actions. Four possible 
derivations have been suggested. From 
(i) the actor, who in facing the music 
faces the public, his critics ; (2) the 
difficulty in training army-horses to 
remain quiet in the company of a 
regimental band ; (3) the drumming- 
out of men dismissed by the U.S. 
army; (4) the muster of militia men 
who are drawn up in ranks facing the 

Face to face : in the presence of one 
another. [Marriage of Wit and 
Science, II, ii (1570)] 

Face, To pull a long : to look discon- 
tented or disappointed. [Peter 
Pindar, Exposiulatory Odes, Ode xv 

Face to . . To have the : to have the 
impudence to . . [1600] 

Pace, To show one's : to put in an 

Face upon . . To put a good : to make the 
best of . . [He3rwood, Proverbes 

Faces, To make : to pull grimaces. 

Faces] 136 

Faces under one hood. To keep two : to 

be deceitful or double-faced. [Hey- 
wood, Proverbes (1546)] 
Facer, A : a situation, or a problem, 
almost hopeless of solution. From a 
' facer,' a blow in the face, in the slang 
of the Ring. 
Fadle princeps {Lat., easily first) : 

[Cicero, De Divinatione, II, 42] 
Fadlis descensus Avemi {Lat., the descent 
of the Avernus is easy) : it is easy to 
degenerate or fall. From Virgil, 
JEneid, vi, 126. Avernus, a lake in 
Italy, was supposed to be the entrance 
to Hades. 
Facing-both-ways, Mr. : an insincere 
man who pretends agreement with 
both parties. After a chairacter in 
Bunyan, Pilgrim's Progress (1678). 
Facings, To put one through his : to call 
to account ; to examine searchingly. 
A military-drill metaphor. 
Facon de parler {Fr., manner of speak- 
ing) : customary mode of speech. 
Factotum, A : one who performs a 
variety of services for another. From 
' Dominus fac totum . . ' (Lord, do 
everything . . ). [Greene, Groat's 
Worth of Wit (1592)] 
Fad, A : a personal (generally unconven- 
tional) view or pursuit of little conse- 
quence to which one devotes exagger- 
ated importance ; a hobby. 
Faddist, A : a person possessed by, or 

possessing, a fad {q.v.). 
Fag end of . . The : the very last portion 
of . . A contraction of ' fatigued ' 
(spent) end. [Rob. Tailor, The Hog 
Hath Lost His Pearl, I, i (1614)] 
Faggot : see also Fagot. 
Faggot stitch, A : a fancy stitch in 

needlework in imitation of a faggot. 
Fagin, A : a trainer of young thieves and 
receiver of their stolen articles. After 
a character in Dickens, Oliver Twist 
Fagot (Faggot), A deceitful : a term of 

abuse applied to a woman. 
Fagot (Faggot) vote : a qualification for 
the franchise specially created by the 
division of one quaUfying property into 
several smaller ones. In i8th cent, a 
person hired to fill a vacancy in a 
regiment or muster was termed a 
' fagot.' 
Fain6ant, Le Roi {Fr., King Do-nothing) : 
the occupant of an office who leaves 
all the power and responsibiUty to 
another. The Rois Fain6ants of 
history wer* Clovis II of Neustria 


(d. 656) and his ten successors ; they 
left the government to the Mayors of 
the Palace, who ultimately usurped 
the throne. 

Faint-hearted, To be : to be easily dis- 
couraged. [Marlowe, Tamburlaine, 
Pt. II (1590)] 

Fair and square : straightforward. [Fr. 
Bacon, Proph. 443 (1604)] 

Fair City, The : Perth. On account of 
its beautiful situation. 

Fair day's work, A : a full day's work. 
[John Still, Gammer Gorton's Needle, 
I, iii (1566)] 

Fair game : see Game (Fair). 

Fair Maid of February, The : the snow- 
drop, which blooms in February. 

Fair Maid of Kent, The : Joan Plan- 
tagenet, daughter of the Earl of Kent. 

Fair Maid of Norway, The : Margaret, 
daughter of Eric II of Norway, and 
heiress to the crown of Scotland 
(d. 1290). 

Fair play : just behaviour as between 
competitors or enemies. 

Fair Quakeress, The : Hannah Light- 
foot, wife of George III before his 
accession to the throne. 

Fair sex. The : the female sex. Fr., le 
beau sexe. [Dryden, Preface to Wm. 
Walsh, Dialogue Concerning Women 

Fair trade : (i) smuggling [i8th cent.] ; 
(2) the protection of home-trade by the 
imposition of import duties. 

Fairest jewel in the Imperial Crown, The : 

Fair-weather friends : supposed friends 
who desert one in time of trouble. 

Fairy ring (circle), A : a circular mark in 
the grass, popularly supposed to be 
causal by the night siancing of fairies ; 
really due to the growth of fungi. 

Fait accompli, A {Fr., accomplished 
fact) : [De Quincey, On Murder 
Considered as a Fine Art (1827)] 

Fake, To : to disguise, or alter, with a 
fraudulent intention. Orig. thieves' 
slang. From Germ., fegen, to clean, 
to sweep ; or from Fakir {q.v.). 

Fakir ; Fakeer, A {Arab., poor man) : 

an Oriental begging monk. 
Falk Laws : Prussian anti-Catholic legis- 
lation, adopted between 1872 and 1879 
at the instance of Paul Falk (1827- 
Fall, The : the autumn ; the period of 
the year in which the leaves fall. An 
Amer. revival of an Eng. meaning of 
th« word which had become obsolete. 


Fall foul of . . To : to quarrel with . . 
A nautical metaphor. [Newes from 
Sea (1616)] 

Fall of the leaf, The : the autumn. See 
Fall, The. 

Fall into line with . . To : to agree 
with . . ; to agree to follow the same 
course as . . 

Fall, To ride for a : see Ride. 

Fall to the ground. To : to fail. 

Fall upon one's feet. To : to escape from 
trouble with the assistance of good- 

Fall with . . To try a : to enter into a 
contest with . . A wrestling metaphor. 

Falls City : Louisville, Kentucky, which 
overlooks the falls of the Ohio River. 

Fallen woman, A : a woman who has 
fallen, or descended from the level of 

Falling sickness. The : epilepsy. [Look 
about you, I, ii (1600)] 

False as a fox. As : utterly false. [Mont- 
gommery, Cherry and Slae (1597)] 

False as a Greek, As : see Graeca Fides. 

False as God is true. As : utterly false. 
[Heywood, Proverbes (1546)] 

False as hell. As : utterly false. [Shakes- 
peare, Othello, IV, ii, 40 (1604)] 

False as the wind. As : utterly false. 
The instability of the wind has from 
early times made it a symbol for 

False as Waghorn, As : utterly false. 
Waghom, according to a Scottish 
proverb, was nineteen times falser than 
the devil and was crowned King of 

False Colours : see Colours. 

Falstaff, A : a self-indulgent, free-liv- 
ing, jolly, elderly man. After a 
character in Shakespeare, Henry IV 
(1596-8) and Merry Wives of Windsor 

Familiar, A : (i) a servant of the Holy 
Inquisition ; (2) an assistant to a 

FamiUar spirits : demons supposed to be 
in close connection with man. 

Familist, A : a member of a Dutch 
religious sect, ' The Family of Love,' 
wliich taught love for all people. 
Founded by David George (d. 1556). 

Family circle. The : the family at home. 

' Circle ' refers to the Norman period, 

when the fire was in the centre of the 


Family man, A : a man of domestic 

Family of Love : see Familist. 

137 [Fash 

Fan with a feather. To : to employ 
wholly inefficient means to achieve 
one's end. From an ancient Grk. 

Fancy, The : pugilists ; the prize-ring. 
From ' fancy ' as the equivalent of 
' sports.' 

Fancy Franchise, A : an out-of-the- 
ordinary qualification for a vote, such 
as an educational standard, the 
number of one's family, etc. 

Fancy price, A : a price far above the 
intrinsic value. 

Fancy-free : not yet affected by the 
sentiment of love ; not yet engaged to 
be married. 

Fandango, A : a Spanish and Spanish- 
American dance ; probably of negro 

Fanfaron ; Fanfaronade : a boaster ; 
boasting. One who behaves as if 
announced by a fanfare of trumpets. 
Span., fanfarron, a bully. 

Fantee, To go ; to relapse into barbarism. 

Fantique (Fantigue), To be in a : to be 
anxious or excited. [Geo. Colman, 
jun., Sylvester Daggerivood, II (1795)] 

Far and away : very much. [Heywood, 
Proverbes (1546)] 

Far-fetched : (of an argument, story, 
etc.) scarcely credible. Lit., fetched 
from afar. [Greene, Selimus, Pt. I, 
1. 306 (1594)] 

Fare, A : (i) a person conveyed ; (2) 
the price charged for conveying him. 
[(i) Thos. Kyd, Jeronimo, Pt. I (1591)] 

Farmer George : George III. On account 
of his dress and habits, and also of the 
profits he made out of farming at 

Farmer's Alliance, The : an American 
political association (1873-91), formed 
to watch over the interests of agri- 
culturists ; ultimately merged in the 
People's Party. 

Faro : a gambling card-game. Pharoah's 
effigy is said once to have been borne 
by one of the cards. 

Farrago of nonsense, A : a medley of 
humorous anecdotes, etc. ; a nonsensi- 
cal tale. Lat., farrago, a mixture or 

Farrant-like, Auld : see Auld. 

Fasces : authority. From the name of 
the bundle of rods surrounding an axe 
carried before the superior magistrates 
in Rome as an emblem of their 

Fash one's beard. To : to take trouble. 
' Fash,' to alilict. 


Fast and loose with . . To play : to act 

in a reckless, usually dishonest, way 
with . . Two derivations are possible : 
(i) from a i6th-cent. cheating game, 
mentioned by Shakespeare, l3rayton' 
and others ; (2) from the idea of 
treating a person as ' fast ' to one 
when he is of use and as ' loose ' when 
he is no longer so. [Lyly, Euphues 
and His England (1580)] 

Fast as a Kentish oyster. As : hermetic- 
ally sealed. Kentish oysters are 
proverbially good and consequently 
fast closed. [Greene, Tu Qitoque, 
11. 3008-10 (1614)] 

Fast as one's legs can carry one. As : 
very quickly. 

Fastern's E'en : Shrove Tuesday ; the 
eve of the fast of Lent. A Scotticism. 

Fastingong : Shrove Tuesday. 

Fat and drink the sweet. To eat the : to 
feast. [Nehemiah, viii. 10] 

Fat from one's lips. To lick the : to 
deprive one of his living ; to take the 
bread out of one's mouth. [Rich. 
Edwards, Damon and Pithias, 1. 178 

Fat to be in the fire. The : all the ingredi- 
ents for a noisy quarrel to be now 
ready. A cooking metaphor. [Hey- 
wood, Proverbes (1546)] 

Fat of the land. To live on the : to have 
every luxury at one's call. [Earle, 
Microcosmography : A Cooke (1628)] 

Fat as a porpoise. As : [Swift, Polite 
Conversation, 294 (1731)] 

Fata Morgana, A [Ital., Fairy Morgana) : 
an atmospheric phenomenon whereby 
distant objects become inverted, or 
distorted. The Fairy Morgana, 
according to medieval romance, was 
the sister of King Arthur. 

Fatal Sisters, The : the Fates {q.v.). 
[Arth. Brooke, Tragical History of 
Romeus and Juliet (1562)] 

Fates, The : Clotho, the spinner of the 
thread of life ; Lachesis, the disposer 
of lots, who fixed its length ; and 
Atropos, who severs the thread of life. 

Father Abraham : Abraham Lincoln (1809-65), 
President of the United States. 

Father Adam : Adam, the first man, the father of 

Father Neptnne : the ocean. After Neptune, the 
Roman god of the seas. 

Father Nile : the Nile, personified. 

Father 0! a 'chapel,' : see Chapel. 

Father 0! America, The : Samuel Adams (1722-1803), 
Aiuerican statesman and revolutionist. 

Father of AnKling, The : Izaak Walton (1593-1683)- 

Father 0! Believers, The : Mahomet. 

Father of Botany, The : Joseph Pittou de Toumctort 
(1656-1/08), Fr. botanist. 



Father of British inland NaTigation, The : Francis 

Egerton, Duke of Dridgewater (1736-1803), who 

planned and financed the Bridgewater Canal 

Father 0! Easiness efficiency. The : Frederick 

Winslow Taylor (d. 1915). 
Father of Chemistry. The : Amauld de Villeneuve 

Father of Comedy, The : Aristophanes (448-385 

Father of Dutch Poetry, The : Jakob Maerlant (1235- 

Father of Ecclesiastical (Chorch) History, The : 

Euscbius of Cassarea (264-349). 
Father of English Botany, The : William Turner 

Father of English Cathedral Mnsic, The : Thomas 

Tallis (1510-85). 
Father of English Poetry, The : Geoffrey Chaucer 

Father of English Printing, The : see Printing. 
Father of English Prose, The : (1) WycliSe (1324- 

84) ; (2) Roger Ascham (1515-68). 
Father of Epic Poetry, The : Homer (loth cent. B.C.). 
Father of Equity, The : Heneage Finch, Earl of 

Nottingham (1621-82), Lord Chancellor. 
Father of French Drama, The : Etienne Jodelle 

Father of French History, The : Andr6 Duchesne 

Father of French Prose, The : Geoffroi de Ville- 

hardouin (1167-1212). 
Father of French Satire, The : Mathurin Regnier 

Father of French Sculpture, The : see Sculpture. 
Father of French Surgery, The : see Surgery. 
Father of French Tragedy, The : (i) Rob. Gamier 

(1545-1600) ; (2) Pierre Comeille (1606--84). 
Father of Geology, The : (i) Avicenna (980-1037), 

Arabic scientist; (2) Nicolas Steno (1631-87), 

Danish-Italian geologist ; (3) Wm. Smith (1769- 

Father of German Literature, The : Gotthold 

Ephraim Lessing (1729-81). 
Father of Good Works, The : the Sultan Mahomet II 

Father of Greek Drama, The : (1) i&chylus (525- 

456 B.C.) ; (2) Thespis (fl. 535 B.C.). 
Father of Greek Music, The : Terpander (fl. 676 B.C.). 
Father of Greek Prose. The : Herodotus (c. 484-424 

Father of Greek Tragedy, The : ^Cschylus (525-456 

Father of his Country, The : a title borne by many 

patriots throughout the course of history. The 

first was Cicero, on whom it was conferred by 

Father of His People, The : (t) Louis XII of France 

(1462-1515) ; (2) Christian III of Denmark 

(1503-59). See also Father of the People. 
Father of Historic Painting, The : Polygnotos of 

Thaos (fl. 463-435 B.C.). 
Father of History, The : Herodotus (484-408 B.C.). 

So-called by Cicero. 
Father of Iambic Verse, The : Archilochus of Pares 

(fl. 700 B.C.). 
Father of Inductive Philosophy, The : Francis 

Bacon, Lord Verulam (1561-1626). 
Father of International Law, The : Hugo Grotius 

(1583-1645), Dutch jurist, 
ither of Italian Prose, The : Boccaccio (i3i3-75)- 

Joseph Miller (1684-1738), 


Father 0! Jests. The ; 

English wit. 
Father of Jurisprudence, The : Ranulph de Glanville 

(d. 1 190), author of Tractatus de Legibus et 

Consuetudtnibus Angliae (1181). 
Father of Landscape Gardening, The : Andr£ LenOtre 

(1613-1700), I'lincli architect and -landscape 



Father of Letters, The : Francis I of France (1494- 

1547), a patron of literature. 
Father of Lies, The : Satan. [John, viii, 44]. 
Father of Medicine, The : (i) Aretaeos of Cappado- 

cia ; (fl. 70) ; (2) Hippocrates of Cos (460-357 

Father of Modem Oil Painting, The : Jan van Eyck 

(1385-1440), Flemish painter. 
Father of Modern Prose Fiction, The : Daniel Defoe 

Father of Modem Scepticism. The : Pierre Bayle 

(1647-1706), philosopher. 
Father of Moral Philosophy, The : Thomas Aquinas 

(1227-74), Italian Scholastic theologian. 
Father of Music, The : Giovanni Pierluigi da 

Palestrina (1525-94), Italian composer. 
Father of Musicians, The : Jubal. [Genesis, iv, 21] 
Father of Navigation, The : Don Henrique, Duke of 

Viseo (1394-1460), one of the greatest of Portu- 
guese travellers. 
Father of Ornithology, The : George Edwards (1693- 

Father of Orthodoxy, The : Athanasius, Bp. of 

Alexandria (293-373). 
Father of Parody, The : Hipponax CSth cent. B.C.), 

Grk. iambic poet. 
Father of Peace, The : Andrea Doria (1466-1560), 

Genoese admiral and condottiere. Title given to 

him by the Senate of Genoa. 
Father of Philosophy, The: (i) Roger Bacon 

(1214-94), Eng. philosopher and scholar; (2) 

Albrecht von Haller (1708-77), Swiss physiologist, 

anatomist, botanist and poet. 
Father of Poetry, The : (i) Orpheus, a semi-legendary 

Grk. poet ; (2) Homer. 
Father of Reform, The: John Cartwright (1740- 

1824), Eng. radical politician and publicist. 
Father of Ridicule, The : Francois Rabelais (1490- 

i.'iSS). Fr. satirist. 
Father of Rivers, The : (i) the River Apidanus in 

Tbessaly, so-called by Euripides in Hecuba 

(II. 446-52) ; (2) the River Lydias in Macedonia, 

so-called by Euripides in Baccher (11. 571-5)- 
Father of Roman Philosophy, The ; Cicero (106-43 

Father of Roman Satire, The : Caius Lucilius (180- 

103 B.C.). 
Father of Satire, The : Archilochus of Paros (700 B.C.) . 
Father of Scotch Landscape Painting, The : John 

Thomson, of Duddington (1778-1840). 
Father of Swedish Eloquence, The : Nordenhjelm. 
Father of Symphony, The : see Symphony. 
Father of the Church, A : one of the writers cf the 

Early Cnurch, whose teachings are accepted as 

Father of the Faithfnl, The : the Patriarch Abraham. 

[Romans, iv]. 
Father of the House of Commons, The : the living 

member who has sat there continuously for the 

longest period. 
Father of the Human Race, The : Adam. 
Father of the People, The : (i) a title assumed by 

the Absolutist kings of Denmark ; (2) Gabriel du 

Pineau (1573-1644), Fr. lawyer. See also Father 

of his People. 
Father of the Potteries, The : see Potteries. 
Father of the Spanish Drama, The : Lope Felix de 

Vega Carpio (1562-1635). 
Father of the Vaudeville, The : see Vaudeville. 
Father of Tragedy, The : (1) ^Eschyius {525-456 

B.C.) ; (2) Thespis (fl. 535 B.C.). 
Father of Waters, The : (i) the Irrawaddy ; (2) the 

Mississippi • (3) the Nile, so-called by Samuel 

Johnson in Rasseias (1759). 
Father on a person. To : to impute to a person. 
Father Thames : the River Thames. 
Father, The Little: see Little Father. 
Father, The Thoughtful : Nicholas Catinat (1637- 

i/i-j, Marshal of France. So called by his 


139 [Faye 

Father Tiber : the River Tiber, personified. 

Father Time : time, personified ; generally depicted 
as an old man with a scythe. 

Fathers of Christian Doctrine The Founder of the : 
CsBsar de Bus (i 544-1 607). 

Fathers of the Church, The : (i) the Apostolic Fathers, 
contemporaries of the Apostles, viz., Clement of 
Rome, Barnabas, Hermas, Ignatius and Poly- 
carp ; (2) the Primitive Fathers, who lived in the 
first three centuiies of the Christian era, viz., 
Justin, Theophilus of Antiocb, Irenaeus, Clement 
of Alexandria, Cyprian of Carthage, Origen, 
Gregory Thaumaturgus, Dionysius of Alex- 
andria, Tertullian ; (3) see Fathers of the Greek 

Fathers of the Greek Church, The : Eusebius, 
Athanasius, Basil the Great, Gregory Nazian- 
zenus, Gregory of Nyssa, Cjrril of Jerusalem, 
Chrysostom, Epiphanius, Cyril of Alexandria, and 
Ephraira of Edessa. 

Fathers of the Latin Church, The : Origen, Tertullian, 
Clement of Rome, Ignatius, Justin, Irenaeus, 
Cyprian, Hilary of Poitiers, Ambrose, Optatus, 
Jerome, Augustine, Leo the Great, Prosper, 
Vincent of Lerins, Peter Chrysologus, Casarius of 
Aries, Gregory the Great, Isidore of Seville, Bede, 
Peter Damian, Anselm, Bernard. 

Father's son, To be one's : to resemble one's father, 
morally or physically. [Thos. Lodge, Wounds of 
Civil War, V, i, 11. 2213-4 (i594)] 

Fathers, The Last of the : see Last of the Fathers. 

Fatted Calf for . . To kill the : to welcome 
back one who has absented himself 
and returns to his old relationships 
and environment. From the parable 
of The Prodigal Son {Luke, xv, 30). 

Fauna : the animals of any given region 
or period. After Fauna, a nymph of 
the Liris, near Mintumae, and the 
sister and wife of Faunus, a mythical 
Ital. king, afterwards deified, repre- 
sented as a Satyr and identified with 

Faontleroy, Little Lord : see Little. 

Faute de mieoz {Fr., for lack of some- 
thing better) : [Lord Chesterfield, 
Letters, II, No. 175 (1766)] 

Fauteuil, The {Fr., armchair) : sym- 
bolizing membership of the French 

Faux pas, A {Fr., false step) : a wrong 
move, leading to an awkward, or un- 
pleasant, situation ; a slip. [Wycher- 
ley. Plain Dealer, V (1676)] 

Favonius : the West Wind, in Roman 

Favour, To curry : to seek diligently 
for approval or favourable notice. 
[Lyly, Euphues and His England 

Favourite son, A : a politician respected 
or admired in his own State, but not 
much regarded outside it. 

Faye, The way to : a crooked path. After 
the road which leads to the village of 
Faye in France. 




Fear Babes : a bugbear. Used for 

frightening children. 

Feast one's eyes on . . To : to gaze with 
pleasure or longing on . . 

Feast of Fools, The : a burlesque Church 
festival celebrated in the Middle Ages 
on New Year's Day. 

Feast of Reason, A : the intercourse of 
wits and wise men. [Pope, Imitations 
of Horace, II, i (1733-7)] 

Feastings Even : properly, Fastem's 
E'en {q.v.). 

Feather, An oiled : friendliness of manner 
and address. Metaphor drawn from 
the trade of a locksmith who uses an 
oiled feather to persuade a stubborn 

Feather, Birds of a : people of similar 
character, habit, or taste. From the 
proverb, ' Birds of a feather flock 

Feather, In fall (grand ; high ; fine) : 
in excellent condition. Metaphor 
drawn from bird-life. 

Feather in one's wing. The : the most 
valuable of one's belongings, e.g., 
children. [R. Cumberland, The 
Fashionable Lover, II (1772)] 

Feather in the cap. To have a : to have 
scored a success. From the world- 
wide practice of inserting in one's head- 
dress a feather for every enemy slain, 
or other exploit. 

Feather, Not to care a : not to care at all. 
[Sheridan, School for Scandal, III, iii 


Feather one's nest. To : to make full 
provision for one's material future. 
Metaphor drawn from bird -life. [J as. 
Howell, Familiar Letters, Bk. Ill, 
Letter xvii (1647) ; Greene, Frances- 
co's Fortunes (1590)] 

Feather, To fan with a : see Fan. 

Feather, To knock down with a : so to 
surprise a person as to take him com- 
pletely off his guard. 

Feather, To show the white : to display 
cowardice. In allusion to the fact 
that a white feather in a game-bird's 
tail is a mark of impure strain. 

Feather-bed publicist (etc.)< A : a 
publicist (etc.) who, from a position 
of comfort, criticizes those who are 
undergoing hardships. 

Feather-brained (-headed) : foolish ; 
silly. With brains metaphorically as 
light as a feather. 

Feather-heads, The : the Republican 
supporters of President Garfield in 
New York State in his efforts for the 

reform of the Civil Service. Also 
called ' Half-breeds. ' 

February face, A : a face that betokens 
worry or depression. 

February, On the 30th of: i.e., never. 

February Fill-dyke : a popular name for 
the month of February, referring to 
the prevalence of rain or snow. 

Federalists ; Federals : supporters of 
the Northern States in the American 
Civil War (1861-5). An earlier 
American political party of the same 
name flourished from 1787 until about 
181 2 : it was formed to support the 
Federal Constitution. 

Feed the fishes. To : see Fishes. 

Feet of . . At the : devoted to . . ; as if 
kneeling at the feet of . . 

Feet, To carry a person off his : to carry 
a person away with enthusiasm or 
excitement, so that he is temporarily 
free from the guidance of reason. 

Feet, To fall (light) on one's : to achieve 
a successful end in spite of difficulties, 
usually with some assistance from 

Feet, To have at one's : to have sub- 
servient to one. 

Feet, To set a person on his : to establish 
him, to enable him to start afresh. 
From the idea of raising a who 
has fallen down. [Geo. Cavendish, 
Life and Death of Wolsey (1557)] 

Feet, To stand on one's own : to be 
independent of the assistance of 
others. [Jos. Hall, Characters : A 
Happy Man (1608)] 

Fehmic Court : see Vehmgericht. 

F61ibrige : a literary society, founded in 
1854, to preserve the Proven <;al 
language and literature. Lat., Filii 
Ecclesiae, sons of the Church. 

Fell, Doctor : see Doctor Fell. 

Fellowship Porter, A : a member of the 
Fellowship of Porters of Billingsgate, 
one of the City of London Guilds. 

Fellowship with . . To make a : to band 
together with others for mutual assis- 

Felo de se {Low-Lat., a felon from him- 
self) : a suicide. 

Fen nightingale, A : a frog. It ' sings ' 
in the fens. 

Fence, To sit on the : to adopt such an 
attitude as commits one to neither 
party in a controversy. Orig. an 

Fencible Regiments : regiments (1759- 
1802) liable for defensive service at 


Fenian, A : a member of an Irish 
revolutionary organization active from 
1858 to 1885. From Fene, a name of 
the Irish people, and the Fians, a 
mythical band of followers of Finn 

Feringhee, A : an Indian name for a 
European or Eurasian. Persian, 
Faravgi, a corruption of Frank. 

Ferment, To be in a : to be agitated. 

Ferney, The Patriarch of : Voltaire, who 
spent the last years of his life at 
Ferney, near Geneva. 

Fescennine verses : scurrilous and coarse 
verse. After Fescennia, in Etruria, 
famous for the jeering verses written 

Festive Season, The : Christmastide. 

FSte Champ §tre, A {Fr., an outdoor 
entertainment) . 

Feu de joie, A {Fr., fire of joy) : a bon- 
fire. [Bp. W. Barlow, Answer to a 
Nameless Catholic's Censure, II (1609)] 

Feudal System, The : the system of land- 
tenure under which the whole of the 
land of the country was vested in the 
Crown, and the actual holders were 
under obligations to perform military 
service as rent. Introduced into 
England by William the Conqueror. 

F.F.V's : the First Families of Virginia, 
descendants of the original settlers in 
the State. After the initial letters. 

Fiacre, A {Fr., cab) : a French hackney 
cab. From the Hotel de St. Fiacre, 
in Paris, the first station for carriages 
for hire (c. 1650). St. Fiacre (d. 670) 
is the patron of Gardeners. 

Fib, A : a falsehood of a minor character. 
An abbreviation of ' fable.' [Con- 
greve. Double Dealer, IV, iii (1694)] 

Fiddle about (Fiddle about with . .), To : 
to behave (deal with) in an aimless, 
perfunctory, inefficient manner. [T. 
Wright, Passions, IV, ii § 3 (1530)] 

Fiddle, As fit as a : in excellent con- 
dition. [Wm. Haughton, Englishmen 
for My Money, IV, i (1597)] 

Fiddle, The Scotch : the itch. From the 
resemblance between playing the 
fiddle and scratching oneself. 

Fiddle, To hang up one's : to withdraw 
from business ; to resign. 

Fiddle, To have a face as long as a : to 
have a very dismal look. 

Fiddle, To play second : to occupy a 
subordinate position. 

Fiddle when one comes home, To hang up 
one's : to reserve one's gifts of entertain- 
ment for the amusement of strangers. 

141 [Fisld-day 

Fiddle while Rome is burning. To : to 

interest oneself in trivialities, while 
events of great importance are trans- 
piring. In allusion to the Emperor 
Nero (37-68) who is said to have con- 
tinued to amuse himself with his 
violin while his capital, Rome, was 
burning before his eyes. 

Fiddler's fare (pay) : meat, drink and 
money. [Lewis Machin, The Dumb 
Knight, III. i (1608)] 

Fiddler's Green, A : a sailor's ely- 
sium, composed of wine, women and 

Fiddler's money : a threepenny-bit, the 
payment at one time made by each 
dancer to the fiddler at a party. 

Fiddler's news : stale news ; such as 
that formerly circulated by itinerant 

Fiddle-de-dee : nonsense. [Johnson, 
in Boswell's Life (1791)] 

Fiddle-faddle : trifling ; trivial. A 
duplicative word. The earlier form 
was fiddle-cum-faddle. [BuUinger, 
Decades, 103 (1577)] 

Fiddler, As drunk as a : see Drunk. 

Fiddlesticks : nonsense. 

Fides Carbonarii : implicit faith. A 
carbonaro being asked what he be- 
lieved, replied, ' What the Church 
believes ' and being asked once again, 
what the Church believes, replied, 
' What I believe.' 

Fides Punica : see Punic Faith. 

Fidus Achates : see Achates. 

Field, The : (i) the riders in a hunt ; 
(2) the horses in a race ; (3) the scene 
of sports. 

Field of Blood, The : the battlefield of 
Cannae, in Italy, where in 216 B.C. 
Hannibal overwhelmed the Roman 

Field of the Cloth of Gold, The : the 
scene in the Pas-de-Calais, France, of 
the meeting between Francis I, of 
France, and Henry VIII, of England, 
in 1520, famous on account of its 

Field of the Forty Footsteps, The : an 
open space behind Montagu House, 
Bloomsbury, London, built over about 
1800, the legendary scene of a duel 
between two brothers on whose forty 
footprints nothing would ever grow. 
In reality a district abandoned to 
vice and crime. 

Field-day, A : a day of important or 
exciting events. Orig. the day of a 
military review. 



Field-Marshars baton in one's knapsack^ 
To carry a : to have the opportunity 
of rising to the height of one's am- 
bition. From a saying attributed to 
Napoleon : ' Every French soldier 
carries in his knapsack the baton of a 
Marshal of France,' but in reality 
based on an utterance of Louis XVIII 
to the students of St. Cyrin Aug., 1819. 

liery Cross, To send the : to summon to 
battle. In the Scottish Highlands 
the clansmen used to be summoned to 
battle by means of a cross dipped in 
blood and sent from village to village. 

Fifteen, The : (i) the Jacobite Rebellion 
of 1715 ; (2) the Scottish Court of 
Session, consisting originally of fifteen 

Fifteener, A : a book printed in the 
15th century. 

Fifth Estate, The : (humorously) the 

Fifth Monarchy Man, A : a member of 
an Eng. politico-religious party at the 
time of the Commonwealth which 
believed in the early establishment of 
the fifth universal monarchy with 
Christ at its head. The four previous 
monarchies were believed to be 
Assyria, Persia, Macedon, and Rome. 

Fifth wheel of the coach. The : something 
quite superfluous. [Dekker, Match 
Me in London (1631)] 

Fig for . . Not to care a : to have neither 
fear nor respect for . . See Fig, To 
give the, from which phrase it is 
probably derived. 

Fig Sunday : the Sunday before Easter, 
in allusion to Christ's desire to eat the 
fruit of a fig tree on his way to 
Bethany on the day following the 
entry into Jerusalem. 

Fig to . . To give the : to jeer at . . ; 
insult ; by thrusting the thumb 
between two fingers or into the 
mouth. A phrase of Ital. origin, said 
to have been derived from a con- 
temptuous punishment inflicted on 
the Milanese by the Emperor Frederic 
Barbarossa in 11 62. 

Fig's end, A : something worthless. 

Figs where only brambles grow, To seek : 
see Seek. 

Figaro, A : a clever and ingenious rogue. 
After characters in Le Barbier de 
Siville and Le Mariage de Figaro, by 

Fight shy of . . To : to avoid conflict or 
association with . . Perhaps orig. to 
lose courage in battle. 


Fight the tiger. To : to gamble. An 

Fight with foot and horse. To : to contend 
with the assistance of all of one's 
forces. [Cicero, De Ofjiciis, III, 33, 

Fight with shadows. To : to contend 
against imaginary opposition. 

Fight with the gloves off. To : to fight in 
earnest. A boxing metaphor. 

Fight with the gloves on. To : to fight 
in a perfunctory manner, being careful 
to do one's adversary no damage. A 
boxing metaphor. 

Fighting chance, A : a slight chance, 
which may be brought to fruition after 
a desperate struggle. 

Fighting cock. To live like a : to live in 
the lap of luxury. Game-cocks were 
always generously fed in order to 
encourage their pugnacity. 

Fighting Fifth, The : the 5th Regt. of 
Foot, now the Northumberland 
Fusiliers. On account of their prowess 
in the Peninsular War (1808-14). 

Fighting Prelate, The : Henry Spenser, 
Bp. of Norwich (d. 1406). 

Figure, To cut a (fine) : to make oneself 
conspicuous : often ironically said. 
[Francis Coventry, Hist, of Potnpey 
the Little, ch. 9 (1751)] 

Figure-Flinger, A : a term of contempt 
for one who pretends to astrology, or 
foretells the future by means of figures. 
[Bacon, Wisdom of the Ancients, no. 
xviii (1619). 

Filbert, A : the nut of the hazel-tree. 
After St. Philibert, whose feast 
(August 22nd) is in the nutting-season. 

FiUa Dolorosa {Lat., the grieving 
daughter) : the Duchess of Angouleme, 
daughter of Louis XVI of France 

Filibuster, To : to obstruct business in 
Parliament, etc., esp. on the part of a 
minority. Orig. an American political 
term. Dutch, vrijbueter, freebooter. 

Filioqne Controversy, The : a religious 
controversy between the Eastern and 
Western Churches arising out of the 
word ' Filioque ' (' and from the Son ') 
in the Western version of the Nicene 
Creed. The question was whether 
the Holy Ghost proceeded from the 
Father and the Son, or from the Father 

Fill up the cup, To : to complete a 
series of offences, etc., so that at their 
conclusion a very severe punislmient 
will be justified. 


Filthy Lucre : dishonourable gain ; also 
money. [Tindale, Titus I, ii (1526)] 

Fin de Steele {Fr., end of century) : up- 
to-date ; ultra-modern. The sugges- 
tion is that civilization degenerates 
morally, intellectually, politically — 
as the end of a century approaches, to 
be revivified with the opening of a new 
century. The term originated in Paris 
about the year 1890 and was derived 
from the title of a play by Micard and 
de Jouvenot which was produced in 
Paris in 1888. 

Finality John : Lord John Russell, who 
always referred to the Reform Act of 
1832 as 'a finality.' 

Findon haddock, A : a haddock smoked 
with green wood. After Findon, a 
village near Aberdeen, where haddocks 
are prepared in this manner. 

Fine as fivepence, As : excellently. A 
fivepenny-piece was the ancient Saxon 
silver coin. See Fivepence. 

Fine by degrees and beautifully less : 
gradually diminishing in size. [Prior 
Henry and Emma (1718)] 

Finger in. To have a : to have some 
interest or concern in ; to interfere in. 
[A Warning for Faire Women, II, 
11. 421-3 (1599)] 

Finger in the pie. To have a : to take part, 
esp. an officious one, in any affair. 
[Cervantes, Don Quixote, xxii ; 
Shakespeare, Henry VIII, I, i, 11. 52-3 

Finger in behalf of . . To raise a : to 

make the slightest effort on behalf of . . 
[Cicero, Pro Caecina, xxv, 71] 

Finger, The Index : the first finger of 
the hand because it is used as a pointer. 

Finger, The Marriage : the finger on 
wliich the wedding-ring is placed. 

Finger, The Medical : the third finger of 
the hand. It was formerly beUeved 
that this finger had a direct connection 
with the heart and that a noxious drug 
could not touch it without giving 
direct warning. This finger was there- 
fore used for stirring medical and other 

Finger, The Ring : the third finger of 
the hand. 

Finger, To twist round one's (little) : to 
make subservient to one's will. [Lewis 
Machin, The Dumb Knight, II, i (1608)] 

Finger, With a wet : easily, without any 
trouble. [Heywood, Proverbes (1546)] 

Fingers, To bum one's : to suffer through 
interfering in other people's affairs, or 
through rash speculation. 

143 [Firk 

Fingers' ends. At one's : of knowledge 
with which one is thoroughly ac- 
quainted. [Rabelais, Bk. IV, ch. 54 ; 
Heywood, Proverbes (1546)] 

Fingers, To slip through the : to escape 
against all expectation. 

Fingers at . . To snap one's : not to care 
the least about . . Snapping one's 
fingers was formerly the manner of 
summoning a slave. 

Fingers are all Thumbs : of a clumsy 
person. [Udall, Roister Doister, I, iii 
(1534) ; Heywood, Proverbes (1546)] 

Finger-tips, To the ; to the minutest 
point. [Horace, Ars Poetica, 11. 291-4] 

Finger-tips, With the : faint-heartedly ; 

Finger-tips, To stand on one's : to be 

Fingle-fangle : something unimportant 
or fantastic. 

Finishing school, A : a school at which 
young ladies are taught social deport- 
ment preparatory to their admission 
into society. 

Fire, To take oil to extinguish the : see 

Fire and water. To go through : to under- 
go hardships and difficulties. In 
allusion to the ordeals by fire and 
water. [Shakespeare, Merry Wives of 
Windsor, III, iv, 109-11 (1598-9] 
A military metaphor. 

Fire in one hand and water in the other. 
To carry : to say one thing and mean 
another. [Heywood, Proverbes {1546)} 

Fire, To go through the : to experience 
trouble or anxiety. In allusion to the 
ordeal in the fiery furnace of Shadrach, 
Meshach and Abednego. [Daniel, iii] 

Fires, Between two : faced by alternative 

Firewater: alcoholic spirits. An Ameri- 
can-Indian term. 

Firebrand, A : one who causes excite- 
ment and disturbance. In allusion to 
a piece of wood kindled at the fire. 
[Shakespeare, Troilus and Cressida, 
II, ii (1606-7)] 

Firebrand of the Universe, The : Timur 
Tamerlane (1336-1405), the Tartar 

Fire drake, A : a fiery dragon, a man 
always prone to fight. 

Fire-eater, A : a fire-drake {q.v.). 

Fire-eaters, The : extreme supporters of 
the claims of the Southern States 
before the outbreak of the Civil War. 

Firk of law: a legal quibble or trick. [Ram 
Alley in Dodsley, Old Plays, V, 467] 




Firm as hodge-wife, As : see Hodge-wife. 

First born of Egypt, The : according to Dr. 
Johnson, people of aristocratic birth. 

First catch your hare : see Hare. 

First cause, The great : according to the 
students of evolution, God. [Pope, 
Universal Prayer (1738)] 

First Christian kingdom. The : France. 

First fruits : the first production of 
animal or vegetable ; the earliest 
results of one's efforts ; a tax repre- 
senting the first year's income ; 
formerly an offering consisting of the 
first production of the harvest. 

First Gentleman of Europe, The : 
George IV (i 762-1 830), king of Eng- 
land. So-called by his admirers. 

First Grenadier of France, The : 
Theophilus de Latour d'Auvergne 
{1743-1800). So-called by Napoleon. 

First of June, The glorious : the anni- 
versary of the naval battle in 1794 in 
which the French were defeated by 
Lord Howe off Ushant. 

First rate : (orig. a nautical term) of the 
highest degree of excellence. In 
allusion to a warship of the highest 

First water, A diamond of the : see 

Fish to bite. To teach a : see Teach. 

Fish that comes to his net, All is : what- 
ever comes along is welcome and 
made use of. 

Fish for compliments. To : to pay a 
compliment in the expectation of 
receiving a greater one in return. 
[Jane Austen, Mansfield Par/;, ch. 29 

Fish, He eats no : he is not a Papist 
or Roman Catholic and is therefore 
to be trusted. The phrase dates 
from the time of Queen Elizabeth 
when all Roman Catholics were under 

Fish of one and flesh of another. To 
make : to make unjustifiable dis- 
tinctions. [Jonathan Swift, Polite 
Conversation, Dial, ii (1738)] 

Fish, flesh nor fowl, nor good red herring. 
Neither : without the particular 
qualities of one thing or the other. 
Derived from a proverb current in 
the 1 6th cent. Other forms of the 
phrase are ' Neither fish nor flesh,' 
' Neither fish nor fowl . ' The su ggested 
allusions are fish (food for the monks), 
flesh (for the laity generally), red 
herring (for the poorer classes). 
[Hey wood, Proverbes (1546) ; Roy, 

Rede me mnd be not Wrothe, I, iii 

Fish to fry. To have other : to have 

other business to attend to. 
Fish with a golden hook. To : to offer 

bribes. [Suetonius, De Vita Cee- 

sarum : Augustus Octavianus, 25 ; 

Arth. Brooke, Tragical History of 

Romeus and Juliet (1562)] 
Fish to the Hellespont, To send : to 

perform a work of supererogation. 
Fish, A loose : a person of loose habits. 
Fish in the middle of the ocean. To go 

netting for : to do something foolish 

or unprofitable. [Plautus, Asinaria, 

1. loo-i] 
Fish, A pretty (nice) kettle of : a muddle. 

The phrase is probably derived from 

the kettle or kiddle-nets which when 

drawn from the water, full of fish, 

furnish an excellent illustration of 

flurry, confusion, disorder and muddle. 

[Samuel Richardson, Pamela, III, 

308 (1741)] 
Fish, A queer : a curious person, not 

altogether to be understood. 
Fish, To cry stinking : see Stinking. 
Fish story, A : a grossly exaggerated 

and practically invented story ; like 

the proverbial tales told by amateur 

fishermen of their catches. 
Fish in troubled waters. To : to seek 

one's own advantage in other people's 

troubles. From the French. [La 

Fontaine, Contes et Nouvelles : Belph- 

igor (1665)] 
Fish out of water, A : a person who is 

uncomfortable because he is out of 

his element. [Wycliffe, English 

Works, p. 449 (14th cent.) ; Chaucer, 

Prologue to the Canterbury Tales, 

177 (14th cent.)] 
Fish well and catch a frog. To : to obtain 

little result after great effort. [Hey- 

wood, Proverbes (1546)] 
Fishes, To feed the : (i) to be drowned ; 

(2) to be sea-sick. 
Fishes, To make clothes for : see Make. 
Fishday, A : a fast day. A day on 

which fish instead of meat is eaten. 
Fisher of men, A : one who preys upon 

humanity. fCowley, Essays : Day;gers 

of an Honest Man (17th cent.)] 
Fisher of souls. The great : the Devil. 
Fisher's Folly : a fishing or shooting 

box. [Braithwait, Survey of History 

Fishing question, A : a question intended 

to elicit information on which, further 

questions may be based. 


Fishy : doubtful, subject to suspicion. 
Perhaps as slippery as a fish. See 
also Fish Story, A. 

Fishy Story, A : a story that arouses 
doubt or suspicion. See Fishy. 

Fist, To be brought to : to be compelled 
to fight. [Shatterley Marmion, The 
Antiquary, IV, i (1641)] 

Fist, To write a good (bad) : to be a good 
(bad) calligrapher. [Udall, Ralph 
Roister Doister, III, v, 1. 48 (1550)] 

Fit : in good health and spirits. 
[Hamlet V, ii (1602-3;] 

Fit as a fiddle, As : see Fiddle. 

Fit as a fiddler, As : in excellent con- 
dition. Probably ' Fiddler ' was intro- 
duced merely for alliteration. 

Fit as a pudding for a Friar's mouth. As : 
appropriate ; welcome. [Fulwell, 
Like will to Like, 212 (1568)] 

Fits and starts. By : spasmodically. 

Fittest, Survival of the : phrase coined 
by Herbert Spencer [Principles of 
Biology, § 164 (1864)] to express 
the results of the struggle for existence. 

Five alls. The : a publichouse sign 
consisting of a king in his regalia 
(I govern all), a bishop in his vest- 
ments (I pray for all), a lawyer in his 
gown (I plead for all), a soldier in his 
uniform (I fight for all), a labourer 
with his tools (I pay for all). 

Five-minute clause, A : a clause, some- 
times inserted in a deed of separation, 
to the effect that if the parties remain 
together for five minutes after the 
deed has been signed it will become 
null and void. 

Five Nations, The : the five tribes that 
comprised the Iroquois confederacy. 

Five per cent patriotism : patriotism 
which displays itself in remunerative 
investments. In allusion to the five 
per cent. War Loan raised to finance 
Great Britain during the European 
War of 1914-1918. 

Five senses. The : sight, hearing, smell, 
taste and touch. 

Five wits. The : commonsense, imagina- 
tion, fantasy, estimation and memory. 

Fivepence, As fine as : emphatically 
fine. [R.B., Appius and Virginia, 
1. 161 (1563)] See Fine. 

Fiver, A : a five-pound note. 

Fix, To be in a : to be in a difficulty. 

Flabbergasted, To be : to be astounded 
and confused. Appeared first in 1772 
as fashionable slang. [Annual 
Register: On new words (1772)] 

Flag, A black : the emblem of piracy. 

145 [Flander 

Flag day, A : a day set apart for money 
collections in the street on behalf of 
some charitable institution, after the 
little flags with which donors are 
presented to wear in their button- 

Flag, To get one's : to be promoted to 
the rank of admiral, and thus be 
entitled to fly one's flag. 

Flag half mast high : an emblem of 

Flag, To hang the red : to issue a defiance. 
The Red Flag was the Roman battle 

Flag, To hang the yellow : to announce 
the presence of contagious illness. 
From the signal used on such occasions 
on board ship. 

Flag, To hoist the white : to surrender, 
to admit defeat. From the flag of 
truce, raised by one of the parties 
to a fight when a cessation of hostilities, 
temporary or permanent, is desired. 

Flag, To lower one's : to submit to, 
to surrender. A nautical term. 

Flag rank : naval rank not lower than 
that of commodore, entitling the 
holder to fly his flag. 

Flag, To strike the : to give up one's 
office or command. A nautical term. 

Flag, To unfurl the black : to declare 
war. The Moslem flag is black, i.e., 
the colour of the curtain that hung 
before the door of Ayeshah, Mahomet's 
favourite wife, which was taken as 
the battle-flag of his followers. See 
also Flag, a black. 

Flag, The yellow : the signal used to 
announce the existence of contagious 

Flagellants : members of a rel. sect 
who in the 13th and 14th cents, 
taught that flogging was a virtue and 
rel. duty. 

Flagellum Dei {Lat., The Scourge of 
God) : Attila, King of the Huns. 

Flagrante Delicto {Lat., while the 
offence is flagrant) : caught in the 
very act. 

Flame, A {Lat.,flamma, love) : a sweet- 
heart ; prob. from the burning passion 
of love. [Cowley, Mistress (1647)]. 

Flanders babies : wooden dolls. 

Flanders, To pass over the sandbanks of : 
to pass safely through a difficulty. In 
allusion to the sandbanks at the 
mouths of the Scheldt and the Meuse 
which caused difficulty to Spanish 
navigators. [Cervantes, Don Quixote, 
II, 21] i 


Flank of . . To turn the : to circumvent 

a person. A military metaphor. 
Flannel, A : a Welshman ; in allusion to 
the manufacture of flannel in Wales. 
[Shakespeare, Merry Wives of Windsor, 
V, V, 172 (1598-9)] 

Flannelled fools : individuals who devote 
an undue amount of time to sport, i.e., 
in wearing flannel suits. Phrase 
coined by Rudyard Kipling. [The 
Islanders (1902)] 

Flapper, A : a girl of about 16 or 17. 
Perhaps in allusion to the flapping of 
their plaits of hair as they move 

Flare up, A : a sudden fit of anger, like 
a flare or blaze of fire. 

Flash : a shallow, showy person or 
behaviour, like a sudden, brief flash 
of light. 

Flash : counterfeit. In allusion to the 
glitter of cheap flash jewellery, aJso to 
Flash, a district in the North Midlands 
frequented by swindling hawkers. 

Flash men : dishonest sporting men. 
See also Flash. 

Flash notes : false bank notes. 

Flash in the pan, A : a failure after a 
well-advertised preparation. In allu- 
sion to a gun that fails to explode when 

Flashy : empty but showy. See Flash. 

Flat as a Flounder, As : flattened out ; 
depressed. [Beaumont and Fletcher, 
Women Pleased, II. iv (1620)] 

Flat as a Pancake, As : dull. [Henry 
Porter, Two Angry Women of Abington, 

II. 1 127-9 (1599) ; Middleton and 
Dekker, Roaring Girl, II, i (161 1)] 

Flat, To fall : (of a play, etc.) to prove 

Flattering unction to your soul. Lay not 
that : do not lull yourself into a state 
of false security by means of that 
supposition. [Shakespeare, Hamlet, 

III, iv (1602-3)] 

Flax to the fire : a ready cause of 
excitement. [Heywood, Proverbes 

Flea in one's ear. To go away with a : 
to suffer a sudden and quite unexpected 
reproof or rebuff. [Rabelais, Panta- 
gruel. III, ch. vii (1533) ; Heywood, 
Proverbes (1546)] 

Flea-hite, A mere : a trouble or annoy- 
ance of very slight consequence. 
[Heywood, Proverbes (1546)] 

Fleece, To : to cheat a person as a sheep 
is deprived of its fleece. [Nashe, 
Christe's Teares (1593)] 



Fleet Book evidence : no evidence. The 
books of the Fleet Prison could not be 
produced in proof of a marriage. 
Fleet of the Desert, A : a caravjin. 
Fleet Marriages : secret or hasty 
marriages, celebrated in the Fleet 
Prison by clergjonen of doubtful 
reputation. These marriages were 
brought to an end by the Marriage 
Act of 1754. 
Fleet Street : the London newspaper 
world. The offices of most of the 
principal London newspapers are in or 
about Fleet Street. 
Flemish Account, A : an account that 
shows an unwelcome deficit. In 
allusion to the value of an Antwerp 
livre or pound, viz., 12s. 
Flesh, After the : resembling in physical 

Flesh creep. To make one's : to make one 

nervous and expectant of evil. 
Flesh one's sword. To : to use one's 
sword for the first time. [Thos. 
Hughes, Misfortunes of Arthur, II, ii 
Flesh, The way of all : death. In 
allusion to ' the way of all the earth.' 
[Joshua, xxiii, 14 ; Heywood, The 
Golden Age (161 1)] 
Fleshly School, The : a nineteenth cent, 
school of Eng. poets — Swinburne, 
William Morris, D. G. Rossetti and 
others — so-called by Robert Buchanan 
(' Thos. Maitland ') in the Contemporary 
Review of October, 1871. 
Fleshpots of Egypt, The : good things of 
this world formerly at one's disposed, 
but no longer so. [Exodus, xvi, 3] 
Fleur de Luce : Fleur de Lys {q.v.). 
Fleur de Lys (Lis) : the royal insignia of 

France, the heraldic lily, the iris. 
Flibbertigibbet : an idle chatterer ; the 
name of a devil in Shakespeare, King 
Lear, and of a character in Sir W. 
Scott, Kenilworth. The fiend was 
invented by the Jesuits about the 
time of the Span. Armada. [Hey- 
wood, Proverbes (1546)] 
Flighty, To be : to be frivolous, esp. of 

a girl. 
Flim flam : nonsense ; a trifle. A 
duplication of flam, a lie. [Heywood, 
Proverbes (1546)] 
Flimsy, A : a bank note ; in allusion to 

the thinness of its paper. 
Flinch one's glass. To : to avoid empty- 
ing one's glass. Flinch, to draw back, 
[Arbuthnot, History of John Bull, 
Pt. II, ch. 6 (1713)] * 


Fling at. To have a : to gibe at. [Wily 

Beguiled, U. 423-4 (1592)] 
Fling oneself at someone's head, To : to 

place oneself unreservedly at the 
disposal of . . ; (in affairs of the 
heart) for a woman to make unmis- 
takable advances without securing her 

Fling, To have one's : to pursue pleasure 
singlemindedly until satisfied. [Beau- 
mont and Fletcher, Rule a Wife, III, v 

Flint, To bleed (skin) the : of a miser, to 
be exacting to the last farthing. 
[Rob. Greene, Meyiaphon (1589)] 

Flint, A heart of : see Heart. 

Flint against . . To set one's face like a : 
to be rigidly averse from . . [Bunyan, 
Pilgrim's Progress, Pt. I (1678)] 

Flintlock, A : an obsolete kind of hand- 
gun which was fired by means of a 
flint attached to the hammer. 

Flirt, To : to make love or be coquettish 
without serious intention. Orig. to 
flit inconstantly from one object to 
another. According to Lord Chester- 
field (1694-1773) first used by Lady 
Frances Shirley early in the i8th cent. 
The term is apparently derived from 
that of flirting, or moving with a 
quick sharp motion, a fan. 

Floaters : in Amer. politics, voters not 
attached to either party and open 
for purchase. 

Flog a dead horse. To : to attempt to 
revive an interest that has passed 

Flood, To take . . at the : to make the 
most of an opportunity, like a vessel 
using a flood to assist its progress. 
[Shakespeare, Julius Ccesar, IV, iii 

Floor, To : a sporting metaphor, to 
knock to the floor ; to confound ; to 

Floorer, A : that which floors. See 
Floor, To. 

Flora : the vegetables of a certain 
district or period. After Flora, the 
goddess of flowers. 

Florence, The German : Dresden. 

Florence of the North, The : Dresden. 

Florimel from the false. To distinguish the 
true : to recognize one's true affinity in 
contrast to temporary attractions. In 
allusion to Florimel, a damsel- 
character in Spenser, Faerie Queen, 
Bks. Ill and IV (1590-6). 

Florimel's Girdle : the test of chastity and 
true wifehood. In allusion to the 



cestus or girdle of Venus and to 

Florimel, the type of virgin modesty 

in Spencer, Faerie Queen, Bks. III. 

and IV. (1590-6). 
Florin, A : a coin of varying value in 

different periods and countries. In 

allusion to Florence in which city it 

was introduced. 
Flos Regnum (La^, the Flower of Kings): 

King Arthur. So-called by John of 

Flotsam and jetsam : orig. a legal term : 

wreckage floating on the sea and cast 

ashore ; odds and ends. 
Flower of Chivaky, The : (i) Sir Philip 

Sidney (1554-1586); (2) Wilham 

Douglas, Lord of Liddesdale (c. 

1300-53) ; (3) Chevalier de Bayard 

Flower of Fishes, The: the grey ling. 

So-called by Isaac Walton. 
Flower of the flock. The : the flower of 

the garland {q.v). 
Flower of the garland. The fairest : the 

most beautiful or choicest member of 

the party. [Heywood, Proverbes 

Flower of Kings, The : Arthur. So- 
called by John of Exeter. 
Flower of the Levant, The : the Island of 

Zante. In allusion to its beauty and 

bounteous products. 
Flower of one's age. The : early manhood. 

[Tyrtaeus, VII, 29 ; Virgil, Eclogues, 

VII, 11. 4-5 ; A Complaint of the Losse 

of Liber tie by Loue, 11. 17-8 (1557)] 
Flower of the Poets, The : Geoffrey 

Chaucer (i 328-1 400). 
Flowers, A Battle of: see Battle. 
Flowers of Rhetoric : flowers of speech 

(q.v.). [Dunbar, Golden Targe (1508)] 
Flowers of Speech : ornaments of speech. 
Flowery Kingdom, The : one of the 

native names for China. Properly the 

Flower of Kingdoms. 
Fluke, By a : by a piece of luck. Orig. 

a billiard term. 
Flummery : empty flattery ; properly a 

sweet dish made of milk, eggs, etc. 

[Peter Pindar, Subjects for Painters : 

The Soldier and the Virgin Mary 

(i8th cent.)] 
Flummuz, To : to confound ; to nonplus. 
Flush of money : with plenty of money. 

[Dekker, Baichelor's Banquet, ch. viii 

Flute, To teach a pig to play on a : see 

Flutter, A : a venture in earnest ; a 

small gamble or bet. 

Platter] 148 

Flatter the dovecots. To : to cause a mild 
excitement in society. [Shakespeare, 
Coriolanus, V, vi, 116 (1607)] 

Flax, To be in a : to be in a state of 
uncertainty or fluctuation. [Bacon, 
Essayes : Of Vicissitudes of Things 

Fly, To be : to be wideawake. 

Fly in amber, A : something surprisingly 
out of place, like the flies occasionally 
found imbedded in amber. 

Fly on the coach-wheel, A : a person of 
little consequence who considers him- 
self of great importance. From one of 
iEsop's Fables, later popularized by 
La Fontaine in his fable, Le Cache et 
la Mouche. 

Fly into an elephant, To change a : see 

Fly in the face of . . To : to oppose ; to 
attempt to prevent ; rashly to seek 
danger. [Francis Coventry, History of 
Pompey the Little, ch. 5 (175 1)] 

Fly high, To : to nurse an extravagant 

Fly a kite. To : (i) to borrow money by 
means of accommodation bills ; (2) 
to write a begging letter. 

Fly at . . To let : to strike at. A cock- 
fighting metaphor. 

Fly-by-night, A : a person who decamps 
in the night, generally to avoid his 
creditors ; a sedan chair on wheels, in 
use at the beginning of the 19th cent. 

Fly, To rise to the : to be taken in ; to 
be deceived. 

Fly, To take a spear to kill a : see Take. 

Fly on the wheel. To crush a : to devote 
much energy to little purpose. 

Flying colours. To come off with : to 
score a public success. 

Flying Dutchman, The : a spectre ship 
supposed by superstitious seamen to 
haunt the seas around the Cape of 
Good Hope. The legend was the 
subject of an opera by Wagner, Der 
Fliegende Hollaender, and of a novel by 
Frederick Marryat, The Phantom Ship 


Flying Hshes, To talk of: to tell 
travellers' tales, i.e., tales based for 
the most part on the imagination. 

Fobbed off. To be : to be put off under 
false pretences. [Shakespeare, 2 Henry 
IV, II, i, 37 (1597-8)] 

Foeman worthy of one's steel, A : a 
competitor whose qusdities necessitate 
the employment of all one's powers in 
the contest. [Scott, Lady of the Lake 


Fogey, An old {Scot., an old invalid or 
garrison soldier) : an old-fashioned 

Fogrum, An old : an old fogey {q.v.). 
[R. Cumberland, The Mysterious 
Husband, I, i (1783)] 

Follower, A : a man who courts a maid- 
servant. [Dickens, Nicholas Nickleby, 
ch. XV (1838)] 

Folly, To fill up the measure of one's : 
to complete the sum of one's foolish- 
ness. [Matthew, xxiii, 32 ; Genesis, 
XV, 16] 

Folly as it flies. To shoot : to detect folly 
as soon as it shows itself. [Pope, 
Essay on Man, Epistle I, 9 (1732-4)] 

Fons et origo {Lat., fountain and origin) : 
the original cause. 

Food for Acheron : see Pabulum 

Fool for one's pains, A : one who labours 
to no purpose. 

Food for powder : recruits for the army. 
[Shakespeare, i Henry IV, IV, ii 


Food for worms : a dead body. [Rob. 
Arnim, A Nest of Ninnies (1608)] 

Fool in Christendom, The most learned 
(wisest) : James I of England, so- 
called by Henri IV of France, who, 
however, himself derived the term 
from the Due de Sully. 

Fool's chair, A : a chair with a leg 
missing, on which fools attempt to sit 
and consequently fall. 

Fools Day, All : see April Fool. 

Fool's errand, A : a profitless under- 
taking. [Swift, Polite ConverscUion, 
Dial. I (1738)] 

Fools, Feast of : see Feast. 

Fool's Fire : the will-o'-the-wisp. 

Fool's Paradise, A : a state of happiness 
or satisfaction resting on no reliable 
basis. [The Paston Letters {1462)] 
According to the Schoolmen, one 
of the divisions of the region which 
w£is on the outskirts of paradise was 
Limbus Fatuorum or the ' Border ' 
of Fools. 

Foolish as a Daw, As : in the i6th cent, 
a ' daw ' was a silly, chattering person. 
[Trial of Trectsure, 1. 344 (1567)] 

Foolish as a Woodcock, As : in allusion 
to the proverbial foolishness of wood- 
cocks. [Bacon, IVorks (1564)] 

Foolometer, A : a pretended standcird of 
measurement of folly. 

Foolosopher, A : a foolish pretender to 
philosophy. [Chaloner, - Erasm. 

MoricB Enconium. (1549)] 


Foolscap : a size of paper. From the 
foors cap which orig. served as the 
watermark, said to have been intro- 
duced by Sir John Spielmann or 
Spilman, a German who built a paper 
mill at Dartford in 1580. Also possi- 
bly a corruption of (Ital.) foglio capo, 
folio-sized sheet. 

Foot it. To : to pay an account ; lit., to 
pay the amount stated at the foot. 

Foot, To show the cloven : see Cloven 

Foot in, To get one's : to get accustomed 
to an occupation. 

Foot in the grave. To have one : to be 
very ill ; to be near death. The 
phrase is attributed to the Emperor 
Julian (331-63). [Lucian, Apologia, I ; 
Massinger and Field, Fatal Dotvry 
(1632) ; Thos. Lodge, Rosalind (1590)] 

Foot by one's own Last, To measure 
another's : to judge another by one's 
own standard. 

Foot, To know the length of one's : to 
discover a person's weaknesses so as 
to be able to manage him. [Lyly, 
Euphues and His England (1580)] 

Foot down. To put one's : to repress 
firmly, to adopt a determined atti- 

Foot foremost. To put one's best : to 
throw oneself energetically into an 
undertaking. [Shakespeare, King 
John, IV, ii (1596)] 

Foot in it. To put one's : to make a 
blunder. The phrase is said to be an 
abbreviation of ' The bishop has put 
his foot in it,' used when soup or milk 
is burnt. The cook is supposed to have 
neglected her duty in order to run out 
and see the bishop pass. Tyndale 
gave another explanation : ' If the 
pottage be burnt . . we say the Bishop 
hath put his foot in the pot, or the 
Bishop hath played the cook. Because 
the Bishops bum who they lust and 
whosoever displeases them . ' [Obedience 
of a Crysten Man (1528)] 

Foot in, To get one's : to make oneself 
acquainted with the task to be under- 

Football of fortune, A : a plaything of 
fortune ; a person who is apparently 
subject to the whims of chance and 
has no control over his own fortunes. 

Footing, To be on a good : to have a good 
reputation. The translation of a 
French phrase. 

Footing, To pay one's : to pay (not 
necessarily in money) for admission 



into a circle, profession, etc. Properly, 
to pay for one's footing. 

Footlights, The : the stage ; in allusion 
to the row of lights at the edge of the 
stage level with the feet of the 

Footman's Inn : a poor lodging. 
[Penniles Parliament of Threed-bare 
Poets (1608)] 

Footpad, A : an unmounted highway 
robber, whose boots were originally 
padded so as to deaden the sound of 
his approach. 

Forbidden fruit : unlawful indulgence. 
An allusion to the fall of Adam and 
Eve in the garden of Eden. 

Forbidden Land, The : Thibet, from 
which country all foreigners were 
rigidly excluded. 

Force the hand. To : to compel a person 
to show his case or to take action which 
he would prefer to defer. A whist- 
playing metaphor. 

Forced march, A : a march in which 
troops are compelled to exert them- 
selves beyond the ordinary limit of 
endurance. A military term. 

Forefathers' Day : December 21st, ob- 
served in the New England States as 
the anniversary of the landing of the 
Pilgrim Fathers. 

Foreign Office, The : the British dept. 
of state which deals with foreign 

Forest Cantons, The : the cantons of 
Lucerne, Schwyz, Uri, and Unter- 
walden, in the Swiss Federation. 

Forest City, The : Cleveland, Ohio. In 
allusion to its numerous trees. 

Forest of Fools, The : the world. [Dekker, 
Gull's Horn Book (1609)] 

Forfeits in a barber shop : see Barber 

Forget-me-nots of the angels. The : 
stars. [Longfellow, Evangeline (1847)] 

Fork, To pass under the : to admit defeat. 
In allusion to the fork or yoke at 
Caudi under which the Roman army 
had to pass on the occasion of their 
defeat in 321 B.C. 

Forked radish, A : man. [Shakespeare, 
2 Henry IV, III, ii (1597-8)] 

Forlorn Hope, A : (Dutch, verloren hoop, 
lost troop) (i) a small body of troops 
used as a sacrifice to gain an advantage 
for the main army ; (2) a task practi- 
cally impossible of fulfilment. [Ton- 
stall, Sermons (1539)] 

Form, Bad (Qood) : see Bad (Good) 


Forma pauperis. In {Lat., in the gui^ of a 
pauper) : of a suitor too poor to 
engage counsel. 

Fortiter in re {Lat.) : determined in 

Fortuitous concourse of atoms, A : an 
accidental collection of objects. First 
used by Richard Bentley (1692) : 
applied by the Quarterly Review to Sir 
Robert Peel's Administration (LIII, 
p. 270). [Cicero, De Nainra Deorum, 
Bk. II. 37] 

Fortunate Islands, The ; Islands of the 
Blest, The : orig. mythical islands in 
the Atlantic, the abode of the supreme- 
ly happy. When the Canary Islands 
were discovered the name was at- 
tached to them. 

Fortunatus' purse : the purse whose 
contents are never exhausted. After 
the medieval legend of Fortunatus. 

Fortunatus' wishing cap : the hat which 
transports the wearer to any destin- 
ation he wishes. From the medieval 
legend of Fortunatus. 

Fortune, Dame : the personification of 
fortune or luck. 

Fortune hunter, A : a person who seeks 
to marry an heiress for her money. 
See the comedy of that title by J. 
Carlisle (1689). 

'Forty-five, The : the Jacobite Rebellion 
of 1745-6. 

Fortsminers, The : the argonauts of 
'Forty-nine (q.v.). 

Forty stripes save one : the Thirty-nine 

Forty winks : a short sleep, esp. after 

Forum, A : a place or opportunity for 
public discussion. In allusion to the 
Forum, the place at Rome where 
public business was transacted. 

Forward, To be : to be the opposite of 
diffident or retiring. 

Forwards, Marshal : name borne by 
Marshal Bliicher (i 742-1819) during 
the campaign of 181 3. In allusion to 
his continual exhortations to his 
troops to advance. 

Foul of . . To fall : to come into collision 
with . . A nautical metaphor. [Sir 
Thos. Overbury, Newes from Sea 

Foul Fiend, The : Satan. 

Foul play : unfair play ; treachery. 
[Lyly, Euphues (1579)] 

Foul weather Jack : Admiral John Byron 
(1723-86). In allusion to his ill-luck 
at sea. 

15* [Fourth 

Founder of the Fathers of Christian 
Doctrine, The : Csesar de Bus (1544- 

Fountain-head, To go to the : to go to 

the original source. [T. Washington, 
Transl. of Nicholay's Voyages, I, viii 

Fountain of human liberty. The : know- 
ledge, according to Daniel Webster, 

Fountain of Life, The : Alexander of 
Hales (d. 1245), Eng. theologian and 

Fountain of Tonth, The : a mythical 
spring which is supposed to give those 
who bathe in it perpetual youth. It 
has been located at different times in 
many places. 

Four Apprentices (Prentices), The : four 
mythical heroes, Godfrey, Grey, 
Charles and Eustace, sons of an Earl 
of Boloign, who, rejecting trade for 
war. performed prodigies of valour in 
the Holy Land and elsewhere. Their 
exploits are narrated in The Foure 
Prentises of London : With the Con- 
quest of Jerusalem (1615). 

Four-bottle man, A : a man who 
customarily drinks four bottles of 
wine at a sitting. 

Four in hand, A : coach with four horses. 

Four Hundred, The : the elite of New 
York society. 

Four walls, Within : see Walls. 

Fours, On all : in complete agreement. 

Fours, To go on all : to proceed on hands 
and feet like a quadruped. 

Fourierism : a scheme for the organiz- 
ation of mankind in small communities, 
invented by Frangois Charles Marie 
Fourier (i 772-1 837). 

Fourteen hundred : the cry uttered on 
the London Stock Exchange when the 
presence of a stranger is detected. It 
is supposed to be derived from the fact 
that the number of members of the 
Exchange was for long limited to 1399- 

Fourth dimension. The : a supposed or 
assumed dimension whose relation to 
the recognized dimensions of length, 
breadth, and thickness is analogous to 
that borne by any one of these to the 
other two. The conception has been 
used to explain certain super-physical 
phenomena, which seem otherwise 

Fourth Estate, The : the Press. The 
suggestion, made by Edmund Burke, 
is that its power is greater than that 
of the three estates of the realm. See 
also Estates. 


Fourth of July, The : the day of the 

declaration of American Independence 
in 1776, observed as a national holiday 
in the United States. 

Fourth Party, The : a party in the 
House of Commons consisting of 
Lord Randolph Churchill, Sir Henry 
Drummond Woliif, Sir John Gorst 
and Mr. Arthur J. Balfour, active 
during the Pari, of 1880. The other 
three parties were the Conservative, 
Liberal and Irish. 

Four-wheeler, A : a four wheeled 
hackney carriage, distinguished from 
a hansom cab (two wheels). 

Fox, Au old : (i) a good blade ; after 
the design of a fox, which was once 
custoniarily engraved, as a sort of 
trade-mark, on the best Toledo and 
other blades ; (2) a sly person. 
[Shakespeare, Merry Wives of Windsor, 
III, iii, 71-3 (1598-9) ; Letter of 
Queen Elizabeth to James VI of 
Scotland (June, 1585)] 

Fox, The old : Marshal Soult (1769- 
1851), so called on account of his 
strategic gifts. 

Pox that has lost his tail, A : a person 
who having himself met with mis- 
fortune endeavours to involve others 
in similar troubles. From the fable 
of the fox, which having lost his own 
tail, tries to persuade his fellows to 
sacrifice theirs. 

Pox's sleep, A : pretended indifference 
to what is transpiring. In allusion 
to the proverbial cunning of the fox. 

Foxes to the plough. To yoke : to act 
foolishly and to no purpose. 

Francis's distemper, St. : impecuniosity. 
The members of the Order of St. 
Francis are vowed to povert5^ 

Pranc-tireur, A {Fr., free-shooter) : an 
irregular soldier, esp. on the French 
side during the Franco-Prussian War 
of I 870-1. 

Frank, A : a European in Turkey and 
other Moslem lands ; from France. 
The term originated in the period of 
the Crusades and was first applied 
to the French only. 

Prank pledge : the system of common 
responsibility for each individual 
member of a body. 

Frankenstein, A : (i) one overpowered 
by his own creation ; (2) the monster 
of one's own creation which over- 
powers. After the title of a novel 
(181 8) by Mary WoUstonecraft Godwin 
(Shelley) (1797-1851). 

151 [Free 

Prankum's night, A : a night in June 
fatal to apple or pear blossom ; from 
the story of Frankum who offered 
a sacrifice in order to secure esp. 
favourable weather for his orchard 
but was cursed by a blight instead. 

Frazzle, Beat to a : beaten to ribbons 
or fragments. 

Freddy, A pretty : a swell ; a dandy. 

Free as air. As : [Marston, The Insatiate 
Count (1613)] 

Free as the sun. As : [Dekker, The 
Honest Whore (1604)] 

Free Breakfast Table, A : a fiscal 
system in which no import duties 
are levied on tea, coffee, cocoa, sugar, 
and other common articles of diet. 
The phrase was coined by John 
Bright, Eng. statesman and orator 
(1811-1889) in an address to the 
Edinburgh Chamber of Commerce in 

Free Church, A : an independent church, 
esp. the Presbyt. Church that seceded 
from the Est. Church of Scotland in 
1893. (The Free Kirk). 

Free Churches, The : the Eng. Nonconf. 

Free Company, A : a band of mercenary 
soldiers, available for hire by any 
ruler or state. 

Free and easy, A : a social gathering 
at which one is freed from the trammels 
of society conventions. [Lister, 
Journey to Paris, 41 (1699)] 

Free fight, A : a melee in which every 
man's hand is against everyone. 

Free hand. To have a : to be untram- 
melled. To have full liberty of 

Free house, A : a public-house not 
" tied " or bound to purchase its 
beer from any particular brewer. 

Free Kirk, The : see Free Church. 

Free labour : labour unattached to any 
Trade Union. 

Free lance, A : (i) a member of a Free 
Company {q.v.) ; (2) a person unattach- 
ed to any party, class, etc. ; (3) a 
journalist unattached to any periodical 
but contributing to several. 

Free with. To make : to take liberties 

Free Soilers : an Amer. polit. party in 
the middle of the 19th cent., formed 
to oppose the extension of slavery 
to the Territories. Merged in 1854 
in the Republican Party. 

Free States, The : those states of the 
Americcji Union in which slavery had 


been abolished prior to the outbreak 
of the Civil War of 1861. 

Free Trade : the principle of the inter- 
change of commodities between difier- 
ent states, unhindered by customs 
duties, except for purposes of revenue. 

Free Trade, The Apostle of: Rich. 
Cobden (1804- 1865). 

Freeman, Mrs. : see Mrs. Morley and 
Mrs. Freeman. 

Freestone State, The : Connecticut, 
U.S.A. In allusion to the freestone 
found within its borders. 

Freeze out, To : to force out of a business, 
company, etc. , either by boycott or by 
intense competition. An Americanism . 

French Aristides, The : Albert Gr6vy 
(1813-91), President of the French 
Republic. After Aristides the Just 
(c. 530-468 B.C.), the Athenian states- 
man and general. 

French Aristophanes, The : Moli^re 
(1622-73). After Aristophanes (c. 
448-385 B.C.), the famous Grk. 

French Cream : brandy. In allusion 
to the Fr. practice of taking it with 

French Crown : baldness caused by the 
French disease {q.v.). [Shakespeare, 
Midsummer Night's Dream, I, ii, 
99 (1590)] 

French Disease, The : venereal disease ; 
from its prevalence in France (early 
1 6th cent.). 

French Ennius, The : (i) Guillaume di 
Lorris (1235-65) ; (2) Jehan de 
Meung (1260-1320), French poet. 
After Quintus Ennius (239-170 B.C.), 
the early Roman poet. 

French leave. To take : to act without 
permission. After the custom in 
France in the i8th cent, of leaving 
a social gathering without taking 
leave of the host or hostess. Another 
origin is from the practice of the Fr. 
soldiery in the i6th cent, of seizing 
whatever they required. 

French Lycophron, The : Jean Dorat 
(1504-88). philologist and poet. After 
Lycophron (fl. 285-247 B.C.), the 
father of the anagram in Greece. 

French Ovid, The : Joachim de Bellay 
(c. 1524-1560). After Ovid (B.C. 
43 to A.D. 18), the Rom. poet. 

French Phidias, The : (i) Jean Goujon 
{1515-1568) ; (2) Jean Baptiste 
Pigalle (1714-1785), After Phidias 
(c. 500-432 B.C.). the famous Grk. 



French Pindar, The : (i) Jean Dinemandy 
(Dorat) (1504- 1 588) ; (2) Ponce Denis 
Lebrun (1719-1807). After Pindar 
(c. 522-443 B.C.), the famous Theban 
lyric poet. 

French Raphael, The : Eustache Le Sueur 
(161 6-1 655). After Raphael da Urbino 
(1483-1520), the great Ital. painter. 

French of Stratford atte Bowe : Cockney 
French. [Chaucer, Canterbury Tales : 
Prologue, 120-2 (14th cent.)] 

French Tibullus, The : see Tibullus. 

Fresh as flowers in May, As : very fresh. 
[The Worlde and the Chylde, 1. 133 

Fresh woods and pastures new : a new 
field of activity. [Milton, Lycidas, 
193 (1637)] 

Fresh-water soldier, A : a raw recruit. 
[Florio. A Worlde of Wordes (1598)] 

Friar Rush : a will o' the wisp. In 
Germ, folklore Friar Rush was an evil 
spirit who in particular led monks 
and friars astray. 

Friar Tuck : a vagabond friar in medie- 
val Eng. folklore. 

Friday, A : a man Friday {q.v.). 

Friday-faced : sad looking. In allusion 
to Friday as a fast-day in the Roman 
Catholic Church. [John Day, Blind 
Beggar, III, ii (1592)] 

Friday, Long : see Long. 

Friday, A man : a faithful personal 
attendant. In allusion to a character 
in Defoe, Robinson Crusoe (17 19). 

Friday tree, A : a trouble or misfortune. 
In allusion to the tree or cross on which 
Jesus was crucified on the original 
Good Friday. 

Fridays come together. When two : never. 

Friend at Court, A : one who is in a 
position to use his influence on behalf 
of another. Properly one who attends 
in a court of law to watch for and 
point out irregularities. [Romaunt of 
the Rose (c. 1400)] 

Friend in need, A : a friend who has been 
tested and found reliable. From the 
proverb, ' A friend in need is a friend 

Friend of God, The : (i) Abraham ; 
(2) any pious man. 

Friend of man. The : (i) Victor, Marquis 
de Mirabeau (1715-89), author of 
L'Ami des Hommes, The Friend of 
Men (1756) ; (2) the robin. ; (3) the dog. 

Friends of Ireland : an organization 
founded by Daniel O'Connell in 1830, 
afterwards merged in the Irish Volun- 


Friends of the People : a Whig society 
formed at the end of the i8th cent, 
to secure pari, reform. 

Fritz, A : a Germ, soldier. So-called in 
the British Army, during the war of 
191 4-1 8. After a common personal 
name in Germany. 

Fritz, Unser {Germ., Our Fritz) : the 
Emp. Frederick of Germany (1831-88). 
So-called by the Germans. 

Froebel, The Italian : Antonio Rosmini- 
Serbati (i 797-1855). 

Froebel System, The : a system of edu- 
cation for young children, invented by 
Frederick Wilhelm August Froebel 
(i 782-1 852), German educationist. 

Froebelism : see Froebel System. 

Frog, A : a Frenchman, or more properly 
a Parisian. In allusion either to the 
device of the City of Paris, three frogs 
or toads, or to the gastronomical use 
of frogs in France. 

Frog, To catch a : to obtain little result 
to great exertions. [Heywood, 
Proverbes {1546)] 

Frog, Nic (Nicholas) : a Dutchman. So- 
called in John Arbuthnot, Law is a 
Bottomless Pit (17 12). 

Frog's march, A : the carrying of a man 
face downwards by four bearers, one 
holding each limb. 

Fronde {Fr., a sling) : the French politi- 
cal party that rebelled against the 
govt, of Mazarin during the minority of 
Louis XIV (1648-53). Hence any 
violent political opposition. Frondeur, 
a member of the party ; also a political 
opponent concerned with party advan- 
tage alone. 

Frondeur, A : a spiteful critic ; a 
scandalmonger. See Fronde. 

Frost and flowers, To suit like : to be 
quite unsuitable. 

Frost Saints : St. Mamertus, St. Pan- 
cratius, St. Servatius, St. Boniface, 
whose days fall in 'the blackthorn 
winter' (May nth- 14th). 

Frowning cloth. To wear one's : to be 
displeased. From an imaginary 
covering of the eyes (frowning cloth). 

Frozen music : architecture. So-called 
by Carl Wilhelm Friedrich von 
Schlegel (1772-1829). 

Fruit, Forbidden : see Forbidden. 

Fry, The common : young or unim- 
portant people in general. From ' fry ' 
in the sense of the young of human 
beings or fishes, collective!}'. 

Fry, Small : people of little consequence, 
lit. newly spawned fishes. 



Frying-pan into the fire. Out of the : 

out of one trouble into a greater one. 
[Cervantes, Don Qtiixote, Pt. I, Bk. Ill, 

ch. iv ; Heywood, Proverbes (1546)] 
Fuchsia : a flowering plant, native to 

S. and C. America. After Leonard 

Fuchs, Germ. bot. (1501-66). 
Fudge {Germ., futsch, a term of 

contempt) : nonsense. Apparently 

invented by Oliver Goldsmith in the 
Vicar of Wakefield (1766). 
Fuel to the fire. To add : to act or speak 

so as to increase a person's anger. 

[Horace, Satires, Bk. II, iii, 32 ; 

Ingeland, Disobedient Child, 1. 317 

(1560) ; Thos. Kyd, Spanish Tragedy 

Fugger, As rich as a : very wealthy. In 

allusion to the Fuggers, a family of 

rich 1 6th cent. German merchants. 
Fulhams : loaded dice. After the 

district of London which was notorious 

in the 17th cent, for its bad characters. 
Full of meat as an egg. As : of prime 

quality. [John Still, Gammer Gurton's 

Needle, V, ii (1566) ; Shakespeare, 

Romeo and Juliet, III, i, 21 (1591)] 
Full swing. In : with the utmost energy. 
Fum the Fourth : George IV of England. 
Fume, In a : in a temper. From the 

former sense of fume, vapour given off 

by bodies when heated. 
Fun of. To make : to ridicule. Phrase 

apparently invented by Horace Wal- 

pole (1717-97). See his Correspon- 
Fun at. To poke : to ridicule. Phrase 

apparently invented by Thos. Hood 

Funds, The : the stock of a national debt. 
Funk, To be in a : to be frightened ; 

poss. from (Walloon) fonk, smoke. 

[Peter Pindar, Subjects for Painters 

(i8th cent.)] 
Funny bone. The : the extremity of the 

elbow. A verbal play on the Lat. 

equivalent, humerus. 
Furnace, To roast snow in a : see Roast. 
Fussy as a hen that has one chick. As : 

see Busy as a hen, etc. 
Fustian : (i) bombast ; (2) a coarse 

cotton fabric. From Fostat, a dist. 

of Cairo, where the fabric was orig. 

obtained. [Gosson, Ephemerides of 

Phialto (1579) ; Lyly, Euphues and 

his England (1580)] 
Futures, To deal in : to purchase shares 

in the expectation that their value 

will rise before the purchaser is called 

on to pay for them. 


O.O.M., The : the Grand Old Man, Wm. 
Ewart Gladstone (1809-98), British 
statesman. The epithet, ' The Grand 
Old Man,' is said to have been first 
applied to him by Sir Stafford North- 
cote (1818-87), 1st Earl of Iddesleigh. 
The initial letters were first applied 
to Gladstone by Lord Rosebery on 
the 26th of April, 1882. Still earlier 
Walter Farquhar Hook (1798-1875), 
Dean of Chichester and author, used 
the term on at least two occasions, in 
reference to Handel, the composer, 
and to Theodore, Aichbishop of 

O.O.M. of Athens, The : Pericles 
(490-429 B.C.), Athenian statesman. 
So-called by Frederick Apthorp Paley 
in his Fragments of Greek Comic Poets 

O.T.T. : gone to Texas ; decamped. 

Gab, The gift of the : the power of 
eloquence and persuasive talking ; 
from gab (Ang.-Sax.), speech, (Scot.) 
the mouth. [Godwin, Caleb Williams 


Gaberlunzie man, A : a wandering 
beggar. From gaberlunzie, a coarse 
woollen gown, a costume worn by 
licensed beggars. 

Oabrielle, La belle : Gabrielle d'Estrees 
(1571-1599), Mistress of Henry IV 
of France. 

Gabriel's hounds : wild geese. From 
the noise they make when flying and 
from the legend that they are the 
souls of unbaptized children doomed 
to wander until the Day of Judg- 

Gaff, To blow the : to divulge a secret. 

Gaff, A penny : a low class theatre. 
After the name of the first Drury 
Lane theatre, built on the site of a 
cockpit. The gaff was the iron hook 
with which cocks were goaded to the 

Gag, A : an interpolation in the dialogue 
of a play by the actor. Properly a 
mining term for a piece of timber 
pushed in hurriedly to prevent others 
from settling. 

Gag, The : the closure, the power given 
to the majority in the House of 
Commons to close a debate. 

Gage d' Amour {Fr., a love token) : 
[Steme, Sentimental Journey (1768)] 

Galanty Show, A : a shadow pantomime. 

Galaxy, A : orig. the Milky Way ; a 
brilliant concourse of persons. Grk., 
yaka$iuc, milky. 



Galen, A : a physician. After a cele- 
brated physician of Pergamus (2nd 

Galen says no and Hippocrates says yes. 
When : when doctors disagree. 
Galen (2nd cent.) and Hippocrates 
(460-357 B.C.) were famous physicians 
of antiquity. 

Galena : salt pork ; from Galen, 
Illinois, a pork packing centre. 

Galenist, A : a herb doctor. See Galen. 

Galore P Que faites vous dans cette : see 

Galore, Vogue la : see Vogue. 

Galilean, A : (i) a Christian, after 
Galilee one of the scenes of Jesus' 
activities ; (2) a telescope, after 
the inventor, Galileo (1564-1642). 

Galilee, A : a church porch. After 
Galilee as an outlying province of 
the Holy Land. 

Gall of Bitterness, The : extreme bitter- 
ness of spirit. According to the 
ancients the gall was the seat of grief 
and joy. [Acts, viii, 23] 

Gall, Pull of: full of bitterness. [J as. 
Puckle, The Club : The Buffoon 


Gall, To be turned to : to be changed 
into sorrow. [Gray, William Shake- 
speare to Mrs. Anne, 11. 11-2 (1765)] 

Gall and Wormwood : that which causes 
mental pain and bitterness. Gall 
and wormwood are both synonyms 
for bitterness. [Wycliffe, Transl. of 
the Bible (14th cent.)] 

Gallantee Show, A : see Galanty Show. 

Gallery, To play to the : of a leader, 
speaker, etc., to lower his views or 
the expression of them to the level of 
the mob. A theatrical metaphor : — 
to act as to satisfy the crude desires 
of the occupants of the gallery. 

Gallicanism : the movement within the 
R.C. Ch. in France which is opposed 
to Ultramontanism and the encroach- 
ments of the Papal authority. 

Galligaskins : (i) a style of trousers ; 
(2) leather gaiters worn by sportsmen. 
Old Fr., garguescans, from grechesco 
(Ital.) greekish, a term in use in 
Venice. Another suggested der. is 
from Galley and Gascons, the sugges- 
tion being that such garments were 
worn by galley seamen of Gascony. 
[Thomas Nashe, Pierce Penilesse 

Gallio, A : an easy-going person ; one 
who does not interfere outside of his 
official duties. After Gallio, the Rom. 


pro-consul, ' who cared for none of 

those things.' [Acts, xviii.]. 
Gallomania : a passion for things and 

fashions French. 
Galloway, A : a horse of small size, bred 

in Galloway, Scotland. 
Gallowglasses : Scot, and Irish heavily 

armed mercenary foot troops in the 

time of Elizabeth. Irish, galloglach, 

foreign soldier. 
Gallows, To cheat the : of a criminal, 

who dies otherwise than on the 

GaJlows-bird, A : one who deserves 

to be hanged. 
Galley-breeches : see Galligaskins. 
Gally-Gaskins : see Galligaslcins. 
Gally-pot baronet, A : a physician- 
Galore {Irish, go leor) : in abundance. 
Galvanism : a branch of the science of 

electricity. From Luigi Galvani, Ital. 

physicist (1737-98). 
Galway Jury, A : a courageous, just jury. 

From the action of a Galway jury in 

deciding against the King in a case 

heard in 1635. 
Gamaliel, A : a pedant ; a distinguished 

teacher. After the Jewish teacher of 

St. Paul. 
Gamaliel Ratsey, A : a highwayman. 

After one who flourished in the i6th 

and 17th centuries. 
Game, To be : to be ready and fully 

prepared, esp. for a fight or mischief. 

A cockfighting metaphor. 
Game, To die : to remain resolute until 

the last. A cockfighting metaphor. 
Game, Fair : a legitimate object of 

attack, ridicule, etc. A hunting 

Game leg, A {Irish, gam, bad, crooked) : 

an injured leg. 
Game, One's little : one's dodge or trick. 
Game of . . To make : to ridicule 

FRos, Belle Dame sans Mercy, 226 

Game, To play a losing : see Losing. 
Game, To play the : to act straight- 
forwardly. A gambling metaphor. 

[Dryden, Epistle to Mr. Lee. 11. 5-6 

Game, Two can play at that : of sharp or 

incorrect practice ; others can act 

similarly. A gambling metaphor. 
Game is up. The : an admission of defeat. 

A gambling metaphor. [Shakespeare, 

Cymbeline, III, iii (1610)] 
Game is not worth the candle. The : see 




Gktme's afoot. The : the enterprise has 
commenced. [Shakespeare, Henry V, 
III, i (1599)] 

Gamin, A {Fr.) : a street Arab. 

Gammon : nonsense ; idle chatter. 
Orig. thieves' slang. To keep in 
gammon is to keep the attention of a 
person while a confederate is robbing 
him. [14th cent.] 

Gamp, A : a large shabby umbrella. 
After Mrs. Sairey Gamp, a character in 
Dickens, Martin Chuzzlewit (1843), who 
always carried such a one. 

Gamp, Sarah (Sairy) (BIrs.) : a middle- 
aged, unqualified, drinking midwife. 
After a character in Dickens, Martin 
Chuzzlewit (1843). 

Gamps and Harrises : workhouse or 
other low-class nurses. After 
characters in Dickens, Martin Chuzzle- 
wit (1843). 

Gang agley. To {Scot.) : to go wrong. 

Gang days. The : the Rogation days ; 
three days preceding Ascension Day, 
on which processions take place. 

Gang one's own gait, To : to go one's 
own way. Scot., gang, to go, gait, a 

Gang Monday : Monday in Rogation 
Week. See Gang days. 

Gang Week : Rogation Week. See Gang 

Ganymede, A : (i) a beautiful youth ; 
(2) a pot-boy. After the cupbearer of 
Jupiter, ' the most beautiful boy ever 

Ganymede, The birds of : eagles. From 
the legend of Ganymede riding to 
Olympus on the back of an eagle. 

Gaol bird, A : a criminal, esp. one who is 
frequently in prison. [Earle, Micro- 
cosmography : A Vulgar-spirited Man 

Gape's nest. To seek a : to stare about 
open-mouthed. Devonshire phrase. 

Gape seed. To look for : to stare open- 
mouthed. [Florio (1598)] 

Gaps with one bush. To stop two : see 

Gaps with rushes. To stop : see Stop. 

Garcias ; Garcias, The Soul of Pedro : 
money. According to a statement 
made in the preface to Le Sage, Gil 
Bias (17 1 5), two scholars of Salamanca 
discovered a tombstone with the 
inscription ' Here lies the soul of the 
licentiate Pedro Garcias.' In the 
tomb they found only a purse of gold. 

Garden of Armida : see Armida. 

Grarden City, The : Chicago. 


Garden of Cymodooe, The : the island of 
Sark. So-called by Swinburne in a 
poem of that name (1880). 

Garden of England, The : (i) Kent ; 
{2) Worcestershire ; (3) the Isle of 

Garden of Erin, The : Carlow. 

Garden of Europe, The : (i) Italy ; 
(2) Belgium. 

Garden of France, The : (i) Touraine ; 
(2) Amboise in Indre et Loire. 

Garden of Helvetia, The : Thurgau. 

Garden of India, The : Oude. 

Garden of Ireland, The : Carlow. 

Garden of Italy, The : Sicily. 

Garden of South Wales, The : South 

Garden of Spain, The : Andalusia. 

Garden State, The : (i) Kansas ; (2) 
New Jersey. 

Garden of the Snn, The : the East Indian 

Garden of the West, The : (i) Kansas ; 
{2) Illinois. 

Garden of the World, The : (i) Italy ; 
(2) London ; (3) the region of the 

Gardenia : a genus of evergreen shrub. 
After Alex. Garden, Amer. bot. (c. 

Gargantua, A : a person with an 
insatiable appetite. See Gargantuan. 

Gargantuan : (i) gigantic ; (2) threaten- 
ing. After the giant king in Rabelais, 
The Life of Gargantua (1532). 

Gargantuan course of studies, A : a 
course of studies covering all subjects. 
See Rabelais, Pantagriiel, ii, 8 (1532). 

Garibaldi, A : a blouse, orig. red, the 
colour of Garibaldi's red shirts ; from 
the name of the Ital. revolutionist 
Giuseppe Garibaldi (1807-82). See 
next entry. 

Garibaldi's red shirt : the uniform 
adopted by Garibaldi and his men in 
the liberation of Italy (1859-66). 
From the garment worn by Amer. 
merchant-seamen, first adopted by 
Garibaldi when he took command of 
the merchantmen at Baltimore. 
Garter, The Order of the : England's 
highest order of knighthood ; es- 
tablished about 1349. The foundation 
and name of the Order are attributed 
to the finding of a garter of the 
Countess of Salisbury by the King, 
Edward III. 
Garters untied. To go with one's : in 
the reign of Elizabeth, an outward 
expression of being in love, being too 



much engrossed to trouble about one's 
personal appearance. 
Garvies : sprats. After Inch Garvie in 
the Firth of Forth where they are 
Gas, To : to talk at great length but 

without any value. 
Gascon, A : a boaster. See Gasconade. 
Gasconade, A : boasting. After Gascony 
in France whose people were reputed to 
have a tendency in that direction. 
Gascoyne Bride, The : Moll Cutpurse 
[q.v.), who assumed male attire. For 
Gascoyne see Galligaskins. 
Gaspipe cavalry : military cyclists. 
Gate, The : the money taken at the 
gate for admission to a cricket or 
football match or other sporting 
Gate of Horn : see Horn Gate. 
Gate of Ivory : see Ivory Gate. 
Gate of the mind. The : the face. [Rob. 
Johnson, Essayes : Of Travell (1607)] 
Gate money : see Gate. 
Gate of Tears, The : the entrance to the 
Red Sea. So-called by the Arabs on 
account of the number of shipwrecks 
that occur there. 
Gath ! Tell it not in : publish not the 

news abroad ! [II Samuel, i, 20] 
Gathers, Out of : in distress. Like a 
woman's dress whose gathers or pleats 
have become unfastened. 
Gathered to one's fathers. To be : to 
die. A biblical phrase. [Genesis, 
XXV, 8 ; Judges, ii, 10] 
Gatling-gun, A : a species of machine- 
gun. After Rich. Jordan Gatling, the 
Amer. inventor (181 8-1903). 
Gauche (Fr., left-[handed]) : clumsy ; 

Gaucho, A : a mixed Spanish and Indian 
inhabitant of S. America, esp. skilled 
in horsemanship. 
Gaudy days (nights) {Lot., gaudere, to 
rejoice) : days (nights) of rejoicing ; 
gala days. [16th cent.] 
Gauntlet, To run the : to undergo 
punishment ; to run the risk of punish- 
ment or danger from two or more 
sides. Properly to run the gantlope, 
a military and naval punistunent in 
which the sufferer, stripped to the 
waist, ran between two rows of men 
armed with whips. [Smollett, Pere- 
grine Pickle, ch. 80 (1751)] 
Gauntlet, To throw down the : to 
challenge. From the practice of 
chivalry of throwing down a gauntlet 
or glove as a challenge. 



Gautier and Garguille : everybody in 
general. Gautier-Gargouille was a 17th 
cent. French clown who made fun of 

GavelMnd : an Anglo-Saxon system of 
inheritance whereby all the sons 
shared alike. 

Gay deceiver, A : a libertine ; a man 
who, with no real intentions of matri- 
mony, sponges on families where there 
are marriageable daughters. [Smollett, 
Transl. of Gil Bias (1749)] 

Gay dog, A : a gallant. 

Gay as the king's candle. As : showily 
dressed. In allusion to a candle of 
many colours, formerly burnt in 
France on the Vigil of the Kings. 
(Jan. 6). 

Gay Science, The : (i) poetry ; (2) belles 
lettres, generally ; (3) minstrelsy. 

Gazet, Not worth a : of practically no 
value. From gazet, a Venetian coin 
worth less than a farthing. 

Gazette, A : a newspaper. After the 
gazet or gazzetta, the Venetian coin 
that was paid for permission to read 
the manuscript newspaper which 
recorded the events in the war with 
Soliman the Magnificent (c. 1522). 

Gazing-stock, A : anything that is gazed 
at or attracts idle attention. [Miles 
Coverdale, Transl. of the Bible (1535)] 

Geese are swans. All his : he is given to 
exaggeration. [Robert Burton, 
Anatomy of Melancholy, Pt. I, Sect. II, 
memb. 3, sub-sect. 14 (1621)] 

Gehenna : Hell. Lit., the Valley of 
Hinnom, near Jerusalem, the place of 

. sacrifice of children to Moloch, and 
later the receptacle of the refuse of the 
city which was consumed by fire. 
Heb., Ge, valley, and Hinnom. 

Gelert, As faithful as : devoted. In 
allusion to the dog Gelert, the hound 
of Llewellyn, famous in Welsh legend 
for its devotion to its master. 

Gem of the ocean. The : Ireland. So- 
called by Thomas Moore. 

Gemini ! Oh : a 17th cent, oath invoking 
the Gemini or twin-gods. Castor and 

General, The : the mob. So-used by 

General Janvier and General Fevrier {Fr., 
General January and General 
February) : the rigours of winter 
which destroyed the army led by 
Napoleon into Russia (18 12). 
General post. The : the first postal 
delivery of the day ; orig. the mail that 


arrived from the General Post Office 
in London. 

Generous as Hatim, As : Hatim was a 
Bedouin chief who lived during the 
generation before Mahomet. 

Geneva : (i) Calvinism, after the Swiss 
town formerly the centre of the cult ; 
(2) gin ; an alcoholic spirit flavoured 
with juniper berries. (Fr., geniivre, 
the juniper tree). 

Geneva bands : white neckbands orig. 
worn by Calvinists and subsequently 
by clergymen of that denomination. 
See Geneva (i). 

Geneva Bible, The : the Eng. translation 
of the Bible, printed at Geneva in 1560. 

Geneva Bull, The : Stephen Marshall 
(c. 1 594-1 655), a Calvinist divine, who 
possessed a very loud voice. 

Geneva Convention, The : the Convention 
between the Powers (1864) by which 
was regulated international usage in 
warfare as regards the wounded and 
sick. The Red Cross is the badge of 
those who work under it. 

Geneva courage : valour induced by 
alcohol. In allusion to Geneva as a 
synonym for gin. 

Geneva Cross, The : a red cross on a 
white ground, worn by doctors, nurses, 
and others connected with the service 
of the wounded and sick in the army. 
See Geneva Convention. 

Geneva Doctrines : Calvinism. After 
John Calvin, the reformer, who lived 
at Geneva from 1541 onwards. 

Geneva gown, A : a black gown with 
bands worn by Calvinist and other 
clergymen, similar to those worn by 
the Calvinists in Geneva. 

Geneva hat, A : a hat of the style worn 
by Puritan clergymen. See Geneva 

Geneva print. To read : to drink gin or 
other spirit. See Geneva. 

Geneva Weaver, A : a puritan. In the 
1 6th cent, weavers were celebrated for 
their psalm-singing : Geneva was a 
centre of Puritanism. 

Genius, One's evil : he who has a bad 
influence over one. 

Genius loci {Lat., genius of the place) : 
the presiding spirit ; the associations 
and inspirations that gather round a 
place. [Dryden, Epistle to Dr. 
Charleton, 11. 53-6 (1663)] 

Gentle craft. The : (i) angling ; (2) 
shoemaking. [Greene's George-a- 
Greene (1592)] In the former case 
the phrase turns on the gentle or 


maggot used as a bait ; in the latter 
the allusion is to the Romance of 
Prince Crispin who was a cobbler. 

Gentle People, The : fairies. 

Gentle Shepherd, The : George Grenville 
(1712-1770), Eng. statesman ; so 
called by William Pitt, Earl of Chat- 

Gentleman in black, A : a scholar. [Sir 
Thos. Overbury, Characters : A metre 
Scholar (161 6)] 

Gentleman in Black, The : the Devil. 

Gentleman in black (brown) velvet. The : 
a mole. So called by the Jacobites 
who believed that a mole was the 
cause of the death of King William 

Gentleman-commoner, A : a specially 
privileged undergraduate of Oxford 
or Cambridge. 

(Gentleman of fortune, A : (i) a pirate ; 
(2) an adventurer. 

Gentleman of the four outs, A : one 
without manners, without wit, with- 
out money, without credit. 

Gentleman of the jacket, A : a sailor. 
[Henry Fielding, Voyage to Lisbon 


Gentleman at large, A : one of the 
unemployed ; orig. one attached to 
the Court without any specific 

Gentleman of the long robe, A : a barris- 
ter or clergyman. In allusion to 
the costume worn by members of 
those professions when on duty. [The 
Spectator, No. 197 (1711)] 

Gentleman, The old : the Devil. 

Gentleman of the pad, A : a highwayman. 
[Farquhar, Beaux StrcUagem, II, ii 

Gentleman of paper and wax, A : a 
newly created Knight ; one made 
a ' gentleman ' by patent and seal. 

Gentleman of the Press, A : a journalist. 
Phrase coined by Lord Beaconsfield 
in a speech in the House of Commons 
(i8th Feb., 1853). 

Gentleman ranker, A : a private soldier 
of superior social station ; generally 
one who enlists after failure to pass 
the examination for a commission and 
is speedily promoted. 

Gentleman in red, A : a soldier. In 
allusion to the former colour of the 
ordinary Brit, militciry uniform. 

Gentleman of the Road, A : a highway- 

Gentleman of the Short staff, A : a 



Gentleman of the three outs, A : ' With- 
out money, without wit, without 
manners ' (Grose's Diet, of the Vulgar 
Tongue), ' out of pocket, out of 
elbows, out of credit ' (Lytton, Paul 

Gentleman's gentleman, A : a valet. 
[Defoe, Everybody's Business (1725) ; 
Goldsmith, Citizen of the World, Letter 
cxx (1760)] 

Genus omne, Et Hoc : see Hoc. 

George, Farmer : see Farmer. 

George-a-Green, As strong (good) as : 
George-a-Green was a popular hero of 
the old ballad poetry. As pinner or 
pindar (pound-keeper) of Wakefield 
he defeated all comers at quarterstafi. 
He was the subject of The Pindar of 
Wakefield by R. Greene (1599). 
[Wit's Recreations (1640)] 

German comb. The : the four fingers and 
thumb. In allusion to the former 
German practice of adjusting the 
hair with the fingers. 

German Florence, The : Dresden. 

German Literature, The father of: 
Gotthold Ephraim Lessing (1729-81). 

German Plato, The : Fredrich Heinrich 
Jacobi (1743-1819). In allusion to 
Plato (427-347 B.C.), the Grk. philos- 

German Pliny, The : Konrad von Gesner 
(1516-65). In allusion to Pliny, the 
Elder (23-79), Roman naturalist. 

German silver : an alloy that looks like 
silver ; first made in Germany. 

German Voltaire, The : see Voltaire, The 

German's lips, As just as : see Jerman's 

Germanophobia : unreasonable hatred 
of Germany, Germans or things 

Germany, Young : see Young. 

Gerrymander, To : so to arrange the 
electoral divisions as artificially to 
secure a majority. After Elbridge 
Gerry, Gov. of Massachusetts (1744- 
181 4), who was given to this practice. 
The word was coined by Benjamin 
Russell, Editor of The Continent, in 


Get at a person, To : to obtain influence 
over improperly or corruptly. 

Get one's back up. To : to estrange ; to 
render antagonistic. In allusion to 
the atittude of a cat when faced by an 

Get out of bed on the wrong side, To : 
to be irritable and bad tempered. In 


allusion to the proverb ' To rise on 
the right side is accounted lucky.' 

Get into one's good graces. To : to get 
into a person's favour. 

Get on one's nerves. To : to affect one 
so as to make one irritable. 

Get on in the world. To : to advance in 
fortune, to make progress. 

Ghetto, A {Ital.) : orig. the quarter of 
a medieval continental city in which 
the Jews were confined ; now any 
district of a city largely inhabited 
by Jews. 

Ghibellines, The : the Imperial party 
in med. Italy ; the opponents of the 

Ghost, A : a person who does literary 
or artistic work on behalf of another 
and in his name. 

Ghost Book, A : a book that has been 
announced but has never been pub- 

Ghost of a chance. The : a very slight 

Ghost, To give up the : to die. [Job, 
xiv, lo ; Earl of Surrey, Complaint 
of a diyng louer (1557)] 

Ghost Word, A : a word that had never 
any real existence but owed its origin 
to the blunder of a printer, copyist 
or editor. Term invented by W. W. 
Skeat. [Transaciions Philological 
Society, p. 371 (1886)] 

Ghoul, A : a person who seeks profit 
of the dead. After an oriental demon 
who was supposed to devour human 

Giant Despair : the owner of Doubting 
Castle in Bunyan, Pilgrim's Progress 

Giant gooseberry, A : a marvellous story. 
After the wonderful accounts of giant 
gooseberries, etc., with which news- 
papers used to fill their columns in the 
slack season. 

Giant of Literature, The : Dr. Samuel 
Johnson (1709-83). 

Giant, To stand on the shoulders of a : 
of a mediocrity who has the advantage 
of the discoveries of the great men 
who have preceded him. [Sir Isaac 
Newton to Rob. Hooke, 5 Feb. 1675-6] 

Giants, Battle of the : see Battle. 

Gib, The cut of one's : a person's facial 
appearance. A nautical metaphor. 

Gib, To hang one's : to be angry. The 
gib is the lower lip of a horse. 

Gib, To play fy : to threaten. From 
Gib, a cat, a diminutive of Gilbert, the 
cat in the fable of Reynard the Fox. 

159 [Gilded 

Gib, To play the : to behave like a cat. 

Gibberish : unintelligible nonsense. After 
Geber (fl. c. 800), an Arabian alchemist, 
who spoke an unintelligible jargon in 
order to protect himself against prose- 
cution for heresy. 

Gibelines : see Ghibellines. 

Gibeonite, A : a menial. After the 
Gibeonites who were made in per- 
petuity hewers of wood and drawers of 
water to the Israelites. [Joshua, ix, 

Gibeonites' work. To do : to be a slave. 
see Gibeonite. 

Gibraltar of . . The : an impregnable 
outpost of a country or fortress, like 

Gibraltar of America, The : Quebec. 

Gibraltar of the New World, The : 
Quebec, or more properly. Cape 
Diamond in the Province of Quebec. 

Gibson girl, A : a style of girl as depicted 
in the drawings of Mr. Chas. Dana 
Gibson (b. 1867), Amer. artist. 

Gibus, A : an opera-hat. After the name 
of the inventor. 

Giddy goat. To play the : to live a fast, 
happy-go-lucky life. 

Gift of the gab : see Gab. 

Gift horse in the mouth. To look a : to 
criticise a gift. From the proverb. 
' Never look a gift horse in the mouth,' 
which was current at least as early as 
the 4th cent. 

Gigantomachia, A : a superhuman 
contest or battle. After the battle of 
the giants against the gods, of Grk. 

Gigmanity ; Gigmanic : respectability ; 
respectable. Word invented by 
Thomas Carlyle to express the respect- 
ability of a man as proved by his 
keeping a gig. [Essay on Boswell's 
Life of Johnson (1832)] 

Gilbertian : humorously absurd. After Sir 
William S chwenck Gilbert (1836-1911), 
Eng. humorous librettist. 

Gild the pill. To : to soften the asperity 
of a course of action. From the 
practice of gilding a pill so that it 
may be the more easily swallowed. 
[Dekker, Satiromastix (1602)] 

Gild refined gold. To : see Gold. 

Gilded Chamber, The : the House of 

Gilded youth, A : a wealthy young man 
of fashion and of much leisure. After 
the Jeunesse Doree (gilded youth) who 
assisted in the overthrow of Robes- 


Gilderoy's kite. To be hong higher than : 

to be punished most severely. Patrick 
Macgregor, otherwise Gilderoy (Red- 
headed Gillie), was a famous Highland 
brigand who was caught and hanged 
on a gallows higher than those of his 
associates at Edinburgh in June, 1636. 

Oilead, Balm in : see Balm. 

Giles, Hopping (Hobbling) : see Hopping 

Gillian of Brentford : a noted witch. 

Gillie-wet-foot, A : a follower of a 
Highland chief, among whose duties 
was the carrying of his master across 
streams. So-called in derision by 
Lowlanders. Gaelic, gille, a servant. 

Gilt off the gingerbreadi. To take the : to 
destroy the illusion. It was once the 
custom to gild gingerbread, esp. when 
it was made up into fancy shapes. 

Gilt-edged Securities : Stock Exchange 
securities of the highest class. The 
term was introduced during the last 
quarter of the 19th cent, from the U.S. 

Gimlet eye, A : a crossed eye ; a piercing 

Gin : an alcoholic drink. An abbrevi- 
ation of Geneva {q.v.). 

Gin palace, A : a public house made esp. 
attractive in appearance. [Oxford 
Univ. Magazine (1834)] 

Ginger : an appellation applied to red- 
haired people. After Guinevere, 
Queen of King Arthur, who is said to 
have had red hair. 

Gingerbread, To take the gilt off the : 
see Gilt. 

Gingham, A : a cheap umbrella. After 
the name of the cotton material of 
which they are made. Malay, ging- 
gang, striped, or from Guingamp in 

Giotto's 0, As round as : stupid. In 
allusion to a story told of Giotto who 
sent an O as a specimen of his work to 
the Pope. 

Gipsy : from Egypt, once believed to 
be the country of origin of the wander- 
ing race of gipsies. 

Girdle, To give up one's : to become 
bankrupt. In allusion to the old 
French practice of giving up one's 
girdle when deprived of one's property. 
The girdle held one's keys, money, 
dagger, arms, etc. 

Girl of aU work, A : a maid-servant ; 
esp. one not of a very high class. 
[Jane Austen, Sense and Sensibility, 
ch. 38 (1811)] 

Girl at ease, A : a prostitute. 

160 [Glaucus 

Girl-graduates, Sweet : a phrase derived 
from Tennyson, Princess, Prologue, 142 

Girondins ; Girondists, The : the moder- 
ate party in the Fr. Revolution. After 
the Dept. of the Gironde whose 
deputies led the party. 

Gist of the matter. The : the pith ; the 
central point of the matter. 

Give a person away. To : to betray a 
person ; intentionally or unintention- 

Give oneself away. To : to make a confi- 
dential communication to the wrong 
person ; to tell a story against oneself ; 
to disclose one's foibles on the slightest 

Give as good as one gets. To : to return 
blow for blow. [The Spectator, No. 
605 (1714)] 

Give and take. To : to compromise ; of 
two persons or parties, to give way on 
both parts. 

Give straw to one's dog and bones to 
one's ass. To : to do precisely the 
wrong thing. 

Gizzard, To stick in one's : to annoy one ; 
prove unpleasant. Pepys (i 633-1 703) 
used gizzard in this sense. 

Glad eye. The : the glance of a girl in- 
tended to attract a strange man. 

Gladstone : cheap claret. After William 
Ewart Gladstone (1809-98), who re- 
duced the import duty on Fr. wines 
in 1869. 

Gladstone bag, A : a small portmanteau. 
After William Ewart Gladstone, 
British statesman (1809-98). 

Gladstone's umbrella : a reference to the 
discordant political elements which 
united in support of Gladstone at the 
General Election of 1885. 

Gladstonize, To : to talk at great length 
without saying much of consequence. 
After the manner of William Ewart 
Gladstone (1809-98), Brit, statesman. 

Glasgow capon, A : see Capon. 

Glasgow magistrate, A : a herring. After 
the practice of sending specimen 
herrings to the Baillie of Glasgow. 

Glasshouse, To live in a : to lay oneself 
open to criticism. From the proverb, 
' They who live in glasshouses should 
not throw stones.' 

Glassite, A : a member of a Scot, religious 
sect founded by John Glass (1695- 
1773) in 1728. 

Glaucus, A second : one who ruins him- 
self by horseracing. After Glaucus 
who was killed by his horses. 


Glaucus swop, A : an exchange in which 
one party obtains a considerable 
advantage. In allusion to the ex- 
change of armour between Glaucus 
and Diomedes. 

Globe-trotter, A : a traveller in foreign 
lands for his own pleasure. 

Gloriana : Queen Elizabeth. From the 
name of the Faerie Queen in Spenser's 
poem so-entitled (1590-6). 

Glorious first of June : see First of June. 

Glorious John : John Dryden {1631- 
1701), Eng. poet and man of letters. 

Glory Demon, The : war. So-called by 
C. Thomson. 

Glove, To bite one's : to determine on 
revenge. A practice derived from the 
borderland of England and Scotland. 

Glove money : a bribe or gratuity given 
nominally for the purchase of gloves. 

Glove, To take up the : to accept a 
challenge. From the feudal practice 
of challenging by means of a glove. 
[Gosson, Ephemerides of Phialto (1579)] 

Glove, To throw down the : to issue a 
challenge. Metaphor derived from 
chivalry. [Shakespeare, Troilus and 
Cressida, IV, iv (1606)] 

Gloves, To go for the : see Go. 

Gloves, To win a pair of : to kiss while 
asleep, the forfeit being nominally a 
pair of gloves. [Jonathan Swift, 
Polite Conversation, Dial. Ill (1738)] 

Gloves off. With the : very severely ; 
unmercifully. A pugilistic metaphor. 

Glue chalk. To : to act foolishly. From 
an ancient Grk. proverb. 

Gnat and swallow a camel. To strain at a : 
to object to a trifle while accepting 
something of greater consequence. 
[Matthew, xxiii, 24 ; J. King, On 
Jonas (1594)] 

Go, All the : the fashion. 

Go for the gloves. To : to initiate an 
offensive after having succeeded while 
on the defensive. 

Go further and fare worse. To : to lose an 
opportunity in the baseless expecta- 
ation of securing a better one. [Hey- 
wood, Proverbes (1546)] 

Go, Great : see Great Go. 

Go, Little : see Little Go. 

Go one better. To : to surpass a previous 
effort or competitor. 

Go to pieces. To : suddenly to lose all 
power of resistance or cohesion. 

Go, To have plenty of : to have plenty 
of energy. 

Go too far. To : to exceed a person's 

161 [Gog 

Go up. To : to proceed from the country 
or a smaller town to the principal one. 
After the biblical phrase ' to go up to 

Go to the wall. To : see Wall. 

Go without saying. To : to be self- 
evident. From the Fr. phrase, ' ^a 
va sans dire.' 

Go wrong. To : to commit a crime ; of a 
woman, to surrender her chastity. 

Goat's Wool : a figment of the imagina- 
tion. [Udall, Demonstr. Discipl. (1588)] 

Go-by, To give a person the : to ' cut ' 
or ignore a person. [Earl of Bristol, 
Elvira, IV, i (1667)] 

Go-off, At the first : in the first instance. 

Gobelin : tapestry made at the factory 
founded by Jean Gobelin of Paris 
(d. 1476). 

Gobemouches, A (Fr., gober, to swallow, 
mouche, a fly) : one who is easily de- 

God, An act of : an action of uncon- 
trollable natural forces resulting in 
damage or injury. A legal term. 

God in the machine. The : see Deus ex 

Gods, Among the : in a theatre gallery. 
In allusion to the pictures of classical 
gods on the ceiling of Drury Lane 
Theatre. The gallery of a theatre is 
of course close to the ceiling. 

God's acre I see Acre, God's. 

God's blessing into the warm sun. To go 
out of : to make a change for the 
worse. Derived from a proverbial 
expression. [Heywood, Proverbes 

God's image cut in ebony : a negro. So- 
called by Thos. Fuller in The Good 

God's mark : a mark placed on a house 
infected by plague. 

God's Sunday : Easter Sunday. 

Goddem, A : an Englishman. In allusion 
to the English propensity to swearing. 
Corruption of ' God damn.' 

Goddess of Beauty, The : Venus. 

Goddess, The capricious : fortune. 

Godsend, A : an unexpected benefit. 

Gog and Magog : two gigantic statues in 
the Guildhall, London, which date 
from the reign of Henry V. According 
to Ezekiel xxxviii and xxxix, Gog was 
king of the land of Magog. The two 
figures in London are supposed to 
represent Gogmagog, a legendary king 
of the giants, and Corineus, a hero and 
giant of Cornwall, by whom he was 


Goggle-eyed : with staring, outst<;nding 
eyes. [Aschani, Toxophilus, Bk. II 

Oogmagogical : gigantic ; monstrous. 

[Taylor, Workes (1630)] See Gog and 

Goloonda, A : a very rich mine. After 

the diamond mines of Golconda, near 

Hyderabad, India. 
Gold, To gild refined : to attempt to 

improve perfection. [Shakespeare, 

King John, IV, ii, 11. 11-6 (1596)] 
Gold, Mannheim : an alloy of copper and 

zinc, invented at Mannheim, Gennany. 
Gold Mine, A : a source of wealth or 

fortune. [H. Peacham, Worth of a 

Penny (1664)] 
Gold of Nibelungen, The : wealth that 

brings misfortune. In allusion to the 

legendary Nibelungen hoard. 
Gold Purse of Spain, The : Andalusia, the 

richest province of the kingdom. 
Gold Stick in Waiting : a court official 

who carries a gilt stick on formal 

Gold of Tolosa, The : ill gains that bring 

no prosperity. Caepio, the Roman 

Consul, on his invasion of Southern 

Gaul, appropriated the sacred gold and 

silver of Tolosa (Toulouse), but was 

shortly afterwards severely defeated 

by the Cimbrians {106 B.C.). 
Gold, Worth its weight in : of very great 

Goldbugs : supporters of monometallism 

or the gold standard in the U.S. 
Golden Age, A : the period of the greatest 

literary and artistic excellence in a 

nation's history. 
Golden Age, The : (i) the fabulous period 

when happiness was universeil ; (2) 

Golden Age of China, The : 626-684. 
Golden Age of Egypt, The : 1 336-1 224 

Golden Age of England, The : 1 558-1 603. 
Golden Age of France, The : 1640-1740. 
Golden Age of Germany, The : 1519-58. 
Golden Age of Portugal, The : 1383-1578. 
Golden Age of Prussia, The : 1740-86. 
Golden Age of Russia, The : 1672-1725. 
Golden Age of Spain, The : 1474-1516. 
Golden Age of Sweden, The : 1 523-1 632. 
Golden Apple, A : a tomato. 
Golden Ball, The: Ball Hughes (fl. 

1802-30), Eng. dandy, famous for his 

Golden Book, A : a register of noble or 

distinguished persons ; esp. that of 

the nobility of the Venetian Republic. 

162 [Golden 

Golden Bowl is broken. The : one's 
strength is exhausted and death 
arrives. [Ecclesiastes, xii, 6] 

Golden Bridge, A : an easy means of 
retreat. From a Fr. proverb, ' Make a 
golden bridge for your enemy.' 

Golden Boll, A : a medieval charter of 
great importance, sealed with a golden 
bulla. Esp. that issued by the Emp. 
Charles IV in 1357, which laid down 
the rules for the election of the king 
of the Romans. 

Golden Calf, The : money. [Exodus, 

Golden calf. To worship the : to be 
devoted to material interests. [Exodus 

Golden City, The : San Francisco, on 
account of its proximity to the gold- 

Golden Fleece, The : one of the great 
orders of knighthood of Spain and 
Austria, founded by Philip, Duke of 
Burgundy. In Grk. mythology the 
fleece of the ram on which Phrixus 
and Helle fled to Colchis. 

Golden Fleece of the North, The : the fur 
and peltry of Siberia. 

Golden Hind among Adventurers, A : a 

Golden Horde, The : the body of Tartars 
who overran Russia in the 13th cent. 
{Sir Orda, the golden camp, the 
gorgeous tent of their leader, Batu.) 

Golden Kite, The : the chief militeiry 
order of Japan. 

Golden Legend, The : a collection of 
lives of the saints made by Jacopus 
de Voragine (Giacoma da Varaggio) 

Golden Mean, The : a policy of 
moderation, avoiding extremes. De- 
rived from one of the maxims of 
Cleobulus (fl. 580-76 B.C.), poet and 
king of Lindus. [Earl of Surrey, 
Praise of Meane and Constant Estate 


Golden Medicine, The : the elixir of 

Golden Mountains, To promise : see 

Golden Mouth : Chrysostom (347-407), 
Grk. Church father. On account of 
his eloquence. 

Golden Number, The : (i) the number of 
any year in the Metonic lunar cycle 
of 19 years, in allusion to its im- 
portance in calculating the date of 
Easter ; (2) any number that brings 
good lucl^ 



Golden Opinions, To earn : to earn 
respect and praise. [Shakespeare, 
Macbeth, I, vii, 11. 32-3 (1606)] 

Golden Rose, The : a jewel, in the form 
of a cluster of roses, awarded by the 
Pope every year to the queen who 
has earned it by her work for the 

Golden Rule, The : (i) ' Whatsoever ye 
would that men should do to you, do 
you even so to them : for this is the 
law and the prophets,' {Matthew, vii, 
12) ; (2) in mathematics, the Rule of 

Golden Shoe, A : a large amount of 

Golden Shower, A : a bribe. In allusion 
to the legend of Jupiter gaining access 
to Danae in the disguise of a shower of 

Golden State, The : California. In 
allusion to its gold mines. 

Golden Time, The : youth. [Lyly, 
E.iphues and His England (1580)] 

Golden Town, The : Mainz, so-called in 
the Carlovingian period. 

Golden Wedding, A : the fiftieth anni- 
versary of a wedding. 

Golden World, The : the golden age 

Golgotha, A : (i) a place of martyrdom ; 
(2) a charnel-house. From the place 
of the Crucifixion. Aramaic, gul- 
galta, a skull. 

Golgotha, The City : Temple Bar, London, 
on which the heads of traitors used to 
be exhibited. 

Goliard, A : a wandering continental 
student of the 12th and 13th cents, 
under an imaginary patron, St. Golias 
(? Goliath). 

Goliath, A : a giant. After the giant in 
the first book of Samuel. 

Gombeen Man, A (Celtic, kmbion, 
change) : in Ireland, a moneylender. 

Gondola of London, The : a hansom cab. 
So-called by Lord Beaconsfield. 

Gone on . . To be : to be enamoured of . . 

Gone under : failed financially ; sunk 
in the social scale. A drowning 

Gone up the country : insolvent. A 
colonial expression. When a man in 
one of the colonial towns became 
bankrupt he used to go prospecting 
into the country to seek a change of 
Goneril, A : an unnatural daughter. 
After a character in Shakespeare, 
King Lear (1605-6). 


Good and all, For : finally. 

Good Books : see Books. 

Good Earl, The : Anthony Ashley, 7th 

Earl of Shaftesbury {1801-85), 

Good Form : good breeding ; good 

behaviour. A cricketing metaphor. 
Good Friday : the Friday before Easter 

Day, kept as the anniversary of the 

Good as Gold, As : generally of children. 

submissive and well-behaved. This 

simile is of quite modem creation. 
Good Grace, With a : willingly. [Bacon, 

Essay es : Of Discourse (1625)] 
Good, To make : to succeed. 
Good Money after bad. To throw : to 

venture still more in a speculation 

that has already proved unfortunate. 
Good Mother, A : a mother-in-law ; or 

Good come out of Nazareth ? Can any : 

what good is to be expected of such 

surroundings ? {John, i, 46] 
Good for nothing : worthless. [Bacon, 

Essay es : Of Goodnesse (1625)] 
Good Parliament, The : see Parliament. 
Good as a Play, As : phrase attributed to 

King Charles II of England on hearing 

a debate in pari, on Lord Ross's 

Divorce Bill. 
Good Regent, The : James Stuart, Earl 

of Moray (1533-70), Regent of 

Good Samaritan, A : one who befriends 

another who has no claim on him. 

{Luke, x, 30-7] 
Good Turn, To do a : to do a kindness. 

{Paston Letters, No. 706 (1472)] 
Good as one's Word, To be as : to keep 

one's word strictly. [Fulwell, Like 

Will to Like, 1. 622 (1568) ; Stanyhurst, 

Description of Ireland {1577)] 
Good one's Word, To make : to fulfil one's 

undertaking. {Knack to Know a 

Knave, 1. 66 (1594)] 
Goose, A : a foolish person. In allusion 

to the supposed stupidity of geese. 

[Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet, II, 

iv {1591-3)] 
Goose, To ; Goose, To give the : to hiss. 

From the sounds uttered by geese. 

Theatre slang. 
Goose, To cook a person's : to punish a 

person. In allusion to the story told 

of Eric, King of Sweden, who, when 

approaching an enemy's town, was 

received in derision by a goose hung 

over the wall. He subsequently took 

the town and burnt it. 


Goose Pair : a fair held about Michael- 
mas when geese are a seasonable dish. 

Goose File : single file. 

Goose and give the giblets in alms. To 
steal a : to amass wealth and to salve 
one's conscience by giving a small 
portion of it in charity. [Howell 

Goose that lays the golden eggs. To kill 
the : to overreach oneself and thereby 
destroy a source of profit. From the 
Grk. fable of the goose that laid the 
golden eggs. 

Goose Quill, A : a pen. In allusion to 
the former use of goose quills for their 

Goose, To shoe the (gray) : to spend one's 
time uselessly. [Inscription on one of 
the stalls of Whalley Church (1434) ; 
Skelton, Colin Clout (1510)] 

Goose, To be sound on the : to be staunch 

■ to one's party. Orig. to be a strong 

advocate of slavery. An Americanism. 

Goose Step, The : elementary military 

Goose among Swans, A : see Swans. 

Goose, A Tailor's : a tailor's iron. In 
allusion to the resemblance of its 
handle to the neck of a goose, or from 
the practice of roasting it. 

Gooseberry, Giant : see Giant. 

Gooseberry, Old : the devil. 

Gooseberry Picker, A : a chaperon ; see 
Gooseberry, To play. 

Gooseberry, To play : to play propriety ; 
to act as chaperon. 

Gooseberry, To play old : to cause havoc. 
See Gooseberry, Old. 

Gooseberry Season, Big : see Big. 

Goose-cap, A : a stupid person. See 

Goose-flesh ; Goose-skin : a rough con- 
dition of the skin resembling that of a 
plucked goose. 

Gordian : complicated. See Gordian knot. 

Gordian Knot, A : a difficult, almost 
insoluble, problem. Gordius, a king 
of Phrygia, tied a knot in such a 
manner that it was impossible to un- 
loose it. The legend grew up that he 
who could solve it would gain the 
empire of Asia. Alexander the Great 
cut the knot with his sword. [Gosson, 
Playes Confuted (1582)] 

Gordian Knot, To cut the : to solve a 
difficult practical problem. See 
Gordian Knot. 

Gorgon, A : a very ugly or horrible 
object. After the three Gorgons, 
famous in mythology for their intense 

164 [Gothenburg 

ugliness, whose eyes (according to 
iEschylus the three sisters had only 
one eye, which they were able to pass 
from one to the other, between them) 
turned to stone all on whom they 

Gorgon's Head, A : an object that terri- 
fies ; see Gorgon. [Life and Death of 
Capt. 1 has. Stiikeley, 11. 2104-5 (1605)] 

Gormogon, A : a member of a society 
formed early in the i8th cent, in 
imitation of the Freemasons. An 
invented word. 

Goshen, A : a long-desired goal. After 
the bountiful district in Egypt in which 
the Israelites sojourned, previous to 
the Exodus. 

Gosling, A : a simpleton ; see Goose. 

Gospel !nruth : a statement to be 
depended on with as much reliance as 
the Gospel. [17th cent.] 

Gospel of Wealth, The : the theory that it 
is money alone that matters and that 
the acquisition of it should be the 
principal aim of man. 

Gospeller, A hot : an ardent Protestant. 
The name was first given in derision 
in the i6th cent. 

Goth, A : a barbarian ; one heedless of 
the claims of the arts and sciences. 
After the people that overran and 
devastated the Roman Empire in the 
3rd and 5th cents. 

Goths and Vandals : uncultured people 
who pay no heed to the claims of art 
or literature. 

Gotham : a name for New York City, 
given by Washington Irving in Salma- 
gundi (1807). See Gotham, Fools of. 

Gotham, Pools of: Gotham, a village 
near Nottingham, England. The sim- 
plicity of its inhabitants has been 
proverbial since at least early in the 
15th cent., when it was referred to in 
the Towneley Mysteries. This sim- 
plicity is said to have been simulated 
orig. in order to turn aside the wrath 
of a king. 

Gotham College : an imaginary insti- 
tution for the training of simpletons. 
[The Last Will and Testament of 
Charyng Crosse, p. 6 (1646)] 

Gotham, A man of : a simple person. 
See Gotham. 

Gothamites : inhabitants of New York. 
See Gotham and Gotham, Fools of. 

Gothenburg System, The : a system of the 
sale of intoxicants by the municipality, 
as introduced at Gothenburg, Sweden, 
in 1865. 


Gothic : (i) of a medieval style of 
architecture ; (2) uncouth. The term 
was first applied to the style of archi- 
tecture contemptuously to indicate 
barbarism. See Goth. 

Gourd and Fullam : two names for false 
dice. See Gourds. Fullam, because 
the dice are full or loaded. [Shakes- 
peare, Merry Wives of Windsor, I, iii, 
11. 93-4 (1600)] 

Gourds : loaded dice. From (Old Fr.) 
gourd, a swindle, or because the dice 
were hollowed like gourds before being 
filled with a heavy substance to give 
them a bias. 

Government of the People, by the People 
and for the People : the watchword of 
the English Liberal Party. The phrase 
is American in origin and was coined by 
Theodore Parker (1810-60). In a 
slightly different form, ' The people's 
government, made for the people, 
made by the people, and answerable 
to the people,' it was uttered by 
Daniel Webster (i 782-1852) in 1830. 

Gowk, To hunt the : to go on a fool's 
errand. Scottish, gowk, a foolish 

Gowk (Gouk) storm, A : a storm of brief 
duration, esp. in the spring (the time of 
the cuckoo). Gowk, a cuckoo. 

Gown, To wear the : to be a clergyman. 
[Wm. Combe, Tour of Dr. Syntax 

Gownsman, A : a member of a univ. ; 
as distinguished from townsman, a 
non-univ. resident in a univ. town. 

Gracchus, The Modem : Count Honore 
de Mirabeau (1749-91), Fr. revol. and 
orator. After Tiberius Sempronius 
Gracchus (163-133 B.C.) and Gains 
Sempronius Gracchus (153-121 B.C.), 
who were famous Rom. tribunes and 

Grace Card, The : In Kilkenny, the six of 
hearts, the card on which a member of 
the Grace family of Courtstown 
indignantly rejected the invitation of 
William III to desert to him. 

Grace Cup, The : the last cup ; the 
loving cup ; formerly passed round 
the table after grace. 

Grace Darling : the daughter of Wm. 
Darling, lighthouse-keeper on one of 
the Fame Islands, who on the 7th 
September, 1838, heroically assisted 
her father to rescue a shipwrecked 

Grace Darling of America, The : Ida 
Lewis (Mrs. W. H. Wilson), the 

165 [Grampus 

daughter of the lighthouse-keeper in 
Newport Harbour who on five occasions 
rescued or assisted in rescuing persons 
from drowning. 

Grace, To take heart of : to take courage 
from indulgence. [Heywood, Proverbes 

Gradasso, A : a bully. After a character 
in Ariosto, Orlando Furioso (151 6). 

Gradgrind, A : a ' practical ' man 
devoted to materialism. After a 
character in Dickens, Hard Times 

Gradus, A ; Gradus ad Pamassum, A 

(Lat., steps ; steps to Parnassus) : a 
Grk. or Lat. dictionary showing the 
quantities of vowels as an aid to the 
writing of Latin verse. 

Graeca ^des {Lat., Greek faith) : in 
allusion to the proverbial reputation of 
the Greeks for untrustworthiness. 

Grahamize, To : to open letters in the 
post. After Sir James Graham (1792- 
1861), who, when Home Secretary in 
1844, authorized the opening of 
Mazzini's letters by the Post Office. 

Grail, The Holy ; the San Graal (Medieval 
Fr.) : the receptacle in which Joseph 
of Arimathea is said in medieval legend 
to have received the blood of Christ 
while on the Cross. The grail was lost 
and could be recovered only by a 
knight of irreproachable character. 

Grain, Against the : uneasily ; against 
one's disposition. As cutting wood, 
etc., against the grain. [Wm. Cart- 
wright, The Ordinary, II, iii (1651)] 

Grain of mustard seed, A : a small seed 
out of which something great may 
develop. See Matthew, xiii, 31, where 
the black mustard which grows to a 
great height is probably intended. 

Grain of salt. With a : with reservations. 
A translation of the Lat. phrase. 
Cum grano salis. 

Gramercy, To get for : to get for nothing, 
merely for the thanks. Fr., grand 
merci, great thanks. 

Grammarians, The Prince of: Appo- 
lonios of Alexandria (fl. 40-30 B.C.). 
So-called by Priscian. 

Grampus, A : a person given to puffing 
and blowing, like the grampus, a sea- 

Grampus, To blow the : to drench a 
person with water. [Fred. Marryat, 
Frank Mildmay (1829)] 

Grampus, To blow like a : see Grampus. 
[Peter Pindar, Subjects for Painters : 
The Gentleman and His Wife (1797)] 


Granary of Eorope, The : Sicily. On 
account of its fertility. 

Grand Alliance, The : (i) England, 
Holland and the Empire against 
France and Spain, 1701 ; (2) England, 
Prussia, Russia, Austria and Sweden, 
against Napoleon, in 1813 ; (3) 
England, France, Russia, Japan, and 
afterwards Italy and the United States 
as well as smaller powers, against 
Germany and her allies, 191 4. 

Grand Corruption : Sir Rob. Walpole 
(1676-1745), Prime Minister, on 
account of his practice of bribery. 

Grand Monarque, Le {Fr., the Great 
Monarch) : Louis XIV of France. 

Grand Monde, Le : see Great World, The. 

Grand Old Man, The : see G.O.M. 

Grand Old Man of India, The : Dadabhai 
Naoroji (1825-1917), Indian political 
reformer. ' The father of Indian 
nationalism,' the first Indian member 
of the House of Commons. 

Grand Old Party, The ; G.O.P., The : 
the Republican Party in the United 
States. The phrase was adopted in 
the full form by members of the party 
and in the contracted form as a term 
of derision by the Democrats, about 

Grand S6rieux, An : see S6rieux. 

Grand Signior, The (//., Gran signore, 
great lord) : the Sultan of Turkey. 

Grand Tour, The : an extended tour on 
the continent, a necessary completion 
of a young gentleman's education in 
the 1 8th and the first half of the 19th 

Grande Arm6e, Le {Fr., the Great Army) : 
the army led by Napoleon against 
Russia in 1812. 

Grande Passion, La {Fr., the great 
passion) : passionate love. 

Grandisonian : chivalrous, formally 
courteous and somewhat platitudinous. 
After Sir Charles Grandison, the hero 
of Richardson's novel so entitled (175 4). 

Grandmother, This beats my : this causes 
me great surprise. 

Grandmother to suck eggs, To teach one's: 
to attempt to instruct an expert in 
his own subject. 

Grandmother's child, A : a spoilt child. 
[Scott, Marmion, Canto III (1808)] 

Grangerize, To : to add pictorial illustra- 
tions, etc., to a book already complete. 
After James Granger (1723-76), 
author of a Biographical History of 
England, written for the special pur- 
pose of extra illustrations, etc. 

166 [Gravelled 

Grangers, The : an American secret 
political society active between 1870 
and 1880 ; also known as the Order of 
Husbandry, or Patrons of Husbandry. 

Granite City (Capital), The : Aberdeen. 

Granite Redoubt, The : the Grenadiers 
of the Consular Guajd of France who 
withstood the Austrians as a wall of 
granite at the battle of Marengo in 

Granite State, The : New Hampshire. 
On account of the considerable amount 
of granite found within its borders. 

Grape-monger, A : a wine-tippler. 
[Dekker, The Seuen Deadly Sinnes : 
CandleUght (1606] 

Grapes, Sour : an object not desired 
because it is unobtainable. From 
.(Esop's fable, The Fox and the Grapes. 

Grasp the nettle. To : to face a difficulty 

Grass, To cut one's own : to earn one's 
own living. 

Grass from under a person's feet. To cut 
the : to thwart a person. 

Grass, To give : to admit oneself beaten. 
[Servius, To Virgil, Mneid, VIII, 128] 

Grass, Gone to : dead. In reference to 
the grass that grows on graves. 

Grass grow under one's feet, To let no : 
to display energy. [Udall, Ralph 
Roister Doister, III, iii, 179 (1550)] 

Grass to know where the wind sits. To 
pluck the : to make full use of one's 
powers of observation. 

Grass widow, A : a woman permanently 
or temporarily separated from her 
husband but not divorced from him. 
Corruption of ' grace widow,' a widow 
by grace of courtesy. Orig. an un- 
married mother. [Sir John Kaye, 
English in India in Calcutta Review 

Grasshopper, To sing like a : in allusion 
to the sounds made by grasshoppers 
when moving. 

Grattan's Parliament : the Irish pari, of 
1782 to 1 801 in the course of which 
Henry Grattan secured its indepen- 
dence of the English parliament. 

Grave as a judge. As : sedate and serious. 
[Wesley, Maggots (1685)] 

Grave as an owl, As : very solemn in 

Grave, To make a person turn in his : 
to do that which would cause him deep 
distress if he were still living. 

Gravelled : confounded ; nonplussed. 
Metaphor drawn from the grounding 
of a ship. [Shakespcaie, As Yon 


Like It, IV, i (1600) ; Ascham, The 
Schoolmaster, Bk. I (1570)] 

Gray : see Grey. 

Grease a person's palm (fist). To : to 
bribe. [Nat. Woodes, Conflict of 
Conscience, III, iii (1581)] 

Grease the wheels. To : by gifts or other- 
wise, to remove difficulties. [15th 

Greaser, A : a contemptuous name for 
Mexicans and other Latin Americans 
current in the U.S. The term origin- 
ated during the first war with Mexico, 
and is supposed to have been derived 
from the habits of the Mexicans. 

Great Cham of Literature, The : Samuel 
Johnson (1709-84). So-called by 
Tobias Smollett. 

Great Commoner, The : William Pitt 
the elder (1708-78). Pitt had him- 
self termed Sir John Barnard (1685- 
1764), one of the members for the City 
of London, the Great Commoner. 

Great cry and little wool : see Cry. 

Great Duke, The : the first Duke of 
Wellington (i 769-1852). 

Great Elchee, The : Stratford Canning, 
Viscount Stratford de Redcliffe (1786- 
1880), British amb. to Turkey. 
Turk., ilchi, ambassador. 

Great Elector, The : Frederick William 
(1620-88), Elector of Brandenburg. 

Great Frederick, The : Frederick II 
(1712-86), King of Prussia. 

Great Go : the popular name for the 
B.A. degree examination at Cam- 
bridge ; formerly the same as Greats 

Great Gun, A : see Gun. 

Great Hundred, A : 120. 

Great King, The : Cyrus, King of 
Persia (6th cent. B.C.). Self-styled. 

Great Magician, The : Sir Walter Scott 
(1771-1832). So-called by John Wilson. 

Great Marquis, The : (i) James Graham, 
Marquis of Montrose (1612-50), 
Scottish royalist hero ; (2) Dom 
Sebastiano Jose de Carvalho, Marquis 
de Pombal (1699-1782), Portuguese 

Great Million, A : a billion. 

Great Mogul, The : the head of the 
Mogul Empire. 

Great Moralist, The : Dr. Samuel John- 
son (1709-84). 

Great Mother, The : (i) Demeter, the 
goddess of vegetation and protectress 
of social order and of marriage ; (2) 
the Earth, according to the Delphic 

167 [Greedy 

Great Perhaps, The : the future state, 
according to Rabelais (1485-1553), 

Great Powers, The : the principal powers. 
Orig. Britain, France, Prussia, Austria 
and Russia ; later with the addition of 
Italy and the substitution of Germany 
and Austro-Hungary, for Prussia and 
Austria ; still later with the addition 
of the United States and Japan and 
the omission of Austro-Hungary. 

Great Scot(t) : an euphemism for Great 

Great Tom : the great bell of the Tom 
Gate, Christ Church, Oxford. 

Great Unknown, The : (i) Sir Walter 
Scott (1771-1832), anonymous author 
of The Waverley Novels ; term applied 
by Jas. Ballantyne, his publisher ; 
(2) Death. 

Great Unpaid, The : English justices of 
the peace or honorary magistrates. 

Great Unwashed, The : the lower classes. 
Term first applied by Edmund Burke 

Great World, The (Fr., Le grand monde) : 
aristocratic society. 

Greats : the final honours examination 
(as a rule in classics) at Oxford Uni- 

Greatest happiness of the greatest nnmher. 
The : a political maxim adopted by 
Jeremy IBentham in Liberty of the 
People (182 1). The phrase has been 
traced back in English to Hutcheson, 
Inquiry Concerning Moral Good and 
Evil, sect. 3 (1720), but it appears also 
in Plato, Republic, IV, i. 

Greatheart, A : a philanthropist and 
benefactor. After Mr. Greatheart in 
Bunyan, Pilgrim's Progress (1678). 

Grec, Un {Fr., a Greek) : a cheat. After 
a Grk. knight who was discovered 
cheating at cards in the palace of 
Louis XIV. 

Grecian, A : a member of the highest 
classical form at Christ's Hospital. 

Grecian bend. The : an affected pose of 
the body, fashionable in England 
about 1875. 

Greco, The {It., Greek) : the north-east 

Gree, To bear the : to carry off the prize ; 
to be pre-eminent. [Rob. Ferguson, 
Elegy on the Death of Scots Music, 
11. 49-52 (1772)] 
Greedy as a cow in a clover-field. As : 
[R. Cumberland, Jhe Fashionable 
Lover, I, i (1772)] 
Greedy as a hawk. As : see Hungry as a 
hawk, As, 


Greedy-guts, A : a greedy person. 
[Hey wood, Proverhes (1546)] 

Greek, A : a swindler. See Grec. 

Greek to me. It is : it is unintelligible. 
[Shakespeare, Julius Cessar, I, ii, 87 

Greek Calends, On the : see Greek 

Greek Commentator, The : Feman Nunen 
de Guzman (i 470-1553), Spanish 

Greek Cross, The : see Cross, Greek. 

Greek Drama, The Founder of the : 
iEschylus (525-456 B.C.). 

Greek Ease : laziness. In allusion to the 
proverbial laziness of the Greeks. 

Greek Faith : see Graeca Fides. 

Greek Fire : material used for setting fire 
to hostile ships , etc. S o-called because 
first used by the Greeks of the Eastern 

Greek Gift, A : a gift presented to conceal 
treachery. After the gift of a wooden 
horse presented by the Greeks to the 
Trojans, which being filled with men 
led to the capture of Troy. [Virgil, 
Mneid, II, 49] 

Greek as a Greek cobbler, To know as 
much : to have a paltry knowledge 
of the Greek language. The simile 
was used by Bentley (1662-1742), the 
classical scholar, in allusion to Joshua 
Barnes (1654-1712), the Regius Pro- 
fessor of Greek at Cambridge. 

Greek meets Greek, When : when two 
well-matched combatants meet. The 
phrase is derived from the proverb, 
' When Greek meets Greek, then comes 
the tug of war,' which itself first 
appeared, in a slightly different form, 
in Nathaniel Lee, The Rival Queens, 
IV, ii (1677). 

Greek Kalends, On the : never. There 
were no kalends in the Grk. calendar. 
The Emp. Augustus (B.C. 63-A.D. 14) 
used to say he would pay on the Greek 
kalends when he wished to intimate 
that a person would not pay at all. 
The Rom. kalends was the usual pay- 
day. Queen Elizabeth used the 
phrase in a reply to the envoys of the 
King of Spain. 

Greek Life, The : a sound mind in a 
healthy body. In allusion to the cult 
of the ' Games ' by the ancient Greeks. 

Greek, As merry as a : drunk. Possibly 
a corruption of ' As merry as a Grig ' 
(q.v.). See also Merry Greek, A. The 
Romans used to refer to the Greeks as 
fond of good living and excessive 

8 [Green 

drinking and they used the word, 
graecari, to express the idea of good 
feeding and drinking. 

Greek, To play the : (i) to drink to 
excess. See Greek, As merry as a, and 
Grec, Un ; (2) to cheat, esp. at cards. 

Greek without knowing it. To speak : to 
use medical language. [Earle, Micro- 
cosmography : A Meere Dull Phisician 

Green : young ; inexperienced ; foolish. 
From the sense of immature. [Earl of 
Surrey, Restlesse Stale of a Loner (1557); 
Shakespeare, Hamlet, I, iii, loi 

Green, The : R.C. Ireland. In allusion 
to the Irish national colour. 

Green Apron : see Apron. 

Green Cloth, The Board of : a department 
of the Lord Steward's office in the 
British royal household. From the 
green-covered table at which its 
business used to be conducted. 

Green Dogs : any extinct race. 

Green Dragoons, The : the 13th Dragoons 
now the 13th Hussars. In allusion 
to the green facings of their uniforms. 

Green in one's eye. To see any : to see 
indications of gullibility. See Green. 

Green-eyed Monster, The : jealousy. 
[Shakespeare, Merchant of Venice, III, 
ii, no (1596)] 

Green Glasses, To look through : to be 

Green Goose, A : a young goose. 

Green as grass. As : easily deceived. 
[Shakespeare, Midsummer Night's 
Dream, V, i, 326 (1590)] See Green. 

Green Hand, A : a sailor of the lowest 
class of capacity. 

Green Head, A : a young, inexperienced 
person. [Udall, Diotrephes (1588)] 

Green Horse, The : the 5th Dragoons. 
In allusion to their green facings. 

Green Howards, The : the 19th Regiment 
of Foot (Princess of Wales's Own) 
whose colonel, from 1738 to 1748, was 
the Hon. Charles Howard and whose 
facings were green. 

Green Island (Isle), The : Ireland. On 
account of its verdure. 

Green, To keep a thing : to keep a thing 
fresh (in one's memory). [Bacon, 
Essays : Of Revenge (1625)] 

Green Labour : the lowest paid labour, 
esp. in the tailoring trade. See Greener. 

Green Linnets, The : the 39th Regiment 
of Foot, now the Dorsetshire Regiment. 
In allusion to the green facings of their 


Green Men : savages. Orig. wild men 

of the woods ; later, American-Indians. 

Green Mountain Boys : troops from 

Vermont raised in 1775. See Green 

Mountain State. 

Green Mountain State, The {Fr., vert 
mont, green mountain) : Vermont. 

Green Ribbon Day : in Ireland, March 
1 8th, St. Patrick's Day, when green 
ribbon is worn as a badge by Irish- 

Green Room, The : the rest room for 
actors at the theatre. The room at 
Drury Lane appropriated to that 
purpose by Garrick had green walls. 

Green Room, To talk : to gossip about 
the theatre. See Green Room. 

Green Rushes for Strangers : a symbol of 
hospitality. From the former practice 
of strewing fresh rushes as a carpet 
when about to entertain a distin- 
guished guest. [Jno. Heywood, 
Proverbes (1546)] 

Green Sea, The : the Persian Gulf. In 
allusion to the colour of a strip of 
water near the Arabian Coast. 

Green Sleeves, A : a flirt ; an inconstant 
girl lover. [A New Northern Ditty of 
the Lady Green Sleeves (1580)] 

Green Thursday : Maundy Thursday. 

Green Wound, A : a recent, unhealed 
wound. [Richard of Gloucester (1297)] 

Greenback, A : a U.S. currency note, 
with its back printed in green. The 
name is said to have been invented by 
Salmon Portland Chase (1808-73), 
Amer. statesman. 

Greenback Party, The : an Amer. political 
party (1874-84) which advocated the 
payment of the American National 
Debt in paper money. See Greenback. 

Greenbacker, A : an advocate of the 
issue to an unlimited extent of paper 
money. See Greenback. 

Oreenbag, A : a lawyer. In allusion to 
the bag in which legal papers used to 
be carried. 

Greener, A (Germ., ein griiner, a 
green or foolish one) : one who is 
inexperienced ; esp. a recently arrived 
alien workman. [Daily Chronicle, 
April 18, 1888] See Green. 

Greengage, A : a green plum introduced 
into England by Sir Wm. Gage 
(c. 1725). 

Greenhorn, A : a raw youth. An 
allusion to the undeveloped horns of 
a male calf. 

Greening for . . To have a : to have a 
liking for . . 



Greenlandman's Galley : the extreme of 
bad language. In allusion to the 
customary obscenity of Greenland 

Greenwich Barber, A : one who sells sand 
from the Greenwich pits. Greenwich 
barbers are said to ' shave the pits.' 

Greenwich Time : standard time in 
accordance with the meridian of 

GregO, A (Port., Greek) : a kind of 
short cloak or jacket, such as those 
worn by Greeks in the Levant. 

Gregorian, A : a wig. After Gregory, a 
barber in the Strand, who first made 
them in England. 

Gregorian Calendar, The : the calendar 
in general use, introduced by Pope 
Gregory XIII in 1582. 

Gregorian Chant, A : a plain chant used 
in church services and introduced by 
Pope Gregory I in the 6th cent. 

Gregorian Tones : see Gregorian chant. 

Gregorian Tree, The : the gallows. From 
Gregory (sen.), Gregory (jun.) and 
Gregory Brandon, three successive 
hangmen of London in the reign of 
James I. 

Gregorian Water : Holy water. After 
Pope Gregory I who strongly advo- 
cated the use of it. 

Gregorian Year, A : a year according to 
the Gregorian Calendar {q.v.). 

Gregory, A : a school feast. After St. 
Gregory's Day, March 12, a scholars' 

Gregory, A : a hangman. See Gregorian 

Gregory knights (St. Gregory's Knights) : 
contemptible boasters ; sham soldiers. 
After the children who played at 
soldiers on St. Gregory's Day. 

Gregory Powder : a medical drug. After 
James Gregory (1758-1822), Scot, 

Grenadiers : orig. troops employed in 
throwing hand grenades. 

Gresham, To dine with Sir Thomas : see 

Gretchen, A : an unsophisticated Germ, 
girl. After the heroine of Goethe's 

Gretna Green : a village just over the 
Scot, border, famous for the celebration 
of runaway marriages, which could 
not be effected in England. Such 
marriages were prevented by legis- 
lation in 1856. 

Gretna (Gretna Green) Marriages : see 
Gretna Green. 



Orey Cloak, A : an alderman who has 
served as mayor. In allusion to the 
colour of the fur on his costume. 

Grey Goat, A : a Cumberland yeoman. 
In allusion to the colour of the home- 
spun clothing of that county. 

Grey Friars : Franciscans or Friars of the 
Order of St. Francis. In allusion to 
the colour of their clothing. 

Grey Goose wing, A : an arrow, which 
used to be winged with grey goose 

Grey Groat, A : an object of little value. 

Grey hairs with sorrow to the grave. To 
bring down one's : to cause pain and 
sorrow to an old man. [Genesis, 
xlii, 38] 

Grey Mare, A : a wife who rules her 
husband. In allusion to the proverb, 
' The grey mare is the better horse.' 

Grey of the Morning, The : the twilight. 
[Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet, III, v, 

19 (1591-3)] 

Greybeard, A : (i) an old man ; (2) a 
large earthenware jug or jar for spirits. 

Greycoat, A : a Russian soldier. In 
allusion to the colour of his coat. 

Greycoat Parson, A : an impropriator 
or tenant who hires the tithes. 

Grief, To come to : to meet with mis- 
fortune, in material affairs. 

Griffin, As rich as a : in allusion to the 
fabulous animals, the griffins, which, 
according to Grk. legend, used to keep 
watch over the gold of Scythia. 

Griffin, A young : a cadet from India, 
half English, half Indian. In allusion 
to the fabulous monster, the griffin, 
half lion, half eagle. 

Griffiths, A : a safe man. A pun, in 
allusion to the firm of C. H. Griffiths 
and Sons, safe manufacturers (19th 
and 20 cents.). 

Grig, As merry as a : the term ' grig ' 
has, or has had, many meanings. It is 
in one place or another a synonym for 
a short-legged hen, a young eel, a 
grasshopper, a cricket, a tadpole, a 
gnat dancing in the sun, a bantam, a 
young child, a wandering dancer and 
tumbler ; in fact, anything that moves 
with a light, lively motion. It has 
also been suggested that the phrase is 
a corruption of ' As merry as a Greek ' j 
{q.v.). See also Merry Greek, A. | 
[Vanbrugh and Gibber, The Provoked i 
Husband, V, i (1728)] i 

Grig, To swim like a : in this phrase 
' grig ' is employed as a synonym for 
an eel. 


Grille, The : the lattice in front of the 
Ladies' Gallery in the House of 
Commons, abolished in 1917. 

Grim Death, Like : doggedly. [Shakes- 
peare, Taming of the Shrew, Ind., i, 
35 (1596)] 

Grim, The Giant : a giant. [Bunyan, 
Pilgrim's Progress (1678)] 

Grimalkin : (i) an old cat, lit., grey 
malkin (a dimin. of Maud or Matilda) ; 
(2) a fiend supposed to resemble a 
grey cat. 

Grim-gribber : legal proceedings. The 
name of an imaginary estate referred 
to in a legal discussion in Steele, 
Conscious Lovers (1722). 

Grin and bear it. To : to show no other 
sign of impatience than a grin in sub- 
mitting to unpleasantness. 

Grind a person down. To : to deal 
harshly with ; to oppress. [Bacon, 
Advice to VUliers (1626)] 

Grind for an examination. To : to study 
intently for an examination. Meta- 
phor derived from a mill. 

Grind the face of . . To : to oppress ; 
to deal harshly with . . {Isaiah, iii, 

Grind, To take a : to take a walk ; to 

take part in a steeplechase. Univ. 

Grinder, To take a : to make an offensive 

gesture with the hand and the nose. 

[Dickens, Pickwick Papers, xxxi 

Grindstone, To hold (tie) a person's nose 

to the : see Nose. 
Gringo, A : a Mexican name for an 

inhabitant of the United States. 
Griselda ; Ghrisilda, A : a patient, faithful 

wife ; from the name of a character in 

one of Boccaccio's Decameron. [Geo. 

Cavendish, Life and DecUh of Wolsey 

Grisette, A : a young Frenchwoman of 

the working classes ; orig. a cheap, 

coarse dress of grey cloth worn 

generally by working women. Fr., 

gris, grey. 
Grist to the mill. To bring : to afford one 

an advcintage or an opportunity of 

profit. [Golding, Calvin on Deut., 

cxxiii, 755 (1583)] 
Groaning Cake, A : a cake provided for 

visitors to a woman after childbirth. 

[Groaning (dial.), lying in] 
Groaning Chair, The : the chair in which 

a wo:nan recovering from childbirth 

receives her friends. See Groaning 




Groaning Cheese : see Groaning Cake. 

Groaning Malt : liquid refreshment 
provided for visitors to a woman after 
childbirth. See Groaning Cake. 

Groat, An old Harry : see Harry Groat. 

Groats in kail. To get : to be paid in one's 
own coin. 

Grobian, A : a boor ; a clown. After 
Grobianus, an imaginary person 
referred to by Germ, writers in the 15th 
and 1 6th cents, as the type of boorish- 
ness. See Grobianus et Grobiana, 
books of rules how to be boorish 
(1549-58) by Dedekind. 

Grog : a mixture of rum or other spirit 
and water. From ' Old Grog ' (Adm. 
Edw. Vernon (1684- 175 7) who wore a 
grogram cloak, and diluted the sailors' 
rum with water (1740). 

Groggy : intoxicated ; unsteady or 
staggering, more or less resembling 
one of the symptoms of intoxication. 
See Grog. 

Grograms, Blood of the : see Blood. 

Grolier, A : bookbinding in a highly 
decorative style. From Jean Grolier 
(1479-1565), Fr. statesman, patron of 
learning and book collector. 

Grosbec (Fr., gros bee, large nose) : 
Napoleon III. A nickname given on 
account of his large nose. 

Ground, To break : to commence an 

Ground, To bring to the : to over- 

Ground from under, To cut the : to 
deprive of one's basis or support. 

Ground, To be dashed to the : (of hopes), 
to fail to be realized ; to come to 

Ground, Down to the : completely. 
[Judges, XX, 21, 25] 

Ground, To fall to the : (of schemes), to 
fail to become realized. 

Ground, To gain : to make progress in 
an undertaking. 

Ground, To hold one's : to maintain 
one's position. 

Ground, To lose : to be out-distanced in 
competition ; to fall away instead of 
maintaining one's position. 

Ground, To meet a person on his own : 
to contend or argue with a person on 
a matter or in circumstances of his 
own choice. 

Ground, To stand one's : to maintain 
one's position in argument or other- 

Ground-floor, To get in on the : to 
obtain an opportunity for a fortunate 


speculation or investment in advance 
of others or of the general public. 

Groundling, A : an uncultivated spectator 
of a play, or reader. In allusion to 
those who occupy the ground or pit of 
a theatre. [Shakespeare, Hamlet, III, 
ii, 12 (1602-3)] 

Grouse's Day, St. ; Grouse, Festival of 
St. : Aug. 12th ; the day on which 
grouse shooting commences. 

Grout-head, A : a stupid person. [Bale, 
English Votaries, II, E iii (1550)] 

Growler, A : a four-wheeled hackney- 
carriage. In allusion to the proverbial 
bad temper of their drivers. 

Grub Street : unattached writers for 
journals and publishers as a body, as a 
rule underpaid. After Milton Street, 
formerly Grub Street, in London, 
where such writers used to congregate. 

Gruel, To get one's : to receive punish- 

Gruel, To give a person his : to punish 
(defeat) a person. 

Gruelling, A : a punishment. From the 
phrase, ' To get one's gruel,' to receive 

Grumbletonians : a name of the Country 
Party in Great Britain, borne at the 
end of the 17th cent. An invented 

Ghrundy, Mrs. : an imaginary censor of 
public and private morals. After a 
character in Thomas Morton, Speed 
the Plough (1798), who was set up by 
one of the other characters in the play 
as a standard of propriety. 

Grundyism, A : conventionalism ; 
prudery. See Grundy, Mrs. 

Guam, To clear out for : see Clear. 

Gudgeon, A bait to catch a : anything 
that will deceive a credulous person. 
For ' Gudgeon ' as a synonym for a 
credulous person, see Shakespeare, 
Merchant of Venice, I, iii (1596). 

Gudgeon, To play the : to deceive ; to 
cheat. In allusion to the use of a 
gudgeon a.s a bait. 

Gudgeon, To swallow a : to be easily 
deceived. See Gudgeons, To gape for. 
[Lyly, Euphties : The Anatomy of 

Wit (1579)] 

Gudgeons, To bite like : to show oneself 
credulous. See Gudgeon, A bait to 
catch a. [Peter Pindar, Lyric Odes to 
the Royal Academicians, IX (1783)] 

Gudgeons, To gape for : to be easily 
deceived. In allusion to the attract- 
iveness of a gudgeon as a bait. 
[Holinshed, II, 91-2 (1577)] 


Guelph Fund, The : the sum agreed to 
be paid by Prussia to the King of 
Hanover as compensation for the 
cancellation of his sovereign rights in 
1866. This sum was afterwards seized 
by Prussia and used for subventioning 
the Germ, press. 

Ouelph or Ghibelline, Either : one party 
or the other. The Geulphs and the 
Ghibellines were the Papal and 
Imperial parties respectively in 
medieval Italy. [Ascham, The 
Schoolmaster, Bk. I (1570)] 

Ouerre des Amoureuz, Le {Fr., War of 
the lovers) : the war between Henry 
III of France and Henry of Navarre in 
1580, which arose out of a court 

Ouevarist, A : a writer in a very ornate 
or euphuistic style. After Antonio de 
Guevara (c. 1490-1544), Span, writer. 

Guillotine, The : (i) a machine for 
decapitating criminals and other 
offenders ; (2) a system of closure of 
pari, discussion on a measure by means 
of time-limits for the consideration of 
different clauses or groups of clauses. 
After Jos. Ignatius Guillotin (1738- 
1814), a Fr. physician, who advocated 
its adoption in place of the rack and 
other instruments of torture during 
the French Revolution. 

Guinea, A : an obsolete Eng. gold coin ; 
the sum of 21 shillings. Orig. coined 
from gold from the Guinea Coast of 
Africa, which was captured from the 
Dutch in 1666. 

Guinea-pig, A : (i) a midshipman in the 
East Ind. Service: just as a guinea- 
pig is neither a pig nor has any 
connection with the Guinea Coast, so a 
midshipman is neither an ofl&cer nor a 
sailor ; (2) a director of a public com- 
pany who accepts the office merely for 
the fees attached to it : in allusion to 
a guinea, the standard fee paid to 
directors for attendance at a meeting ; 
(3) a special juryman who is paid a 
guinea a case ; (4) a military officer on 
special duty who receives an allowance 
of a guinea a day ; {5) a clergyman of 
the Church of England acting as a 
substitute, who receives payment of a 
guinea a sermon. 

Guinever, A : a wanton. After the 
Queen of King Arthur. 

Gules of August, The : the ist of August. 
Lat., gula, the throat or entrance into. 

Gulf between, A great : a separation or 
division almost impassable. 



Gulf States, The : Florida, Alabama, 
Mississippi, Louisiana and Texas ; the 
states of the Union which border on 
the Gulf of Mexico. 

Gum tree, Up a : at the end of one's 
tether. An Americanism. 

Gummed velvet. To fret like : velvet was 
formerly occasionally treated with 
gum to make it stiff and then quickly 
fretted itself out. 

Gun, A great : a person of distinction or 
importance. Prob. a transfer from 
the ordnance sense as distinguished 
from a small gun or musket. [Peter 
Pindar, Progress of Knowledge (1792)] 

Gun money : money coined by James II 
in Ireland from gun-metal. 

Gvm, Son of a : (i) a somewhat con- 
temptuous designation, applied orig. 
to boys bom aboard ship, the child of a 
naval officer or officer of the mercantile 
marine ; {2) a jovial fellow. In 
allusion to ' gun ' in the sense of a 
flagon of ale. 

Guns, To blow great : see Blow. 

Guns, To run away from one's own : see 

Guns, To stand (stick) to one's : see 

Gunner's daughter. The : the gun to 
which a seaman was bound while he 
received punishment. A naval term. 

Gunter, According to : correctly and 
systematically. After Edmund 
Gunter (1581-1626), Eng. mathe- 
matician and inventor. 

Gutter-blood, A : a person of low birth. 
[Scott, Fortunes of Nigel, ch. 7 (1822)] 

Gutter snipe, A : a child of the lowest 
class, brought up in the gutters ; one 
who rakes among the refuse of the 
gutter for rags, etc. 

Guy, A ; Guy Fawkes, A : a person of 
ludicrous appearance. In allusion to 
the effigy of Guy Fawkes, conspirator, 
conveyed through the streets on 
the 5th November, in commemoration 
of his abortive plot. 

Gyges, As rich as : very wealthy. Gyges 
was King of Lydia from 716 to 678 B.C. 

Gsrpsy : see Gipsy. 

Hab or nab {Med. Eng., Have or not 
have): win or fail; at random. [Hey- 
wood, Proverbes (1546)] 

Habeas Corpus : one of the foundations 
of British liberty ; the Act of Parlia- 
ment (1679) which requires a jailer to 
produce every prisoner for trial. 


(Lat.) You are to produce the body, 
the opening words of an old writ in 
English law calling upon the custodian 
of a prisoner to produce his charge 
in court. 

Habeas Corpus Act of Rome, The : the 
Lex Valeria de Provocatione (509 B.C.). 

Habitans : the Fr.-Canad. farmers in the 
Province of Quebec. 

Hack, A : a hired horse or carriage ; a 
literary or other drudge. Abbrevi- 
ation of hackney (q.v.). [Chaucer, 
Canterbury Tales (14th cent.)] 

Hack, A literary : see Hack. 

Hack writing : see Hack. 

Hackney (horse), A {Fr., haquen^e) : a 
saddle-horse, not thoroughbred ; a 
hired horse. [Paston Letters, No. 446 

Hackney coach (carriage) : a hired coach. 
Fr., haquenie, any horse that is not 
thoroughbred ; hence a hired coach- 

Hackney woman, A : a prostitute ; one 
who hires herself out. 

Hackneyed : of an expression, etc., so 
frequently used as to have lost its 

Haddock to paddock. To bring : to waste 
all one's possessions. [Heywood, 
Proverbes (1546)] 

Hades : the infernal regions. After the 
name of the Grk, god of the lower 

Hagiographa, The : the third Jewish 
division of the Old Testament, viz., 
Chronicles, Ruth, Esther, Ezra, 
Nehemiah, Job, Psalms, Proverbs, 
Song of Songs, Ecclesiastes, Lamen- 
tations and Daniel. 

Hague Congress, The : a congress of the 
Powers, held at The Hague in 1899, to 
consider the question of international 
disarmament. Out of the Congress 
arose an international court of arbi- 

Hail fellow well met, A : one on intimate 
and friendly terms. From the 
greeting ' Hail Fellow ! ' 

Hair, Against the : against the grain ; 
lit., contrary to the direction in which 
an animal's hair lies naturally. [T. 
Usk, Testament of Love, II, iv (1387)] 

Hair, To a : exactly. [Ben Jonson, 
Cynthia's Revels, II, i (1600)] 

Hair curl. To make a person's : see 

Hair to draw a waggon, To take a : to 
act foolishly and to no purpose. From 
an ancient Grk. proverb. 

173 [Halgaver 

Hair and hide (i) ; Hair and hoof (2) : 

entirely. [(1) St. Cuthbert (1450) ; 
Jean Irvine, Collection of Dying 
Testaments (1705)] 

Hair to make a tether of, A : an excuse 
for much fuss. 

Hair in one's neck, A : a cause of 
annoyance. [Rate's Ravine, III (1450)] 

Hair, Not to turn a : to remain un- 
disturbed despite surrounding excite- 
ment. Lit. of a horse, not to sweat 
and roughen its hair in consequence 
of fear or disturbance. 

Hair of . . Within a : within very little 
of .. 

Hair's breadth, A : the minimum of 
narrowness. [Heywood, Proverbes 
(1546) ; Lilly, Gallathea, II, iii (1592)] 

Hairs, To split : to enter into and to 
give undue importance to minutiae. 

Halcyon days : days of peace and restful- 
ness ; the days immediately preceding 
and succeeding the shortest day, which 
are supposed to be free from storms. 
From ' halcyon,' a name for the king- 
fisher which is supposed to lay her 
eggs during the halcyon days. 

Half, One's better : one's wife. 

Half-lights, At : indistinctly. [Bacon, 
Essays : Of Simulation (1625)] 

Halfseas over : intoxicated. A nautical 
term for a ship in full sail rushing 
before the wind. From a resemblance 
between the movements of the man 
and of the ship if the wind is subject to 
changes. Said to have been derived 
orig. from Dutch, op zee zober, over sea 
beer. [The Spectator, No. 616 (171 4)] 

Half-breeds : see Featherheads. 

Half-done, as Elgin was burnt : in the 
Scottish civil war of 1452, the Earl of 
Huntley burnt the half of the town of 
Elgin that belonged to the Douglases, 
but spared the other half which was 
his own property. 

Half-hearted ; not thorough ; not having 
the whole of one's heart, energies, or 
interest in the matter. 

Halfway house, A : a building, generally 
an inn, situated approximately half- 
way between two towns, or stages in a 

Halfway, To meet : to make a compro- 
mise with . . [Nashe, Unfortunate 
Traveller (1594)] 

Halgaver, Summoned before the Mayor 
of : for an offence against the laws of 
tidiness. The mayor was a personage 
in the Carnival held in July on the 
Moor of Halgaver in Cornwall. 



Halidom, By my {Germ., Heilightm) : 
an oath. Halidom =» anything con- 
sidered holy. 

Halifax Law : capital punishment for a 
relatively trivial offence. In allusion 
to the Halifax Gibbet Law which laid 
down death as the punishment for the 
theft of anything of the valne of 
i3i pence or over. 

Hall Sunday : the Sunday before Shrove 
Tuesday. A corruption of Hallow 
(Holy) Tuesday. 

Hallelujah lass, A : a girl member of the 
Salvation Ariay. 

Hallmark, A : a stamp of genuineness 
and quality. Orig. only the stamp 
impressed on gold and silver plate by 
the Goldsmith's Company at their Hall. 

HaUow Mass Day : properly All Hallow 
Mass Day. The feast of All Hallows 
or All Saints. 

Hallow mass Eve : AH Hallow Mass 
Eve : see Hallow Mass Day. 

Hallstadt : relating or belonging to 
European prehistoric civilization. In 
allusion to Hallstadt in Austria where 
a collection of weapons, etc., illus- 
trating the transition from the bronze 
to the iron age was found. 

Halves, To go : to share equally. 

Ham, A child of : a negro. In allusion 
to the supposed descent of the inhabi- 
tants of Africa from Ham, the son of 

Hamaco, As mad as : Hamaco was a 
term used for a fool in Turkey. [Scott, 
St Ronan's Well, ch. 37 (1824)] 

Haman's, A gibbet higher than : in 
allusion to the gallows on which 
Haman was hanged. See the Book of 

Hamilton, The Reek of Mr. Patrick : 
Patrick Hamilton (1504-28) was 
burnt to death by Cardinal Beaton. His 
martyrdom was one of the contributing 
causes of the Reformation in Scotland. 

Hamilton, Single-speech : William 
Gerard Hamilton (1729-96), Eng. 
politician. His maiden speech in the 
House of Commons was a remarkable 
success and gained for him the 

Hamlet, A : an introspective, philo- 
sophical man of dreams rather than 
of action. In allusion to the hero of 
Shakespeare's play of that name 

Hamlet with the part of the Prince left 
out : with the principal character 
omitted ; just as Shakespeare's 


Hamlet would be if the character of the 
Prince of Denmark were lacking. 

Hammer, The : Judas Maccabaeus. 
Maccabaeus = a hammer. 

Hammer and anvil. Between : caught 
between two opposing forces. [Rabe- 
lais, Pantagruel, IV, 29 ; Second 
Maiden's Tragedy, I, ii (161 1)] 

Hammer away at . . To : to devote one- 
self energetically to . . 

Hammer, To be brought under the : to 
be sold by auction. In allusion to the 
auctioneer's hammer. 

Hammer, To go under the : to be sold by 
auction. In allusion to the auctioneer's 

Hammer of Heretics, The : (i) Pierre 
d'Ailly (1350-1420), Fr. Cardinal and 
President of the Council of Constance ; 
(2) John Faber (1470-1541), from the 
title of his work. Malleus Hereticorum, 
the hammer of heretics. 

Hammer of the Monks, The : Thomas 
Cromwell (i 490-1 540), Eng. religious 
reformer and suppressor of the 

Hammer of the Scots, The : Edward I of 
England. So-called in his epitaph 
on his tomb in Westminster Abbey 
{Malleus Scotorum). 

Hammer and Tongs : violent disputing. 
A corruption of hammer and tongues. 

Hammered, To be : to be declared a 
defaulter on the Stock Exchange. The 
procedure is for the head Stock Ex- 
change waiter to strike three strokes 
with a mallet on the side of a rostrum 
in the Exchange before making formal 
declaration of the default of a member. 

Hampden, A village : a local patriot. 
After John Hampden, Eng. patriot, 
who lived from 1594-1643. [Gray, 
Elegy in a Country Churchyard (1751)] 

Hfin, Sons of : the Chinese. After H4n, 
the founder of the 26th dynasty. 

Hanaper, The Clerk of the : an officer of 
the Hanaper Office. 

Hanaper Office, The : the dept. of 
Chancery, abolished in 1832, which 
collected fees for the sealing and enrol- 
ment of documents. After the hanaper 
(hamper) or wicker basket in which 
such documents were kept until the 
fees were paid. 

Hand, To bear (lend) a : to assist. 

Hand, Done to one's : see Done. 

Hand that feeds one. To bite the : see Bite. 

Hand over fist : with great rapidity. 

Hand and foot. To be bound : to be 
strictly controlled. 

Band] 175 

Hand and foot. To wait on a person : 

to be devotedly attentive to a per- 

Hand gallop, A : a gallop during which 
the horse is kept easily in hand or under 

Hand in. To get one's : to become 
familiar with (an occupation) . [Dekker 
and Webster, Westward Ho, II, i 

Hand and glove : in close intimacy ; as 
close as hand and glove are to one 
another. [Cowper, Table Talk, 1. 173 

Hand at . . To be a good : to be an 
expert at . . 

Hand grips with . . To be at : to be 
engaged in a close contest with . . 

Hand in hand with . . : in close co- 
co-operation with . . [Chapman, 
Monsieur D'Olive, I, i (1606)] 

Hand over hand : with great rapidity. 

Hand to hand contest, A : a contest at 
close quarters. Also Hand with hand, 
Hand by hand. Hand of hand. Hand 
for hand. [Early 13th cent.] 

Hand in . . To have a : to take part in . . 
[Shakespeare, Julius Ccesar, III, ii 

Hand and heart. To offer one's : to 
propose marriage. [Shakespeare, The 
Tempest, III, i, 89-90 (1609-10)] 

Hand know what one's right hand does. 
Not to let one's left : to act secretly, 
esp. in the performance of good deeds. 
[Matthew, vi, 3] 

Hand to mouth. From : thriftlessly ; 
without preparation or reserves. Like 
one who consumes all the available 
food as soon as he receives it. 

Hand, An old : a person with much 

Hand, An old Parliamentary : a politician 
well versed in parliamentary pro- 
cedure and able to take full advantage 
of all its opportunities. Phrase applied 
by W. E. Gladstone to himself in a 
speech in the House of Commons on 
Jan. 22, 1886. 

Hand, Out of: (i) immediately [Hay- 
wood, Proverbes (1546)] ; (2) beyond 

Hand for all it is worth. To play one's : 
see Play. 

Hand to the plough. To put one's : to 
undertake a task ; to enter upon a 
course of life or undertaking. [Luke, 
ix, 62] 
Hand in one's pocket. To put one's : to 
pay money. 


Hand at .. To be a poor : to be unskilful 
at .. 

Hand and seal. Under : confirmed in 
writing. When writing was an un- 
common accomplishment, a signature 
to a document took the form of the 
impression of the hand (later the 
thumb only) dipped in ink together 
with the impression of a seal. 

Hand, To shew one's : to disclose one's 
intentions. A card-playing metaphor 
derived from the game of poker. 

Hand, By the strong : by force. [Exodus, 
vi, i] 

Hand, The upper : the advantage ; 
precedence. [Ascham, Toxophilus 

Hand, A young : a person with little 

Hands, Off one's : out of one's charge. 

[Rutherford, Letters, I, ccx (1636)] 
Hands, To change : to pass from the 

possession of one person into that of 

Hands, Clean : a clear record, above 

suspicion. [WyclifEe, Transl. of Job 

Hands of . . To fall into (be in) the : to 

fall into (be in) the power of . . 

[Cicero, Brutus, xxxv, 133] 
Hands full. To have one's : to be fully 

occupied. [Heywood, Proverbes (1546)] 
Hands, With full : lavishly. 
Hands on . . To lay : to do violence to . . 

[Bp. Hall, Characters : The Wise Man, 

Bk. I (1608)] 
Hands of . . To play into the : to act, 

unknowingly, for the advantage of 

another person. [The Spectator, 

No. 423 (1712)] 
Hands of • . To strengthen the : to 

support and assist. [Ezra, i, 6] 
Hands, To strike : to make an agreement. 

In allusion to the practice of clasping 

hands on such an occasion. [Proverbs, 

vii, i] 
Hands of . . To wash one's : to decline 

to have anything to do with . . After 

Pontius Pilate's washing of his hands 

at the trial of Jesus. 
Handfasting : betrothal. In allusion to 

the practice of joining hands as an 

indication of betrothal. 
Handful, To be a : to be rather more than 

can comfortably be dealt with or 

Handgrips with . . To be at : to contest 

with . . In allusion to a hand-to- 
hand struggle. [Bunyan, The Holy 

War (1682)] 


Handkerchief to . . To throw the : to 

hint one's preference for a man, to in- 
vite his attention. After a children's 
game known as ' Kiss in the Ring ' 
and by other names. 

Handle to . . To give a : to give some 
justification for a suspicion. 

Handle to one's name, A : a personal 
title of honour. 

Handle without gloves. To : to deal with 
very severely, unmercifully. A 
pugilistic metaphor. 

Handsel : see Hansel. 

Handsome Englishman, The : John 
Churchill, Duke of Marlborough (1650- 
1722). So-called by the French 

Handsomely, To act : to be generous, 

Handsuppers : Boers who surrendered 
to the British in the course of the 
Boer War of 1899- 1902. 

Handwriting on the wall : a warning of 
an approaching calamity. [Daniel, v] 

Handy man, A : a sailor. Since the 
bombardment of Alexandria, after 
which a naval force was landed in 
Egypt, a variety of duties, apart from 
those relating to ships, have been 
imposed on the British naval forces. 

Hang back. To : to display unwillingness 
to come forward. [Geo. Pettie, 
Guazzo's Civile Conversation, II (1581)] 

Hang on. To : to keep attached to after 
one's company is no longer desired. 

Hang out. To : to lodge. [Lexicon 
Balatroniciim (181 1)] 

Hang together. To : of people, to keep 
united in a company. [Shakespeare, 
Merry Wives of Windsor, III, ii {1598)] 

Hang in the bell ropes. To : to defer a 
marriage after the banns have 
been called in church. 

Hang, Not to care a : to be quite 

Hangdog look, A : a guilty appearance 
that would justify hanging like a dog. 

Hang fire. To : to delay the accomplish- 
ment ; to come to no decisive result. 
A military metaphor. 

Hang of . . To get the : to make oneself 
familiar with the working or use of . . 

Hang by a thread. To : to be in a very 
critical condition. In allusion to the 
story of the sword which was suspended 
by a hair over the head of Damocles 
at a feast to which he was invited by 
Dionysius of Syracuse. [Cicero, 
Tusculanae Dispntationes, V, 21 ; 
Horace, Odes III, i, 17] 



Hang upon the lips of . . To : to listen 
intently to the words of . . [Ovid, 
Heroides : Penelope Ulixi, 1. 30 ; Jos. 
Hall, Characters : The Flatterer, Bk. 
II (1608)] 

Hanged for a sheep as a lamb. As well be : 
once one has committed an offence 
involving punishment one need not 
hesitate to commit further offences 
which will involve no greater 

Hanger-on, A : an extra-subservient 
dependant. [B. Jonson, Cynthia's 
Revels, V, iii (1600)] 

Hanging judge, A : a very severe judge ; 
who theoretically is always ready to 
condemn the guilty to death by 
hanging. [Maxwell Gray, The Silence 
of Dean Maitland, Bk. I, ch. 16 (1886)] 

Hanging look, A : a personal appearance 
that suggests a tendency towards 
crime and therefore a justification for 
hanging. [Shakespeare, Measure for 
Measure, IV, ii, 34-5 (1603)] 

Hanging matter, A : a serious matter ; 
one which theoretically may involve 
the punishment of hanging. [Shakerley 
Marmion, The Antiquary, V, i (1641)] 

Hangman's Day : Friday. In allusion 
to the former custom of executing 
criminals on that day. 

Hannibal, A : a great general. After 
Hannibal (249-183 B.C.), Cartha- 
ginian general and statesman. 

Hannibal is at the gates : great and 
urgent danger threatens. After the 
fear aroused in Rome of the Cartha- 
ginians under Hannibal {q.v.). 

Hans en kelder [Dutch, Jack in cellar) : 
an unborn child. [Cleaveland, 
Character of a London Diurnall (1647)] 

Hans von Rippach : an imaginary 
personage ; one who does not exist. 
Rippach is a village in Saxony. 

Hansa : see Hanse Towns. 

Hansard : the ofi&cial reports of the 
British Parliamentary proceedings. 
After the name of the firm of printers 
who printed the reports during the 
1 8th and 19th cents. 

Hanse Towns, The ; Hanseatic League, 
The : (Hansa, association), a federa- 
tion, for commercial and defence 
purposes, of a number of North German 
towns. It held for a time the position 
of one of the Powers of Europe. The 
League ajose out of a treaty between 
Liibeck and Hamburg in 1241 and 
lasted in name until its incorporation 
in the German Empire in 1871. 


Hansel (Ang.-Sax., handselen, to deliver 
into the hand) : (i) a bribe; (2) a 
gift ; (3) the first money received 
for the sale of goods and as a conse- 
quence considered an indication of 
fortune (good or bad). 

Hansel Monday : the first Monday in 
the year, when it was the practice to 
present gifts to servants. 

Hansom cab, A ; Hansom, A : a two- 
wheeled hackney-cab. After Jos. Aloy- 
sius Hansom (1803-82), the inventor. 

Happy as a clam at high tide. As : ex- 
ceedingly happy. At high tide a clam 
or bivalve mollusc is quite safe from 
enemies. [Dow, Sermons (? 1636)] 

Happy as a king. As : (i) contented ; 
(2) slightly drunk. [Tragical History 
of Guy, Earl of Warwick (1661)] 

Happy despatch. The : suicide, or rather 
Hara-kiri {q.v.). 

Happy hunting grounds. The : life after 
death. In accordance with the North 
American Indian conception. 

Happy Valley, The : the garden of peace 
in Johnson, Rasselas (1759), which it 
was almost impossible either to enter 
or to leave. 

Hara-kiri (Jap-, stomach-cutting): suicide 
in honourable circumstances. Orig. by 
means of an opening in the stomach. 

Harcourt's Bound Table : the meeting of 
the Liberal leaders in Sir William 
Harcourt's house in January, 1887, to 
ascertain whether an agreement 
between them on the Irish Question 
was not possible. 

Hard at hand : close by. [Marlowe, 
Tarnburlaine, II, iii (1590)] 

Hard as iron, As : very hard. [Propertius, 
I, xvi, 30 ; Thos. Lodge, Wit's Miserie 
and Worlde Madnesse (1596)] 

Hard as nails. As : exceedingly hard ; 

Hard as the nether millstone. As : 
obdurate ; hard-hearted. The lower 
or nether millstone is supposed to be 
the harder of the two. [Job, xli, 24] 

Hard as steel. As : hard-hearted. 
[_rowneley Mysteries, 288 (14th cent.) ; 
Shakespeare, Two Gentlemen of 
Verona, I, i, 135 (1590)] 

Hard as a stone. As : [Wycliffe (1382) ; 
Pety Job, 318 (1400) ; Ovid, Ars 
Amatoria, Bk. I, 475] 

Hard up : in financial straits. Orig. a 
slang term for ' Hard put to it.' 

Hard with . . To go : to cause annoyance 
or difficulty to . . [Cyril Tourneur, 
The Revenger's Tragedy, II, i (1607)] 



Hardouin would not object. E'en : a 

phrase used in apology for a statement 
to which exception might be taken on 
the ground of its authenticity. Jean 
Hardouin (i 646-1 729), librarian to 
Louis XIV, archaeologist and numis- 
matist, was notable for his extreme 
scepticism in matters of archaeology 
and history. 

Hardshell : (i) in 1850, a supporter of 
Senator Benton in his advocacy of 
' hard money ' ; (2) in 1852 et seq. the 
more conservative faction of the 
Democratic Party in New York State ; 
(3) the stricter section of Baptists. 

Hard swearing : perjury ; keeping 
tenaciously to one's statements under 
oath, heedless of the truth. 

Hardy Annual, A : a measure that comes 
frequently before parliament but is 
never adopted. 

Hare, First catch your : make sure of 
the preliminaries before you begin to 
consider the next step. The phrase is 
attributed to Mrs. Hannah Glasse, 
The Art of Cookery (1747), but it is not 
to be found there. The basis of the 
phrase is probably the instruction 
Take your hare when it is cased,' 
i.e., skinned. 

Hare in a hen's nest. To seek a : to 
attempt a task that is almost im- 
possible. [Porter, Two Angry Women 
of Abington, 11. 2407-9 (1599)] 

Hare and hunt with the hounds, To hold 
with the : to endeavour to secure the 
favour of both parties in a controversy 
or contest. [15th cent.] 

Hare of • . To make a : to cover with 

Hare, To start a : to open a subject that 
will temporarily absorb the attention 
of the company. [Paston Letters, 
No. 721 (1473)] 

Hare with a tabor. To catch (hunt for) a : 
to undertake an almost impossible 
task. [Langland, Richard Redeles 

Hare, To set the tortoise to catch the : to 
undertake a practically impossible 
task. In allusion to ^sop's fable of 
The Hare and the Tortoise. 

Hare without a hound. To seek a wild : 
to undertake an impossible task. 
[Second Maiden's Tragedy, III, i 

Hares afoot. To have : to enter into too 
many undertakings. 

Hare's foot (head) (Hare pie) against the 
goose giblet. To set the : to place one 





thing as a set-off against another. 
[A Match at Midnight, V, i (1633)] 

Hare's foot. To kiss the : to be late, asp. 
for dinner. Possibly to miss the dish 
of hare and have an opportunity of 
seeing only the foot. [Health to 
Servingmen (1598)] 

Hare's foot to Uck, To get the : to obtain 
a small return for one's undertak- 

Hares with foxes, To take : to undertake 
an apparently impossible task. 

Hares, To hunt (run after) two : to 
undertake too many projects. From 
the proverb, ' He who hunts two hares 
leaves one and loses the other.' 
[Plautus, Casta, II, viii, 39-40 ; 
Lyly, Euphues and His England 

Hare-brained : with no more brains or 
intelligence than a hare. [Geo. 
Gascoigne, The Steel Glass (1576)] 

Hari-kari : see Hara-kiri. 

HarleQuin, A : a male character in the 
pantomime ; a buffoon. After the 
name of a Teutonic demon. 

Harley Street : the medical profession. 
In allusion to the thoroughfare in 
London in whose houses many of the 
most distinguished London physicians 

Harm's way, To keep out of : to avoid 
danger or risk. [Smollett, Peregrine 
Pickle, ch. II (1751)] 

Harmless as a dove, As : the dove is an 
emblem of innocence and is quoted as 
such in Matthew, x, 16. 

Harmonia's necklace : an unlucky 
possession. In allusion to the necklace 
that proved fatal to whoever possessed 
it, which was given to Harmonia, the 
daughter of Mars and Venus, by one 
of the Grk. gods on her marriage. 

Harness, To die in : to die while fully 
employed, before retirement from 
work. ' In harness,' in the sense of 
engaged in one's daily work. 

Haro (Harrow), To cry : to denounce 
(anyone). ' Ha- row ' was the Norman 
hue and cry. 

Haroun- (Harun-)al-Raschid : Caliph of 
Baghdad (786-809), around whose 
name innumerable romantic stories 
centre in The Arabian Nights. 

Harp on a . . To : to repeat a remark so 
as to bore ; as playing continuously 
on one string of a harp. [Heywood 
Proverbes (1546)] 
Harpagon, A : a miser. After a 
character in MoUfere, L'Avare. 

Harpoorates, To be a : to be silent. In 
allusion to Harpocrates, the god of 

Harpy, A : a hateful, vulture-like 
woman. In Grk. mythology, half- 
woman, half bird of prey, with the 
attributes of the latter, a minister of 
divine vengeance. 

Harridan, A {Old Fr., haridelle, a 
worn-out horse) : a hateful old woman. 

Harrington, A : a farthing. After the 
Lord Harrington who received from 
James I the patent for making brass 

Harris, B&S. : an imaginary person, fre- 
quently referred to but never seen. 
After a character in Dickens, Martin 
Chuzzlewit (1843). 

Harrow, To cry : see Haro. 

Harrow, Under the : suffering persecu- 
cution or torture, like a toad confined 
by and at the same time threatened 
by a harrow. 

Harry Groat, A : a groat coined in the 
reign of King Henry VIII which bore 
his effigy. 

Harry, Old: (i) the Devil. A corrup- 
tion of Old Hairy. In Leviticus, xvii, 
7, the Hebrew for ' Hairy ones ' is 
translated devils ; (2) Henry VIII of 

Harry with • • To play Old : to harm ; 
torment ; ruin. See Harry, Old. 

Harry Sovereign, A : a sovereign of the 
reign of Henry VII or Henry VIII. 

Harry Twitcher : Henry, Lord Brougham 
(1778-1868), orator, statesman, jurist 
and scientist. In allusion to his habit 
of twitching the face. 

Harry of the West : Henry Clay (1777- 
1852), Amer. statesman and orator. 

Harrys : second-rate playing cards. 

Hartford Convention, The : a secret 
convention held at Hartford, Connecti- 
cut in 1 81 4-1 5 which protested against 
the actions of the Federal Government. 
It was suspected of treason. 

Harvest ears. To hear with one's : not 
to listen or pay attention. [Heywood, 
Proverbes (1546)] 

Harvest Home, The : the end of the 
harvest ; the celebration of the con- 
clusion of the harvest. 
Harvest for a little com. To have a la^e 
(make a long; : to get little return 
for great preparations. [Heywood, 
Proverbes (1546)] 
Harvest moon. The : the moon near the 
full at the time of the harvest in 


Hash of . . To make a : to spoil in the 
course of an unsuccessful attempt to 
deal with . . 

Hash, To settle a person's : to reduce a 
person to silence or powerlessness. 

Hasty pudding, A : a species of pudding 
or porridge, made with little trouble. 
So-called by H. Buttes (1599) 'for . . 
in so great haste I composed it.' 
See however Wm. Haughton, English- 
men for My Money, II, i (1597). 

Hat covers his family. His : he is alone, 

Hat in Friesland, Not to wear a brown : 
to tolerate the prejudices of those in 
whose midst one finds oneself. After 
the story of the insults received by 
the wearer of a brown hat in Friesland 
where such hats are or were unfashion- 

Hat in hand. To go : to be obsequious ; 
begging for a favour. 

Hat, To hang up one's : of a man who 
marries a wife who has already a 
home into which he is admitted. 

Hat on a hen, To put a : see Put. 

Hat money : a payment made to a 
master of a vessel in recognition of 
his care of the freight. 

Hat, To pass (send) round the : to make a 
collection of money, generally for a 
charitable object. [Goldsmith, Life 
of Beau Nash (1762)] 

Hat, To be a (shocking) bad : on one 
occasion at a race at Newmarket a 
little man pushed himself into the 
Duke of York's (Fred. Augustus) 
circle and offered to bet. The Duke 
enquired who the man was and was 
informed, ' Walpole.' His reply, 

referring to the shape of Walpole's hat, 
was, ' Then the little man wears a 
shocking bad hat.' 

Hat, Only fit to wear a steeple-crowned : 
ought to be burnt as a heretic. In 
allusion to the style of hat worn by 

Hat, A white : a radical. In allusion to 
the white hat worn by Henry (Orator) 
Hunt (1773-1835) during the adminis- 
tration of Wellington and Peel. 

Hatch before the door. To have a : to 
remain silent ; to have a means of 
concealing one's actions. [Heywood, 
Proverbes (1546)] 

Hatch, Match and Despatch Column, 
The : the births, marriages and 
deaths advertisements in a newspaper. 

Hatchet, To bury the : to make peace. 
From a practice formerly prevalent 

1 79 [Hay 

among the N. Amer.-Indians of 
burying a tomahawk on the conclusion 
of a peace. 

Hatchet after the helve : see Helve. 

Hatim, As generous as : see Generous. 

Hatted dame, A : a peasant woman. In 
the 17th cent, they were accustomed 
to wear hats. 

Hatter, As mad as a : see Mad. 

Haul over the coals. To : to subject to 
cross-examination and reproof. In 
allusion to the medieval ordeal by 

Haussmannize, To : to rebuild a city on 
improved lines. After Baron George 
Eugene Haussmann (1809-91) who 
rebuilt Paris. 

Haut ton {Fr., high tone) : the fashion- 
able ranks of society. 

Have it out. To : to continue a contest 
or dispute to the finish. Properly, to 
cause to come out to a duel. 

Haves and the Have-nots, The : those 
who have property and those who have 
none. [Cervantes, Don Quixote, II, 

Havoc, To cry : orig. to order an army to 
set about pillaging. 

Haw, Not worth a : of no value at all ; 
a haw being the fruit of the hawthorn. 

Hawk about, To : to offer for disposal in 
the manner of a hawker. 

Hawk and buzzard. Between : (i) 
between two equally dangerous 
enemies ; (2) of doubtful social status, 
not the equal of the members of the 
family and yet above the level of the 

Hawk Eye State, The : Iowa. After an 
Indian chief with whom the early 
colonists had many battles. 

Hawk from a handsaw, To know : to 
distinguish one thing from another. 
Handsaw is a corruption of hemshaw 
or heron. [Shakespeare, Hamlet, II, 
ii (1602)] 

Hawk's meat : one easily tricked by a 
swindler. A play on hawk in the 
sense of a rogue. [Thos. Preston, 
King Cambyses, 11. 1488-90 (1561)] 

Hawker's news : stale news. 

Hawse Hole, To creep through the : to 
rise in the Navy from the lowest rank. 
The hawse hole is the hole through 
which the cable of a vessel runs. 

Hay and grass. Between : (i) too late for 
one purpose and too early for another ; 

(2) between boyhood and manhood ; 

(3) neither one thing nor the other. 

Hay] 1 80 

Hay on the horns, To carry : to be bad- 
tempered and consequently a source of 
danger. In allusion to the practice of 
binding the horns of vicious oxen with 
hay. See Horace, ' Fenum habet in 
cornu.' {Satires, I, iv, 34). 

Hay of • • To make : to throw into 
disorder ; (of arguments) to pull to 

Hay, To look for a needle in a bundle 
(bottle) of : see Look for. 

Hay while the sun shines. To inake : 
to take full advantage of every 
opportunity when engaged in an under- 
taking. [Barclay, Ship of Fools, II, 
45 (1509)] 

Head, Over a person's : (i) superseding 
another one who has a prior claim 
[9th cent.] ; (2) beyond one's under- 
standing. [Bacon, Holy War (1622)] 

Head in the clouds. To have one's : to 
be in a mental state of unreality. 
[Bunyan, Pilgrim's Progress, Pt. II 

Head cook and bottle washer : a person 
in authority, esp. one who makes a 
great show of that authority. Properly 
a general servant. 

Head, To do on : to act rashly. [Cooper, 
Thesaurus (1565)] 

Head and ears. Over : completely ; 
desperately. [Fleming, Panoplie oj 
Epistles (1576)] 

Head off, To eat one's : to be in a con- 
dition of powerless inaction. A meta- 
phor drawn from an animal whose food 
is a source of unrequited expense. 

Head, To fly at the : to attack. [Terence 
in English (1614)] 

Etead to foot, Ftom : completely. [Pliny, 
Natural History, VII, 77 ; Cursor 
Mundi (1300)] 

Head and front of . . The : the principal 
leader ; the chief point. Used by 
Shakespeare in sense of highest point. 

Head high. To carry one's : to be proud ; 
to display a proud mien. [Arbuthnot, 
History of John Bull, ch. 15 (1713)] 

Head, To let him have his : to give a 
person freedom to follow his course, 
just as a horse when his head is freed 
from the reins. 

Head over heels : upside down. More 
properly, Heels over head. [14th 

Head, To keep one's : to retain one's self- 
control despite alarm or difi&culty. 

Head in the lion's mouth. To put one's : 
to enter a situation of great peril. 
[Psalms, xxii, 21 ; II Timothy, iv, 17] 


Head, To lose one's : to lose one's self- 
control. [Chaucer, 2 he Knight's 
Tale (14th cent.)] 

Head against . . To make : to make one's 
way against opposition. [Sir Thos. 
Overbury, The Remedy of Love, Pt. I, 
11. 33-6 (1620)] 

Head, Off one's : out of one's mind. 

Head, To run on : to incite. [Heywood, 
Spider arid Flie (1556)] 

Head against. To run one's : to attempt 
the impossible with hurt to oneself ; 
as if one tried to push a wall down 
with one's head. [The Spectator, No. 
307 (1712)] 

Head on one's shoulders. To have a : to 
be shrewd. 

Head, Swollen : a state of self-conceit. 

Head or tail of. Not to make : to be unable 
to understand. A gambling metaphor. 
[Vanbrugh, Journey to London, IV 

Head, To take one in the : to occur to 
one's mind. 

Head off, To talk a person's : to talk to 
a person until he is so wearied as to 
be unable to reply. 

Head of . . To throw oneself at the : of a 
woman, to show a man unmistakably 
that she is willing to marry him. 

Head of . . To turn the : to make vain 
or unreasonable. [The Spectator, 
No. 201 (1711)] 

Head for washing. To give one's : to 
submit without resistance. [Beau- 
mont and Fletcher, Cupid's Revenge, 

IV, 3 (1615)] 

Head above water. To keep : to retain 
one's solvency, generally by a struggle. 

Heads together. To lay : of persons, to 
confer. [Chaucer, (14th cent.) ; 
Gosson, Schoole of Abuse (1579)] 

Heads I win, tails you lose : whatever 
happens I am bound to gain. Phrase 
d^a^vn from the practice of gambling 
by means of tossing. 

Healing art. The : the practice of 

Heap, To be struck all of a : to be over- 
come and (metaphorically) paralyzed 
by surprise. [Shakespeare, Titus 
Andronicus, II, iii (1594)] 

Hear I Hear ! : an exclamation of 
approval. Orig. ' Hear him ! ' a call 
for silence. The phrase came into use 
about the end of the 17th cent. 

Hear as a hog in harvest. To : to give 
one's hearing but not one's attention. 
Giles Firm in {Real Christian, 1670) 
said, ' If you call hogs out of the 

Heart] i 

harvest stubble, they will just lift up 

their heads to listen and fall to their 

shack again.' 
Heart, The : in medieval philosophy the 

heart was considered to be the seat of 

the affections and feelings. 
Heart, An affair of the : a love affair. 
Heart, With all one's : with all one's 

energies and devotion. [Paston 

Letters, No. 14 (1430)] 
Heart bleed. To make one's : to arouse 

in one a deep feeling of pity. [Chaucer, 

Troylns, IV, Prologue, 12 (14th 

Heart in one's boots (hose). With one's : 

with fear and timidity. In allusion to 

the metaphorical sinking of the heart 

at sorrow or despair. [2 hersites, 

11. 381-3 (1537)] 
Heart, To break a person's : see Break. 
Heart, From the depth (bottom) of one's : 

with all sincerity. [Horace, Satires, 

I, i, 66-7 ; New Custom, III, i (1573)] 
Heart out, To eat one's : to grieve silently. 
Heart of England, The : Warwickshire. 

On account of its central position. 
Heart of flint (stone), A : a person 

devoid of feeling or compassion. 

[TibuUus, Bk. I, i, 63-4 ; A Praise of 

M. M., 11. 25-6 (1557) ; Ezekiel, xi, 19] 
Heart to be full. The : to be deeply 

moved by emotion. [Seliman and 

Perseda (1599)] 
Heart good. To do one's : to gladden and 

strengthen one. [Shakespeare, Mid- 
summer Night's Dream, I, ii, 73 (1590)] 
Heart of grace. To take : see Grace. 
Heart, With half a : half-heartedly ; 

not very willingly. 
Heart to heart talk, A : an intimate 

Heart, To lay to : to remember. 
Heart, To learn by : to commit to 

memory. [Chaucer, Troylus, V, 1494 

(14th cent.)] 
Heart of Midlothian, The : the Tolbooth, 

an Edinburgh prison, demolished in 

Heart in one's mouth. With one's : hlled 

with fear. A suggestion that the 

trembling of the heart with fear brings 

it almost into one's mouth. \J hersites, 

U. 396-7 (1537)] 
Heart of oak : (i) courage ; (2) a stout 

heart ; (3) a man of enduring valour. 

[Munday and Chettle, Death of Robert, 

Earl of Hi'.ntington, IV, iii (1601)] 
Heart, Poor : an expression of pity. 
Heart at rest. To set one's : to render 

one easy in mind. 

I [Heavens 

Heart is in the right place. One's : one 

is well-meaning and has good inten- 
Heart upon . . To set one's : to desire 

most earnestly. [Bacon, Essays : Of 

Empire (1625)] 
Heart upon one's sleeve. To wear one's : 

to advertise one's sentiments and 

emotions to the world. [Shakespeare, 

Othello, I, i, 64 (1604)] 
Heart, Smoker's : an affection of the 

heart caused by excessive smoking. 
Heart and soul. With : thoroughly ; 

devotedly. [Deuteronomy, vi, 5] 
Heart strings. One's : one's deepest 

feelings or emotions. [Spenser, 

Faerie Queen, IV, vi, 29 (1590)] 
Heart, To iake to : to take very seriously ; 

to grieve deeply over . . [Cursor 

Mutidi (1300)] 
Heart, To take : to take courage. 

[Shakespeare, Julius CcBsar, IV, iii 

Heart's content. To one's : as far or as 

much as one desires. [Chapman, 

Blinde Beggar of Alexandria (1598)] 
Heart's ease. To wear : to live a con- 
tented life. [Bunyan, Pilgrim's 

Progress, Pt. II (1684)] 
Hearth money : a tax imposed in 1663 

on fire hearths. 
Heathen Chinee, The : a designation of a 

Chinaman ; invented by Bret Harte 

Heathen, The Great : Johann Wolfgang 

von Goethe (1749-1832), Germ. poet. 

So-called by Heine {Norderney). 
Heather on fire. To set the : to create 

uproar and excitement. [Scott, Rob 

Roy, ch. 35 (1818)] 
Heather, To tsie to the : to flee from 

justice ; to become an outlaw. 
Heaven and earth. To move : to make 

every possible effort. [Scott, Guy 

Mannering, ch. 31 (1815)] 
Heaven on earth, A : a condition of great 

happiness. [Chapman, All Fools, I, i 

Heaven, The nine-fold : the heaven of 

the Muses. [Nich. Grim aid. The 

Muses, 11. 18-9 (1557)] 
Heaven, To be in the seventh : to be 

supremely happy. According to the 

Cabbalists there are seven heavens, 

each more blissful than its immediate 

Heavens, The five : the planetary 

heaven, the heaven of the fixed stars, 

the crystalline heaven, the primum 

mobile and the seat of God and the 

Heavens] 182 

angels, according to the Pl^emaic 

Heavens, The nine : the orbits in which 

nine of the celestial bodies, viz., the 

Moon, Venus, Mercury, the Sun, Mars, 

Jupiter, Saturn, the Firmament and 

the Crystalline, move. 
Heavens, The seven : the number of 

heavens according to the Mahometan 

Heavens, The three : the air, the starry 

firmament, the dwelling-place of God, 

according to the Jewish system. 
Heavenly City, The : see City. 
Heaven-sent Minister, The : William 

Pitt, the younger (1759-1806). 
Heavies, The : the Dragoon Guards or 

Heavy Cavalry. 
Heavy friend, A : an evil friend ; an 

Heavy hand, To have a : of a cook, to 

sprinkle condiments, etc., too freely. 

[Jonathan Swift, Polile Conversation, 

Dial. II (1738)] 
Heavy hand. To rule with a : to oppress. 
Heavy Hill : the road leading to the 

place of execution at Tyburn, conse- 
quently (fig.) the road to the gallows. 
Heavy as a log. As : a dead weight. 

[Lilly, Endimion, III, iii (1591)] 
Heavy man. The : the actor who plays a 

serious or tragic part. 
Heavyweight, A : a boxer of the heaviest 

class, i.e., over 11 stone in weight. 
Hebe, A : a waitress. After the goddess 

of youth. 
Hecate, A : a witch. After the Grk. 

goddess of sorcery. 
Heck and Manger, To live at : to live in 

Hector, A: (i) an heroic leader; (2) 

a swaggerer, a street bully. After 

one of the Trojan heroes in the Trojan 

War. {Lady Alimony in Dodsley's 

Old Plays (1659)] 
Hector, To : to swagger ; to bully. See 

previous entry. 
Hector, The British : Nennius (fi. 796). 
Hector of Germany, The : Joachim II 

of Brandenburg (1505-71). 
Hector, To play the : to bully and boast. 

See Hector. 
Hector's cloak, To wear : to be punished 

in the manner of one's own oflence. 

From the betrayal of Thomas Percy, 

Earl of Northumberland in 1569 by 

Hector Armstrong, in whose house 

he took refuge. From that time 

Armstrong's fortunes began to 



Hecuba, On to : to the main point of 
the story. The story of Hecuba was 
the centre of many of the Grk. 

Hedge alehouse, A : an inn of a poor 

Hedge priest, A : an itinerant Irish 
priest attached to no parish and 
probably devoid of educational qualifi- 
cation for his office. 

Hedge school, A : an open-air school in 
Ireland in a poor district. 

Hedge schoolmaster, A : see Hedge school. 

Hedge, To be on the right (wrong) side 
of the : to be in a right (wrong) 

Hedge, To sit on the : to sit on the fence 


Hedgehog, To play the : to go through 
the world careless of other people's 
feelings. In allusion to the fable of 
the hedgehog which, being received 
into the den, drove out his host. [Sir 
Philip Sidney, Defence of Poesie, Pt. I, 

§ I (1595)] 
Heel, Down (Out) at : giving evidence of 

poverty or carelessness in personal 

appearance. [Shakespeare, King 

Lear, II, ii (1605-6)] 
Heel of Italy, The : the south-eastern 

extremity of Italy, which in form 

resembles a heel. 
Heel tap : the dregs. 
Heels, To bless the world with one's : 

to be hanged. [Painter, Palace of 

Pleasure (1566)] 
Heels, To cool the : to await another's 

pleasure. [The Merry Devil of 

Edmonton, 11. 151-3 (1608)] 
Heels, To gather up one's : to run away. 

[Bunyan, The Holy War (1682)] 
Heels of . . To have (get) the : to surpass 

in running. 
Heels over head : see Head over heels. 
Heels, To kick one's : to spend time 

waiting another's pleasure. [Ben 

Jonson, Bartholomew Fair (1614)] 
Heels, To kick up one's : to die. [Dekker 

and Webster, Westward Ho, II, ii 

Heels, To lay (set) (clap) by the : to 

arrest ; imprison ; render powerless. 

Properly, to imprison in the stocks. 

[Hickscorner, 1. 481 (1520J] 
Heeb in one's neck. To cast : to leap 

forward heedlessly. [Nashe, Lenten 

Stuff (1599)] 
Heels of. To see the : to see for the last 

time. [Interlude of Youth, l. 191 



Heels, To show a light (dean) (fair) pair 

of : to run away swiftly. [Heywood, 

Proverbes (1546)] 
Heels, To take to one's : to run away. 

[Thos. Preston, King Cambyses, 11. 

395-6 (1561)] 
Heels of . . To tread upon the : to 

follow closely upon . . 
Heeler, A : a political follower of low 

character ; one who follows at the 

heels of his leader. 
Heep, A Uriah : an ostentatiously 

humble hypocrite. After a character 

in Dickens, David Copperfield (1849). 
Heir of the Republic, The : Napoleon I, 

who became Emperor after having 

been First Consul of the Republic. 
Helen, A : a very beautiful woman. 

After the wife of Menelaos, King of 

Helen of one's Troy, The : the acme of 

one's ambition. After Helen who 

was the cause of the Trojan War. 

[Lord Brooke (155 4-1 628), Treatise of 

Humane Learning'] 
Helicon : the inspiration of poets ; the 

home of poetry. After the mountain 

of that name in Boeotia which was 

sacred to the poets. 
Heliconian Sisters, The Nine : the Muses 

{q.v.), who dwelt on Mount Helicon 

in Bceotia. 
Heliogabalus, A : a monster of folly and 

debauchery. After the Roman 

Emperor (c. 205-222). 
Hell on earth, A : a place of mental 

torture. [Rich. Breton, Characters: 

War (1615.)] 
Hell, To move : to make every possible 

effort. [Thos. Campion, When Thou 

Must Home (1601)] 
Hell of a time. To have a : to have a very 

lively time. 
Hell and Tommy, To play : to ruin 

utterly. [Haliburton, The Clock- 
maker (1837)] 
Hellebore, As sad as : very sad. In 

allusion to a character in Samuel 

Foote, The Devil upon Two Sticks 

Helm, To be at the : to direct ; control. 

[Wm. Penn, Some Fruits of Solitude, 

Pt. n, § 17 (1693)] 
Helping hand. To hold out a : to offer 

assistance. [Marcus Seneca, Contro- 

versiae, I, i, 14 ; Gosson, Speculum 

Humanum, 11. 20-2 (1576)] 
Helve, To send axe after : see Axe. 
Helve after the hatchet. To throw the : 

to be reckless, esp. after heavy losses. 

183 [Hercules 

In allusion to the legend of the wood- 
cutter who threw the handle of his axe 
into the water in which the head had 

Hemp in one's pocket, To have : to have 
luck on one's side. In allusion to the 
superstition that hemp brings good 

Hempen caudle, A : a hangman's rope. 
[Shakespeare, 2 Henry VI, IV, vii 


Hempen collar (cravat) (tie^. The : the 
hangman's rope. 

Hempen fever : death by hanging. 

Hempen widow, A : the widow of one 
who has been hanged. 

Hen to chuck. To teach a : see Teach. 

Hen, To put a hat on a : see Put. 

Henpeck, To : of a wife, to nag and rule 
her husband. In allusion to a hen 
that pecks feathers out of a cock. 
[Early 17th cent.] 

Henry Dubb, A : the ideal workingman, 
in the opinion of the U.S. capitalist. 

Hep, hep ! the cry by which an attack 
on the Jews used to be announced in 
Germany. Contraction for Hieros- 
olyma est perdita (Jerusalem is 
destroyed), the inscription on the 
recruiting banners of the Crusaders. 

Hepplewhite : a kind of domestic 
furniture. After Geo. Hepplewhite, 
Eng. cabinetmaker (d. 1786). 

Heptarchy, The : the period of English 
history prior to the consolidation of 
the kingdom by Edward the Elder 
in 924. Previously the country was 
divided into several kingdoms. 

Herb of grace. The : rue. In allusion 
to its use in the R.C. Church. 

Herclem, Ex pede : see Ex pede. 

Herculean : extremely difficult or 
dangerous ; very powerful ; gigantic. 
After Hercules, Grk. mythical hero, 
celebrated for his strength. 

Hercules, A : a man of exceptional 
physical strength. After the mythical 
hero and god of that name. 

Hercules' knot, A : a knot, extremely 
difficult to unravel. The invention of 
it was attributed to Hercules. 

Hercules' labour, A : a very great task. 
In allusion to the twelve stupendous 
labours imposed on the god, Hercules. 
See Labours of Hercules. 

Hercules of Music, The : Christopher 
Gliick (1714-87). 

Hercules, The Pillars of : Gilbraltar and 
Ceuta, on either side of the Straits of 
Gibraltar. According to the ancient 


myth they were set up by Hercules as 
the Western boundary of the world. 
Hence any impassable limit. 
Hercules Secundus : Commodus, Rom. 
Emperor (161-192). So-called by 
Hercules, To snatch a club from : to 
attempt an impossible or very difficult 
task. [Macrobius, Satires, Bk. V, iii 
§ 16] 
Herefordshire kindness, A : a good 
service rendered in return for another. 
Hermaphrodite, A : an animal that com- 
bines in its own person both of the 
sexes. After Hermaphrodytus (Grk. 
myth.) who became combined with 
the nymph of the fountain, Salmacis. 
Hermeneutic : relating to interpretation. 

After Hermes, the god of skill. 
Hermes, A : a messenger. After the 
messenger of the gods in Grk. myth- 
Hermetic : (i) relating to chemistry ; 
(2) completely sealed or closed. After 
the Egyptian Hermes Trismegistus, 
the fabled inventor of alchemy. 
Hermetic art, The : chemistry. 
Hermit Nation (Kingdom), The : Corea. 
In allusion to the seclusion from the 
outer world practised by its govern- 
ments until its virtual annexation by 
H6ro de la Fable, L' : Duke of Guise 

H6ro de I'Histoire, L' : le grand Cond6, 

Due d'Enghien (1621-87). 
Hero of a Hundred Fights, The : the 
first Duke of Wellington (i 769-1 852). 
So-called in Tennyson, Ode on the 
Death of the Duke of Wellington (1852). 
Hero of the Nile, The : Viscount Nelson 
( 1 758-1 805), who won the Battle of 
the Nile. 
Herod, To out-Herod : to exceed even 
Herod in cruelty, ferocity or violence. 
In the old morality and mystery 
plays King Herod was always depicted 
as of most ferocious temper and 
language. [Shakespeare, Hamlet, III, ii 
Herodotus of Old London, The : John 
Stow (1525-1605), author of the Survey 
of London. After Herodotus, famous 
Grk. historian, who lived from 484 
to 425 B.C. 
Heroic Age, The : the mythical age 
when the heroes are supposed to have 
Heroic medicine : medicine which either 
kills or cures. 



Heroic poetry : epic poetry ; poetry 

celebrating the life of a hero. 
Heroic remedies : violent remedies. 
Heroic size. Of : in sculpture, greater 

than life-size. 
Heroic verse : the verse in which heroic 

or epic poetry is written. 
Herring-pond, The : the sea ; in 
particular the Atlantic Ocean. 
[England's Path to Wealth (1722)] 
Herrings in a barrel. Like : very closely 
packed together. [Cervantes, Don 
Quixote, II, 43, 52] 
Hesperia : the Western Land. Accord- 
ing to the Greeks, Italy ; according to 
the Italians, Spain. See Hesperian 
and Hesperides. 
Hesperian : western. After Hesperus, 

the evening star. 
Hesperides : (i) the nymphs, daughters 
of Hesperus, who, with the aid of a 
dragon, guarded the garden of the 
golden apples in the extreme west of 
the world ; (2) the Fortunate Isles or 
Isles of the Blest in the far west 
beyond the Pillars of Hercules in which 
the golden apples grew ; (3) the 
Islands of Cape Verde or the Canary 
Islands. Grk., western ; daughters 
of the west. 
Hesperus : the evening star. 
Hessian, A : a mercenary soldier or 
politician in the U.S. In allusion to 
the Hessian soldiers who fought in the 
pay of England in the American 
Hessians : high boots. After the 
Hessian mercenary soldiers who intro- 
duced them into England. 
Hew blocks with a razor. To : to employ 
fine powers or tools for an unworthy 
object. ' To endeavour to work upon 
the vulgar with fine sense.' [Pope, 
Thoughts on Various Authors (1741)] 
Hewers of wood and drawers of water : 
slaves ; labourers of the lowest class. 
In allusion to the Gibeonites who 
were enslaved by the Israelites. 
[Joshua, ix, 21] 
Hibemia : the Roman name for Ireland. 
Hie jacet, A : an epitaph. After the 
two first words of Lat. epitaphs, 
' Hear lies.' [Shakespeare, All's 
Well that Ends Well, III, vi (1601-2)] 
Hiccius Doctius ; Hixius Doxius (Imita- 
tion Lat.) : a pretentious humbug. 
[Thos. Shadwell, The Virutoso (1676)] 
Hickory, Old : Andrew Jackson (1767- 
1845), Amer. general and President of 
the U.S. In allusion to the strength 




and toughness of his character, like 
hickory wood. 
Hickory, Yoang : Martin van Buren 
( 1 782-1862), President of the U.S., on 
whose shoulders the political mantle of 
Old Hickory (Pres. Jackson) (q.v.) 
was said to have fallen. 
Hickscomer, A : a scoffer. After the 
name of a character in an interlude of 
that name printed by Wynkyn de 
Worde (d. 1534). 
Hide of land, A : an early Eng. measure 
of land sufficient to be tilled by 
means of one plough in the course of 
a year. 
Hide-bound : narrow-minded ; obstin- 
ate. In allusion to the condition of 
ill-fed cattle whose skin clings tightly 
to the body. [Return from Parnassus, 
II, iv (1606)] 

Hieroclean legacy, The : the legacy of 
jokes. After Hierocles (5th cent.), 
who was the original compiler of an 
anthology of jokes. 

High brow, A : a person aggressively 
intellectual or supposedly so. 

High Church : the party in the Church 
of England which attributes great 
importance to the Episcopate and to 
those doctrines and opinions generally 
which distinguish the Church from the 
Nonconformist bodies. Orig. (17th 
cent.) applied as a nickname to the 
Tory party in the Church. 

High day, A : a solemn festival. 

High and dry : left aside from the 
current of events. Metaphor drawn 
from the sea, as of a ship stranded 
high on the beach. 

High falutin : bombastic pretence. 
Either corruption of high flighting, or 
from (Dutch) verlooten, stilted. 

High game, To fly at : to have great 

High hand. With a : autocratically. 

High horse. To ride the : to be arrogant. 
[Addison, Freeholder (171 6)] 

High in the instep : haughty. [Hey- 
wood, Proverbes {1546)] 

High jinks : a noisy frolic ; properly, a 
game of forfeits. 

High life : life in the upper ranks of 

High and mighty : arrogant. Orig. an 
epithet of dignity. 

High places : altars erected to heathen 
gods. From their elevated situation. 

High ropes. On the : arrogant and dis- 
dainful. [Goldsmith, She Stoops to 
Conquer, II, i (1773)] 

High Seas, The : the great oceaui outside 
of territorial waters. 

High spirits, In : jovial ; in good spirits. 

High tea, A : a meat tea. 

High words : angry words. [Sheridan, 
School for Scandal, V, ii (1777)] 

Higher Criticism, The : a series of 
questions affecting the composition, 
the editing and the collection of the 
books of the Bible. The phrase was 
first used by Eichhom in Einleitung 
in das Alte Testament, Bd. II, § 424, 
295 (1787)- 

Higher Orders, The : the upper classes. 

Highflier, A : (i) a High Churchman ; 

(2) in Scotland, an Evangelical ; 

(3) one whose ambitions are great ; 

(4) a pretentious beggar. 
Highland bail : pugilistics. 
EUghlanders : playing cards of low 

quality. In allusion to the device 
on the wrappers of packs of such 

HUdebrand, A : an overbearing, power- 
ful, strongminded pope ; of the 
character of Gregory VII (Hildebrand) 

Hill, To go down : to be on the decline. 

Hinc illae lacrymae {Lat., Hence these 
tears) : the cause of the trouble. 
[Terence, Andria, I, i ; Whitgift, 
Works, I (1572)] 

Hindustan Regiment, The : the second 
Battalion of the West Riding Regt., 
fonnerly the 76th. In allusion to the 
distinction gained in Hindustsm. 

Hip, On the : at a definite advantage. 
A metaphor drawn either from hunting 
or wrestling. [Heywood, Proverbes 

Hip and thigh. To smite : to attack 
without quarter. [Judges, xv, 8] 

Hipped, To be : to be low-spirited ; 
from hypochondria. 

Hippocras : a medicinal wine. After 
Hippocrates (4th cent. B.C.), the 
Father of Medicine, from whose 
prescription it is said to be made up. 

Hippocratic face, A : the appearance of 
a face betokening death. After Hip- 
pocrates (4th cent. B.C.), by whom it 
was described. 

EQppocrene : poetic or literary 
inspiration. After a fountain on 
Mount Helicon, sacred to the Muses. 

Hippodrome, A : (i) a circus ; (2) a 
music hall ; (3) in America a fraudu- 
lent horserace. After the ancient 
Grk. course for horse and chariot 


Hit the ball's eye. To : to have a neat 
and perfect success. A shooting 

Hit, A great : a considerable success. 
From the game of hit and miss. 

Hit, To make a : to make a success. 

Hit a man when dovm. To : to take 
advantage of a man when he is at 
one's mercy. 

Hizius Dozius : see Hiccius Doctius. 

Hobbema, The English : John Crome, 
the elder (i 769-1 821). After Meindert 
Hobbema (c. 1638-1709), a famous 
Dutch landscape painter. 

Hobbema, The Scotch : Peter Nasmyth 

Hobbes' voyage : a leap in the dark. In 
allusion to the last saying of Thomas 
Hobbes (1588-1679), the philosopher, 
' Now I am about to take my last 
voyage, a leap in the dark.' 

Hobbling Giles : see Hopping Giles. 

Hobby, A : a favourite pursuit. From 
' hobby-horse,' orig. a pleasure-horse, 
afterwards a child's toy. 

Hob's pound. To be in : to be in diffi- 
culties. Hob represents a rustic fool 
and the phrase therefore means to 
be in difficulties in consequence of 
one's own folly. 

Hobson Jobson : a noisy festivity. 

Hobson's Choice : no choice. Generally 
supposed to be in allusion to Thomas 
or "Tobias Hobson, livery stable keeper 
of Cambridge (c. 1 544-1 630), who 
allowed his customers no choice. 
They had to take whichever horse was 
next due to go out. The phrase in the 
form of ' Hudson's Choice ' was, how- 
ever, current as early as 161 4 and was 
probably adapted to apply to Hobson 
of Cambridge. 

Hoc genus omne {Lat, All this sort of 
people) : [Horace, Satires, I, ii] 

Hock Day : Tuesday, see Hock Tide. 

Hock Monday : see Hock Tide. 

Hock Tide : a popular festival celebrated 
on the second Monday and Tuesday 
after Easter in commemoration of the 
expulsion of the Danes in 1074. 

Hockey cake : see Hoky. 

Hocus-pocus : charlatanism ; a con- 
juror's trick ; conjurer's gibberish. 
Said to be from Ochus Bochus, a 
celebrated It. wizard of the 17th cent., 
or from ' Hoc est Corpus ' of the Mass. 
' Hokos-Pokos ' is the name of the 
juggler in Ben Jonson, Magnetic Lady 
(1632). See also Ben Jonson, The 
Staple of News (1625). 

186 [Holbom 

Hod, A : a bricklayer's labourer. From 
the implement used in his employment. 

Hodge : a countryman. From ' hedger.' 
[Chaucer, Coke's Prologue, I. 12 (1386)] 

Hodge-Podge : a mixture. Corruption 
of Hotch-potch (q.v.). 

Hodge-wife, As firm as : very firm and 
secure. Hodge's wife is said to have 
been confirmed by a bishop several 

Hodman, A : one who performs the 
drudgery in literature for the assist- 
ance of a writer of repute. Properly, 
a bricklayer's labourer. 

Hog in armour, A : a clumsy person ; 
one obviously uncomfortable in his 
attire. [Howell, English Proverbs 

Hog and hominy : ordinary food. Pork 
and maize are among the cheapest of 
foods in the United States. 

Hog, To go the whole : (i) to perform a 
business completely ; (2) to support 
one's party in everything without 
question. [Cowper, Love of the World 

Hogs to a fine market. To bring one's : 
to get one's affair into a bad state of 
mismanagement. 'iLook About You, 
I, xiii (1600)] 

Hog's Norton, To be brought up at : to 
be badly behaved. Hook Norton, 
formerly Hoch Norton, in Oxford- 
shire, was proverbial for the clownish- 
ness of its inhabitants. {Interlude of 
Youth, 1. 498-9 (1554)] 

Hogan Mogan : see Hogen Mogen. 

Hogarth of Novelists, The : Henry 
Fielding (1707-54). The original 
Hogarth (1695-1764) was called ' The 
Juvenal of Painters.' 

Hogarth, The Scottish : David Allan 

Hogen Mogen : (i) Holland ; (2) the 
Dutch ; (3) people of high rank. From 
the Dutch title of the States General, 
Hoogmogendheiden, High Mightinesses. 

Hogsdon cask. Over a : in a very hurried 
and unceremonious manner. \The 
Wizard (1640)] 

Hoi PoUoi : see Oi PoUoi. 

Hoigh, On the : excitedly. [Terence in 
English (161 4)] 

Hoist with one's own petard : caught in 
his own trap. [Shakespeare, Hamlet, 
III. 4 (1602-3)] 

Hoky ; Hockey cake : the seed cake 
distributed at a Harvest Home {q.v.). 

Holbom Hill, To ride backwards up : to 
go to be hanged. The road to the 


gallows at Tyburn passed along 

Holbom Hill and criminals in former 

times used to be taken to execution 

with their backs to the horse. 
Hold forth. To : to harangue. First 

used by the Nonconformists (c. 1642) 

in this sense. 
Hold the candle to, Not to be worthy to : 

In allusion to the link boys who used 

to light their masters. 
Hold one's hand. To : to forbear. 

[Towneley My steries, IV, 260 {c. 1350)] 
Hold one's head high, To : to be proud 

and arrogant. 
Hold a looking-glass to a mole. To : to 

act foolishly and to no purpose. From 

an ancient Grk. proverb. 
Hold one's own. To : to maintain oneself 

in a contest. [R. Brunne, Chronicle 

Hold the serpent by the tail. To : to act 

foolishly. From an ancient Grk. 

Hold one's tongue. To : to keep silent. 

[Scott, Legend of Montrose, ch. 4 

Hold water. To : to come successfully 

through a test ; to bear inspection. 

[Mabbe, Transl. of Aleman, Guzman 

d'Alfarache, II, 79 (1622)] 
Hole and corner : secret ; underhand. 

Lit., done in a hole and corner, i.e., 

in a secret place. [Ascham, 

Toxophilus, Bk. I (1545)] 
Hole in . . To pick a : to find fault with . . 

In allusion to the Rom. practice of 

dressing criminals in rags. [Chapman, 

All Fools, IV. i (1608)] 
Hole in the water. To make a : to be 

drowned. From an It. proverb. 
Holiday liking, A : a mere temporary, 

superficial friendship, intended perhaps 

merely for the period of a holiday. 

[Mrs. Cath. Crowe, Light and Darkness : 

The Money Seekers, ch. 6 (1850)] 
Holiday speeches (words) (terms) : choice 

language. [Shakespeare, i Henry IV, 

I, iii (1596-7)] 
Holland House Circle, The : the political 

and social circle that gathered round 

the 3rd Lord Holland (1773-1840) at 

Holland House, Kensington, London. 
Hollantide : contraction of AU-HoUan- 

tide, All Hallows, November ist. 
Hollow, To beat : to beat wholly, of 

which the phrase is a corruption. 

[Jas. Townley, High Life Below 

Stairs, I, ii (1759)] 
Holy Alliance, The : the alliance between 

Russia, Austria and Prussia (1816-30) 

187 [Holy 

and subsequently joined by the other 
powers except Britain and Rome, for 
the preservation of the dynastic 
status quo or to regulate the affairs of 
Europe ' by the principles of Christian 

Holy Boys, The : the 9th Regt. of Foot. 
In allusion to their practice, during the 
Peninsular War, of sacking monas- 
teries and selling the bibles. 

Holy City, The : of the Western Arabs, 
Fez ; of the Christians, Jerusalem ; 
of the Hindoos, Benares ; of the Incas, 
Cuzco ; of the Jews, Jerusalem ; of 
the Mahometans, Mecca, Medina ; 
of the Indian Mahometans, Allahabad ; 
of the Russians, Kief, Moscow. 

Holy fire : erysipelas ; St. Anthony's 

Holy Grail, The : see Grail. 

Holy of Holies, The : (i) the sanctuary of 
a church ; (2) anywhere especially 
sacred. Orig. the innermost sanctuary 
of the Temple at Jerusalem. 

Holy Isle, The : (i) Lindisfame, off the 
coast of Northumberland, on account 
of its monastery ; (2) Ireland, on 
account of its numerous saints. 

Holy Land, The : among the Christians 
and Jews, Palestine, or more properly 
Judaea, the scene of the biblical 
narrative ; among the Mahometans, 
Mecca, the birthplace of the Prophet ; 
among the Chinese Buddhists, India, 
the native-land of the Buddha ; 
among the Greeks, Elis, the site of the 
Temple of Zeus. 

Holy land of mountain adventure. The : 
the Alps. 

Holy League, The : (i) the League 
between the Pope, Ferdinand of 
Aragon, Venice, and Switzerland in 
151 1, and later Henry VIII of England 
and the Emp. Maximilian directed 
against Louis XII of France ; (2) the 
league between the Pope, Venice and 
Spain against the Turks in 1571 ; (3) 
the association formed in France by 
the Due de Guise in 1576 with the 
assistance of the King of Spain and 
the support of the Pope ' for the 
defence of the Holy Catholic Church 
against the encroachments of the 
Reformers,' but in reality to secure the 
succession to the throne of the Due de 
Guise instead of Henry of Navarre, 
afterwards Henry IV ; (4) the league 
formed in 1684 by the Pope between 
the Emperor, Poland, Venice and 
Muscovy against the Turks. 

Holy] i88 

Holy Mother of the Rassias, The : the 

City of Moscow. 

Holy oak, A : an oak that marked a 
parish boundary at which the Gospel 
was read at the beating of the bounds 
during the Rogation Days ; also 
known as Gospel Oak. 

Holy Office, The : the Inquisition {q.v.). 

Holy Orthodox Church, The : the Greek 

Holy Roman Empire, The : the successor 
to the (Western) Roman Empire, 
founded by Charlemagne in 800 and 
destroyed by Napoleon in 1806. It 
was succeeded by the Austrian Empire, 
which was dissolved in 19 18. 

Holy Saturday : the day before Easter 

Holy Thursday : Ascension Day. 

Holy Wars, The : the Crusades, the 
Thirty Years War, and other wars of 

Holy Water, As the Devil loves : see 

Holy Week : Passion Week ; the week 
immediately preceding Easter. 

Holy Writ : the Bible ; formerly all 
writings on sacred subjects. 

Home to . . To bring a thing : (i) to 
convict a person of . . ; (2) to say 
something that kindles the attention 
of .. 

Home Counties, The : Middlesex, Surrey, 
Kent, Essex and Hertford, and some- 
times Sussex, the counties bordering 
on London. 

Home, To go : to die. [First quarter of 
the 1 6th cent.] 

Home, To go to one's long : see Home, 
To go. 

Home of Lost Causes, The : Oxford 
University, noted for its extreme 
conservatism. [Matthew Arnold, 
Essays in Criticism (1865)] 

Home, Man's long : the grave. 

Home Office, The : the Ministry of the 
Interior in the United Kingdom ; the 
department of state concerned with 
home as distinct from foreign affairs. 

Home, To pay : to press hard in combat. 

Home, To press a thing : to pursue a 
course until it is completed to the full. 
[Dryden, Annus Mirabilis, St. 127 
Home Rule : self-government. The 
phrase was apparently invented by 
George Brodrick in The Times on the 
9th of February, 1871. 
Home Rulers : a British political party 
which advocates autonomy for Ireland. 


Home Secretary, The : the Minister of 
the Interior in the United Kingdom. 

Home to . . To speak : to tell plain 
truths to . , [Foote, The Author, II, i 

Home, To strike (hit) : to touch a person 

where he is most vulnerable. 
Home, To touch : to give a mortal 

wound to. 
Homer, The British : (i) Geoffrey 

Chaucer (1340-1400), so-called by 

Ascham ; (2) John Milton (1608-74), 

so-described on Gray's monument in 

Westminster Abbey. 
Homer, The Celtic : Ossian (fl. 300). 
Homer of Dramatic Poets, The : Shakes- 
peare. So-called by Dryden. 
Homer of Ferrara, The : Ariosto (1474- 

1533)- So-calleid by Tasso. 
Homer of the Franks, The : Angilbert 

(fl. 814). So-called by Charlemagne. 
Homer of the French Drama, The : Peter 

Corneille (1606-84). So-called by Sir 

Walter Scott. 
Homer of History, The : Herodotus 

(c. 484-425 B.C.), Grk. historian. 
Homer of Human Nature, The Prose : 

Henry Fielding (1707-64). So-called 

by Byron. 
Homer sometimes nods : even the most 

trustworthy sometimes fails. [Horace, 

Ars Poeiica, 359] 
Homer, The Oriental : Firdusi (904- 

1020), the Persian poet. 
Homer of Philosophers, The : Plato 

(429-347 B.C.). 
Homer, The Prose : Henry Fielding 

(1707-64). So-called by Byron. 
Homer, The Scottish : William Wilkie 

(1721-72), author of Epigoniad, ' the 

Scottish Iliad,' which is written in 

heroic couplets based on the 4th book 

of the Iliad. 
Homeric laughter : unquenchable, long 

drawn out laughter. In allusion to 

the laughter of the gods in the 

Odyssey, VHI, 326. 
Homeric question. The : the question of 

the authorship, etc., of the poems of 

Homeric verse : hexameters. In allu- 
sion to the metre in which Homer 

Homespun lass, A : a country girl ; one 

whose clothing material is spun at 

home. [Grim, the Colier of Croydon, 

IV, i (1662)] 
Honest Abe : Abraham Lincoln 

(1809-65), President of the United 





Honest Broker, The : Prince Otto von 
Bismarck (1815-98), in view of his 
chairmanship of the Berlin Congress of 
1878, where he endeavoured to bring 
Austria and Russia to an agreement. 
See his speech in the Reichstag of 
Feb. 19. 1878. 

Honest George : George Monk, Duke of 
Albemarle (1608-70). 

Honest-man, King : Victor Emanuel II 
of Italy (1820-78), who fulfilled in 
times of prosperity the promises of 
constitutional reform made by his 
father and himself in a period of 

Honest penny, To earn an : to earn one's 
money by honest work. 

Honest penny. To tnm an : to earn 
money legitimately. [Wycherley, 
Plain Dealer, III (1676)] 

Honey to the beehives. To send : to 
perform a labour of supererogation. 
Of Spanish origin. 

Honey for a halfpenny, To sell : to 
estimate at a low price. [Naish, Pierce 
Penilesse (1592)] 

Honey Island : an ancient name for 

Honeyed speech (words) : flattery. 
[Homer, Iliad, vi, 212-4 > Ausonius, 
Epistulas, ii ; Heywood, Proverbes 

Honeyed tongue, A : a flatterer. [Homer, 
Iliad, Bk. I, 247-9 ; Thos. Lodge, 
Wounds of Civil War, I, 283-5 

Honeymoon, A : the first month after 

marriage. From the Scand. practice 

of drinking diluted honey during it. 

Moon = month. 
Hong merchant, A : a Chinese merchant 

(native or foreign). Hong, a foreign 

warehouse or factory at Canton. 
HonorificabiUtudinitatibus : honourable- 

ness. The longest word in the Eng. 

language. [Nashe, Lenten Stuffe 

Honoris causa {Lat., For the sake of 

honour) : honorary (esp. of a Univ. 

degree) . 
Honour, An affair of : a duel or a dispute 

leading up to one. Duels were 

governed and prescribed by the Laws 

of Honour. 
Honour bright ! : an asseveration of 

Honour, A court of : a tribunal for the 

decision of matters of honour; a 

successor to the medieval court of 


Honour, A debt of : a gambling or other 
debt that cannot be enforced by law, 
but is dependent on one's sense of 

Honour, The Fountain of : the King of 
England, with whom titular honours 

Honour, Laws of: laws of etiquette, 
which govern polite society. 

Honour, A point of : an obligation, 
binding not on account of law but out 
of self-respect or on account of 

Honour, One's word of : a statement or 
promise made on one's honour. 

Honours, To do the : to preside at a 
social function. 

Honours are easy : both sides have equal 
advantages. A cardplaying metaphor. 

Honours of war. The : the right to retain 
arms and colours, granted to a defeated 
army by the victor. 

Honoured in the breach than in the 
observance. More : of a custom or 
example that should not be followed. 
[Shakespeare, Hamlet, IV, iv (1602-3). 

Hoodlum : an Amer. term for a street 
ruffian. Said to have been a corrup- 
tion of Muldoon, a hooligan leader in 
San Francisco about 1868. Muldoon 
was re-arranged as Noodlum, which 
was misread as Hoodlum. 

Hoodwink, To : to deceive. From the 
game of hoodman-blind or blind 
man's buff. [Thos. May, The Heir, 
IV. i (1633)] 

Hook, Above one's : beyond one's 

Hook or by crook. By : by one means or 
another. By the ancient Law of 
the New Forest, every Forester- 
bom has the right to remove 
fallen branches, etc., ' with hook 
and crook.' A popular but baseless 
derivation is from Hook and Croke, 
two successful advocates, one or other 
of whom was generally retained by 
litigants in the early 17th cent. Yet 
another derivation is from Hook and 
Crook, two places in the port of 
Waterford, by one or the other of 
which, Strongbow, when he invaded 
Ireland in 11 72, is said to have sworn 
that he would capture the city. 
[Colin Clout (1240) ; Wycliflfe, Contro- 
versial Tracts (1370)] 
Hook, To fish with a golden : to bribe. 
Hook, On one's own : self-dependent. 
Hooligan, A : a street ruffian. Either a 
perversion of hoodlum {q.v.), or from 


the name of a prominent street ruffian 

in South London about the year 1898. 

[Daily Mail, Jan. 9, 1899)] 
Hoosier, A : a native of the state of 

Indiana. See Hoosier State. 
Hoosier State, The : Indiana. After 

Husher, a bully (Amer. colloq.), one 

who hushes his opponents. 
Hop 0' my Thumb, A : (i) a dwarf ; 

(2) a term of contempt used figuratively 

for one small enough to hop over a 

thumb. Introduced in the i6th cent. 
Hop the twig. To : to run away from 

one's creditors as a bird escapes from 

the fowler. 
Hope against hope. To : not to lose hope 

despite overwhelming disappointments. 
Hopeful, A young : a male child. 
Hopping Giles, A : a lame man. After 

St. Giles, the patron saint of cripples. 
Horace of England, The : (i) Ben Jonson 

{1573-1637), so-called by Dekker ; 

(2) Abraham Cowley (1618-67), so- 
called by the Duke of Buckingham. 

Horace, famous Rom. poet, lived 

from 65 to 8 B.C. 
Horace of France, The : (i) Jean 

Macrinus (1490-1557) ; {2) Pierre Jean 

de Beranger (1780-1857). 
Horace of Portugal, The : Antonio 

Ferreira (1528-69). 
Horace of Spain, The : (i) Lupercio 

Argensola (1559-1613) ; (2) Bartol'me 

Argensola (1562-1631). 
Horn in the bog. To stidc one's : to get 

into a difficult position. [Scott, Rob 

Roy, ch. 18 (1818)] 
Horn Book, A : an elementary treatise ; 

a school book. Orig. in the i6th cent. 

a child's book protected by a covering 

of horn. 
Horn and com : cattle and provisions. 
Horn, To exalt (lift up) one's : see Exalt. 
Horn Gate, The : in Grk. legend, one of 

the two gates of dreams, though which 

those which are to be fulfilled pass. 

After a pun between the Grk. words 

keras, horn, and krano, to bring to an 

Horn nor hoof. Neither : without trace. 
Horn, To come out at the little end of 

the : to get the worst in a contest or 

dispute ; to be swindled. [Ben 

Jonson, Eastward Ho (1605)] 
Horn mad : raving mad ; so mad or 

angry as to toss as with the horns of an 

ox. [Burton, Anatomy of Melancholy : 

To the Reader (1621)] 
Horn, To put to the : to denounce as a 

rebel ; to outlaw. In allusion to the 

190 [Horse 

former practice in Scotland of blowing 
a horn three times before announcing 
a sentence of outlawry. 

Horn of Salvation, The : God. 
[II Samuel, xxii, 3] 

Horn, To be squeezed through a : to get 
the worst of a contest or dispute. 
[Fletcher, A Wife for a Month (1624)] 

Horn Thumb, A : a pickpocket. In 
allusion to the practice, when bags 
were worn as purses, of wearing horn 
thimbles so as to protect the thumb 
from the knife used to cut away 

Horns of the Altar, To the : to the utter- 
most. In allusion to the Roman 
custom of holding the horns of the 
altar when swearing. 

Horns, To take the bull by the : see Take. 

Horns of a dilemma, On the : between 
two alternative difficulties. 

Horns, To draw in one's : to modify one's 
demands or expectations. In allusion 
to the snail which draws in its 
horns when disturbed. 

Hornet's nest about one's ears. To bring 
a : to bring much petty annoyance, 
esp. the remonstrances of individuals, 
upon oneself. [Peter Pindar, Odes of 
Condolence : The Churchwarden (1792)] 

Hornets' nest. To stir up a : to cause 
oneself trouble and petty annoyance. 
The bear, which is very fond of honey, 
occasionally inserts his snout in a 
hornet's nest instead of one of bees. 

Hornie, Auld : In Scotland, the Devil. 
In allusion to his supposed horns. 

Horrors, The : the Delirium Tremens, 

Hors de combat [Fr., out of fight) : 
disabled from the contest. [Lord 
Chesterfield, Letters, Bk. II, No. cxii 

Horse to an ass, To come from a : see Ass. 
Horse. To go from an ass to a : see Ass. 
Horse of another colour, A : a different 

Horse, A dark : a candidate of whose 

capacity and qualifications little or 

nothing is publicly known. A racing 

Horse, To flog a dead : see Dead horse. 
Horse and foot : completely ; with all 

one's might. In allusion to the 

former two branches of an army. 

[Chapman, An Humerous Daye's 

Myrth (1599)] 
Horse Guards, The : the headquarters of 

the Commander-in-Chief of the British 

forces ; formerly the office - of the 

Horse Guards. 


Horse and harness. To come for : to 

come in order to serve one's own ends. 
Horse, To get upon one's high : to 

pretend to a dignity higher than that 

to which one is entitled. 
Horse licks his ear. Before a : very 

promptly. [Heywood, Proverbes 


Horse to the pond. To lead a : to perform 
the easier half of an operation. From 
the proverb, ' You can lead a horse to a 
pond but you can't make him drink.' 

Horse, To ride the high : see High. 

Horse Latitudes, The : a portion of the 
Atlantic Ocean between 30° and 35° 
North, where calms were frequent and 
in consequence sailing vessels con- 
veying horses used often to have to 
throw their cargoes overboard. 

Horse Marines, The : a self-contra- 
diction; but a nickname of the 17th 
Lancers, two of whose men once had 
been previously in the Marines. 

Horse to market. To run before one's : 
to reckon up one's profits prematurely. 

Horse in the mouth. To look a gift : to 
criticize a gift. [Heywood, Proverbes 


Horse night-cap, A : a bundle of straw. 
[Greene, Contention Between Liberality 
and Prodigality , I, ii (1602)] 

Horse play : rough play in which 
horses might participate. [Vanbrugh 
and Gibber, The Provoked Husband, 
H, i (1728)] 

Horse sense : strong common sense. 

Horse Tails, The : the Turks. 

Horse, To talk : to boast. A racing 

Horse, A Trojan : a concealed danger. 
In allusion to the wooden horse left 
behind by the Greeks at Troy. 

Horse, To ride the wooden : see Wooden 

Horse, To work on the dead : to do work 
for which payment has been made in 

Horses together. To set one's : to join 
forces ; to co-operate. [Walter Pope, 
Life of Seth Ward, Bp. of Salisbury 

Horses while crossing a stream. To change 
(swop) : see Swap. 

Hortus Siccus, A {Lat., dry garden) : a 
herbarium or collection of dried plants. 

Hospitaller, A : a Knight Hospitaller or 
member of an order of military monks 
which was founded at Jerusalem 
(c. 1048) by It. merchants for the 
assistance of poor pilgrims. The 

191 [Hotel 

Order was known variously as Brothers 
of the Hospital of St. John the Baptist, 
Knights of the Hospital of St. John 
of Jersusalem, Knights of Rhodes, 
Knights of Malta. 

Host in oneself. To be a : to be above the 
average in value or use in a contest. 
The phrase was used by the Duke of 
Wellington in reference to Lord John 
Russell, in conversation in 1838 or 
1839. A similar phrase, ' Himself a 
host,' had been used by Pope in his 
transl. of the Iliad, Bk. Ill, 293 

Host, To reckon without one's : to over- 
look a factor of great importance. 

Hostages to fortune. To give : to handi- 
cap oneself, e.g., by marriage, in the 
struggle for existence. [Bacon, 
Essays : Of Marriage and Single Life 

Hot blood. In : excitedly. [Bacon, 
Essays : Of Death (1625)] 

Hot c^es, To sell like : see Sell. 

Hot and cold. To blow : to be uncertain 
of mind or intention. An allusion to 
one of iEsop's Fables. 

Hot as fire. As : intensely hot. [Barclay, 
Ship of Fools (1509)] 

Hot for . . To get too : to become a 
centre of annoyance or persecution. 
See Hot for. To make it. 

Hotfoot : rapidly ; hastily. [Map, 
Body and Soul (1300)] 

Hot (and strong). To give it a person : 
to punish severely ; to scold. 

Hot Gospeller, A : a Puritan (after 1660). 
The original Hot-Gospeller was Edw. 
Underbill of Worcester who lived in 
the reign of Queen Mary. 

Hot for • . To make it : to make a place 
or situation very uncomfortable. 
[Gosson, Schoole of Abuse (1579)] 

Hot shot, A : a skirmishing soldier ; 
one who shoots hotly. 

Hot as toast. As : comfortably warm, 
[Two Cookery Books (1430)] 

Hot water. In : in trouble. In allusion 
to the ordeal by hot water. [Lisle 
Papers, XI, 100 (1537)] 

Hotch-potch, To bring into : to group 
properties together preparatory to an 
equal division. Fr., Hochepot, the 
family pot [hocher, to shake ; pot, pot) . 

Hotch-potch : (i) a dish consisting of 
various ingredients ; (2) a mixture. 
See also previous entry. [Hall, 
Satires (1597I] 

Hotel Dieu, A {Fr., mansion of God) : 
a hospital. 


Hotspur, A : a fiery-tempered person. 

In allusion to Harry Percy (Hotspur) 

(1 364- 1 403). 
Hound a person. To : to pursue a person 

relentlessly, as if with the assistance 

of a hound ; to persecute. 
Hounds and run with the hare. To hunt 

with the : see Hare, To hold with the. 
Houndsfoot trick, A : a rascally trick. 

Houndsfoot = a scoundrel. 
Hour, The eleventh : the latest possible 

moment. See the Parable of the 

Labourers (Matthew, xx). 
Hour, In an evil : acting under an 

unfortunate impulse. Phrase derived 

from astrology. 
Hours, A Book of : a book of prayers to 

be said at the Canonical Hours {q.v.). 
Hours, Canonical : Matins, Lauds, Prime, 

Terce, Sext, None and Vespers ; the 

seven periods of the day set apart for 

prayer in the Early Christian and 

Roman Catholic Churches. 
Hours, To keep good : to be home or go 

to bed betimes at night. [Jos. Hall, 

Characters, Bk. II : The Busybody 

Hours, The small : one to three a.m. 
House, The : the House of Commons. 
House afire. Like a : very rapidly ; as 

quickly as a house would bum. 
House, Atop of the : in a state of anger 

or other excitement. 
House, To bring down the : to call forth 

so great applause as might possibly 

cause the building to collapse. 
House of cards, A : see Cards. 
House of Correction, A : a prison for 

minor offences. 
House divided against itself, A : a party, 

family, etc., split by internal 

dissension. {^Matthew, xii, 25] 
House of God, The : a place of worship. 

[loth cent.] 
House on one's head, To pull a : to get 

into trouble. 
House and home. To eat one out of : to 

flourish at the expense of another so 

as to endanger his welfare. [Shakes- 
peare, 2 Henry IV, II, i (1597-8)] 
House in order. To set one's : to put one's 

affairs straight. [Dryden, Absalom 

and Achltophcl : To the Reader (1681)] 
House, The Lower : see Lower. 
House, To keep open : to exercise general 

hospitality. [Thos. Nash, Summer's 

Last Will and Testament, 11. 1614-6 

House of Bimmon, To bow down in the : 

to conform outwardly while opposed 

192 [Hnb 

inwardly ; as Naaman did in the 
Temple of Rimmon after his conversion 
to Judaism. [II Kings, v, i8] 

House, The Upper : see Upper. 

House out of the windows. To throw the : 
to throw everything into confusion. 
From the French. [Field, A Woman 
is a Weathercock, IV, ii (1612)] 

Houses, As safe as : thoroughly safe. 

Household gods : furniture and other 
domestic property. Metaphor drawn 
from the domestic gods of the 

Household Troops : troops appointed to 
guard the Royal Household, viz., the 
Life Guards, the Royal Horse Gujirds, 
the Grenadier, Coldstream, Scots and 
Irish Guards. 

Household word, A : a proverbial saying 
familiar to everyone. [Shakespeare, 
Henry V, IV, iii, 51-5 (1599)] 

Housemaid's knee : an affection of the 
knee, induced by kneeling. 

House-tops, To cry from the : to 
announce loudly and publicly. In 
allusion to a custom prevalent in the 

Housewarming, A : a social gathering 
held to celebrate the entrance into a 
new house. [Evelyn, Diary, Nov. 
28, 1661] 

Houyhnhnms, The : a race of human 
horses described in Swift, Gulliver's 
Travels (1726). 

Howard, The female : Mrs. Elizabeth 
Fry (1780-1844). In allusion to John 
Howard (1726^-90), the philanthropist, 
who devoted himself to the welfare 
of prisoners. 

Howards, The : the British aristocracy. 
The Howard family (Duke of Norfolk) 
stands at its head. 

Howe of the night. In the : in the middle 
of the night. 

Howler, A : a glaring blunder ; that 
which metaphorically howls in the 
hearing of those who know what is 

Howling wilderness, A : an empty 
wilderness. {Deuteronomy, xxxii, 10] 

Hub (of the Universe), The : Boston. 
Mass. In allusion to the following 
passage from Oliver Wendell Holmes, 
Autocrat of the Breakfast Table, ch. vi 
(1859) : ' Boston State-house is the 
hub of the solar system.' The hub is 
the centre of a wheel. 

Hub of the Universe (world). The : any 
centre considered by its inhabitants to 
be of great importance. 


Hub, Up to the : entirely ; as far as 
possible. Like a cart sunk in the mud 
up to the hub of its wheels. 

Hubert, Praise from Sir : see Praise. 

Huckleberry, Above one's : out of one's 

Huckleberry above one's Persimmon, A : 
something beyond one's ability. In 
allusion to the preference in the 
Southern of the U.S. for the 
huckleberry above the persimmon 

Hudibrastic : mock-heroic. In the manner 
of Butler's Hudibras (1663). 

Hue and cry (Fr., huer, to shout after) : 
general pursuit after a fugitive. \_A 
Warnivg for Faire Women, II, 11. 778 

Huff and ding, To : to bounce and 
swagger. [Arbuthnot, History of John 
Bull, ch. 15 (171 3)] 

Huggins and Muggins : a pretender to 
importance. Probably derived from 
Dutch, Hoogtnogende, all-powerful, a 
title of the Dutch states-general. 
[Butler, Hudibras (1663)] 

Huguenot, A : a French protestant. The 
name first appeared in France about 
1560, having been introduced from 
Switzerland where it was in use as a 
political nickname. Germ., Eidgenossen, 

Huguenot Pope, The : Philippe de 
Mornay (1549-1623), Fr. protestant 
statesman and writer. 

Hull cheese. To eat : to get drunk. After 
Hull cheese, a strong beer formerly 
brewed at Hull. [Ray, Proverbs 

Hull, As strong as : very strong indeed. 

In allusion to the former fortifications 

of the City of Hull. 
Hum and haw. To : to stammer and 

express hesitation in speech. In 

allusion to the meaningless sounds 

introduced between words by one who 

hesitates in his speech. [Rob. Amim, 

A Nest of Ninnies (1608)] 
Hum of men. The busy : a busy city or 

other resort of people. [Milton, 

L' Allegro, 1. 120 (c. 1633)] 
Human clay : see Clay. 
Human probability. In all : with practical 

certainty. {^Fhe Spectator, No. 72 


Humaner Letters : see Litterae 

Humanities, The : learning concerned 
with human culture, e.g., the lan- 
guages, literature, rhetoric. 



Humble pie. To eat : to b« subservient 
or obsequious, esp. to abandon a 
higher position. At hunting banquets 
the umbles (heart, liver, etc.) of 
venison were made into pies and 
reserved for the hunt servants, etc. 

Humbug ; A humbug : deception ; a 
deceiver. Either It., uomo brigiardo, 
a lying man, or Irish, uim bog, soft 
copper, has been suggested as a 
derivation. In the second case there 
is a connection with the debased 
coinage, made of an alloy of copper, 
etc., which was issued from the Dublin 
mint by James II. [The Student, 
Vol. n, p. 41 (1751)] 

Humming beer : strong beer, which 
causes the head of the drinker to hum. 

Humming cup of sack, A : a frothing 
cup of sack. 

Hump, To get the : to become ill- 
tempered and depressed. [Nashe, 
Lenten Stuff e (1599)] 

Humphrey, To dine with Duke : to go 
hungry. The monument of Sir John 
Beauchamp in Old St. Paul's Cathedral 
was popularly believed to be that of 
Humphrey, Duke of Gloucester. 
Starving people used to frequent St. 
Paul's. Hence to dine with Duke 
Humphrey came to mean to have no 
dinner at all. Another explanation, 
current at Oxford, is derived from the 
Bodleian Library, orig. founded by 
Humphrey, Duke of Gloucester. When 
a student remained in the Library dur- 
ing the dinner-hour he is said to have 
dined with Duke Humphrey. The 
phrase, however, orig. meant ' to 
accept hospitality,' after the proverbial 
hospitality extended to allcomers by 
Humphrey, Duke of Gloucester (1391- 


Humpty Dumpty : (i) a short, stubby 
person ; (2) that which once damaged 
can never be repaired. From the 
nursery rhyme so-named. 

Hundred' Days, The : March to June, 
1815. The period between Napoleon's 
escape from Elba and the Battle of 
Waterloo. The phrase was coined by 
the Comte de Chambord in addressing 
Louis XVIII. 

Hundred miles away (off). Not a : a 
locution intended to indicate ' not very 
far away ' without indicating the exact 

Hundred Years' War, The : the series of 
wars between England and France 
v/hich lasted from about 1338 to 1453. 




Hung up. To be : to be impeded, 
involved. [The Spectator, No. 551 

Hungary Water : a perfume. After a 
Queen of Hungary to whom the recipe 
for it was given by a hermit. 

Hunger Strike, A : persistent abstention 
from food on the part of political 
prisoners, so as to secure their release 
or gain come concession to which they 
consider themselves entitled. The 
government in many instances con- 
ceded the demands in order to avoid 
the odium of permitting the prisoners 
to die in prison. The practice seems 
to have originated in Russia, but was 
widely practised by women political 
prisoners in England who were agi- 
tating for the enfranchisement of their 
sex during the first and second decades 
of the 20th cent., and also by Irish 
political prisoners somewhat later. 

Hungry Forties, The : the earlier half of 
the fifth decade of the 19th cent, in 
England immediately before the repeal 
of the Com Laws. 

Hungry (Greedy) as a hawk. As : very 
hungry. [Martial, Epigrams, Bk. IX, 
Iv, 9-10 ; Taylor, Short Relation of a 
Long Journey (1652)] 

Hungry as a hunter, As : very hungry. 
[Trapp (1650)] 

Hungry as a wolf. As : since ancient 
times the wolf has been in all countries 
the frequent illustration of a voracious 

Hunkers : Conservatives ; Democrats 
in Amer. politics. Introduced c. 1845. 
Dutch, honk, home. 

Hunks, An old : a stingy old man. 
[Historie of Albino and Bellama 

Hunt's dog. Like : self-willed ; one who 
will do neither one thing nor the other. 
Hunt, a Yorkshire labourer, had a dog 
which he left at home when he went to 
church on Sundays. The dog barked 
and howled so loudly as to disturb the 
congregation. He then determined to 
take it with him to church, but the 
dog declined to enter the churchyard. 

Hunter, The mighty : Nimrod. 

Hunter, Mrs. Leo : a lady whose principal 
occupation is the attraction of 
celebrities into the social circle of 
which she is the centre. After a 
character in Dickens, Pickwick Papers 

Hunter's Uass, A : any hurried pro- 
ceeding. Orig. a brief mass recited 


hurriedly by hunters eager to set off 
for the chase. 

Hunter's Moon, The : the full moon of 
the middle or end of October, the 
beginning of the hunting season. 

Huntingdon Sturgeon, A : an ass's foal. 
In allusion to a story told by Pepys in 
his Diary of the natives of Huntingdon 
mistaking a young donkey floating on 
the water for a sturgeon. 

Hurdygurdy, A (onomatopoeic) : a 
hand organ or other primitive musical 
instrument. [Peter Pindar, The 
Royal Tour (1795)] 

Hurly-burly, A : a noise ; disturbance. 
In allusion to the tumult of ancient 
battles, the hurling of spears, etc. 
[R. B., Appius and Virginia, 1. 899 

Husband's boat. The : the boat that used 
to leave London for Margate on 
Saturday afternoons in the summer. 
Many husbands used habitually to use 
it to join their families while on 

Husband's tea : very weak tea. 

Hush up. To : to suppress all mention 
of . . [Bunyan, 2' he Holy War (1682)] 

Hush-money : money paid to avoid 
exposure ; blackmail. [Richard 
Steele, The Tatler, No. 26 (1709)] 

Husk from the grain. To separate : to 
separate the good from the bad. An 
agricultural metaphor. 

Hussar, A : a light cavalry soldier. 
Orig. one of the national cavalry of 
Hungary and Croatia. (Magyar, 
husz, twenty, ar, price of). Matthias 
Corvinus, King of Hungary, enjoined 
every twenty families to support one 

Hustle-cap, To play at : to play pitch 
and toss, a game in which coins are 
hustled or shaken together in a cap. 
[Scott, Fortunes of Nigel, cti. 11 (1822)] 

Hyacinth, A : a plant and its flower. 
After a Laconian youth who was killed 
by Apollo and from whose blood the 
flower sprang. 

Hybla, Bees of: the bees for which 
Hybla Minor in Sicily was famous 
in ancient times. 

Hyblean : sweet. In allusion to Hybla 
in Sicily whose hills were famous for 
their honey. 

Hydra-headed : many headed. In 
allusion to Hydra, a fabulous dragon 
of Grk. mythology, with nine heads, 
any one of which, if cut off, was 
instantly replaced by two new ones. 

Hydra-headed] 195 

Hydra-headed multitude, The : the mob. 
[Dekker, The Gull's Hornbook, ch. 5 

Hygiene : the science of health. From 
Hygeia, the goddess of health. 

Hymeneal ; Hymenean : relating to 
marriage or a wedding. After Hymen, 
the god of marriage and nuptials. 

Hymettus, Bee of : see Attic bee. 

Hyperborean : most northerly ; ex- 
tremely cold. Grk., hyper, excessive, 
and Boreas, the north wind. The 
Hyperborei were a mythical people 
who dwelt beyond the North Wind. 

Hyperion : (poetical) the sun. Properly, 
the father of the sun and moon. 

Hyphenated American : an American 
citizen of foreign birth or parentage, 
such as an Irish-American or a 

I.D.B. : illicit diamond buying (q.v.). 

I.H.S. {Lat., Jesus Hominum Salvator) : 
Jesus, Saviour of Men. Orig. a Grk. 
contraction for Jesus. 

I.O.IJ. : a written admission of a debt. 
Contraction of ' I owe you.' [Breton, 
Court and Countryman (16 18)] 

I per se : the letter I by itself. 

I's and cross the T's, To dot the : see 
Dot the I's, etc. 

Iberia's Pilot : Christopher Columbus 
(1447-1506). In allusion to Iberia, 
the Grk. name for Spain and Portu- 
gal, the country of the Ebro. 

Icarian : soaring ; adventurous. After 
Icarus, who flew with his father from 

Ice, To break the : to initiate conversa- 
tion on a difficult or unpleasant topic. 
Metaphor drawn from navigation in 
frozen waters. [Shakespeare, Taming 
of the Shrew, I, ii, 267 (1594)] 

Ice, To cut no : see Cut. 

Ice Saints : see Frost Saints. 

Ice-brook temper. Sword of : a sword of 
the finest temper. The Spanish 
sword makers used to plunge the 
weapons while still hot into the ice-cold 
water of the Salo. [Martial ; Shakes- 
peare, Othello, V, ii (1604)] 

Ich dien {Germ., I serve) : the motto of 
the Prince of Wales, acquired by 
Edward, the Black Prince, at the 
Battle of Cre9y (Aug. 26, 1346), where 
he slew the King of Bohemia, the 
former holder of it. 

Ichabod {Heb., the glory has departed) : 
an exclamation of lamentation. After 


the name given to the son of Phinehas. 
[I Sam., iv, 21] 

Iconoclast, An : one who rejects every- 
thing that savours of idolatry ; one 
who is heedless of accepted prejudices. 
Lit. (Grk). a breaker of images. The 
original iconoclasts were a party of 
idol breakers who flourished on the 
Continent in the 8th and gth cents. 
The name was afterwards appUed to 
the Huguenots in France and to the 
Puritans in England. 

Ideal Ward : Wm. Geo. Ward, of the 
Oxford Movement (1812-82). 

Ides, The : the 15th of March, May, 
July and October and the 13th of the 
other months in the Roman calendar. 

Ides of March, The : a fatal day. After 
the day foretold for the murder of 
Julius Caesar. [Shakespeare, Julius 
Casar, I, ii (1601)] 

Idiot, The Inspired : Oliver Goldsmith 
(1728-74). So-called by Horace 

Idleness, To eat the bread of: to live 
without labour. [Proverbs, xxxi, 27] 

Idles, To be sick of the : to be lazy. 
[Withal, Dictionary (1634)] 

Idols of the market-place : errors of 
belief arising from language and social 
intercourse ; catch phrases whose 
original meaning is no longer heeded. 
[Francis, Lord Bacon (1625)] 

Ignis Fatuus, An {Lat., foohsh fire) : 
(i) a will of the wisp, apparent but un- 
approachable light floating over 
marshy ground ; (2) an Utopian 
scheme that cannot be realized. For 
the second sense see Francis Quarles, 
Shepherd's Oracles, nth Eclogue 

Hiad, An : a long series of struggles or 
troubles. After the title of Homer's 
great poem. 

Hiad of Old English Literature, The : 
The Knight's Tale in Chaucer, Canter- 
bury Tales (14th cent.). 

Hiad, The French : The Romance of the 
Rose (1230-70) by Guillaume di Lorris 
and Jean de Meung. 

Hiad, The German : The Nibelungenlied 

Hiad of Ills (Woe), An : a number of 
troubles falling together. So-called by 
Cicero, Ad Atticum, VIII, ii. 

Hiad, The Portuguese : The Lusiad (1572) 
of Camoens. 

Hiad, The Scotch : The Epigoniad (1757) 
of William Wilkie which is written in 
heroic couplets, based on the 4th 
book of the Iliad. 

nk. Of that {S:of.) : of the san;e, g.g., 
Grant of that ilk, Grant of Grant. 

Illicit Diamond Baying ; I.D.B. : the 
S. African offence of purchasing 
diamonds stolen by employees of 
diamond-mining companies. 

Illiterate Parliament, The : see Parlia- 
ment, The Lack-learning. 

Ill-starred : unlucky ; bom under un- 
favourable stars. An astrological 

niaminated Doctor, The : (i) Raymond 
LuUy (1235-1315), scholastic philoso- 
pher ; (2) Johann Tauler (1300-61), 
Germ, mystic. 

Uluminati (Lat., Lit up) : the name 
borne by several religious sects which 
flourished in Europe from the 15th to 
the 19th cents. They claimed to enjoy 
a light on their subject superior to 
that of other mortals. 

Immortal Four of Italy, The : Dante. 
Petrarch, Ariosto and Tasso, It. 

Immortal Maids, The : the nine Muses or 
goddesses of literature and music. 

Immortal Three, The : Homer, Dante, 

Immortal Tinker, The : John Bunyan 
(1628-88), author of The Pilgrim's 
Progress, who was a tinker by trade. 

Immortals, The Forty : see Academy, 

Imperial, An : a style of beard, as worn 
by the Emp. Napoleon III. 

Imperial City, The : Rome. 

Imperium in Imperio, An [Lat., an 
empire within an empire) : an inde- 
pendent authority within the juris- 
diction of a government. [Wm. Penn, 
Some Fruits of Solitude, Pt. I, § 354 

Imperium et Libertas (Lat., Empire and 
Liberty) : phrase used by Lord 
Beaconsfield at the Guildhall, London, 
on Nov. 9th, 1879, to describe the 
policy of his government. He had 
employed the same phrase in a speech 
on agricultural distress, Feb. nth, 
1 85 1 . The phrase had previously been 
used by Cicero in his peroration to 
4th Catiline, and by Clarendon in his 
History of the Rebellion, I, 163 (1702). 

Improve the occasion. To : to draw a 
moral lesson from an event. 

In all conscience : as far as one can go 
without transgressing the laws. 

In capite {Lot., in chief) : holding direct 
from the crown. [Staunford, King's 
Prerogative, ch. i (1548)] 



In ease ( : in actnal existence. 

[W. Warner, Albion's England, Bk. V, 

xxviii (1589)] 
In excelsis (Lat., in the highest) : [W. 

Watson, Quodlibets of Religion and 

State (1602)] 
In extenso (Lat., in full) : [Congress 

Debates, II, ii, 1767 (1826)] 
In extremis (Lat., in the last) : at the 

point of death. [Ellis, Original 

Letters, 3rd Ser., I, Ixxx, p. 199 

(c. 1548)] 
In flagrante delicto : see Flagrante. 
In forma pauperis (Lat., in the form of a 

pauper) : exempted from the payment 

of law costs. \_Soliman and Perseda 

In loco parentis : see Loco parentis. 
In medias res (Lat., in the middle things) : 

into the middle of a narrative. 

[Horace, Ars Poetica, 148] 
In nubibus (Lat., in the clouds) : not 

yet practicable. [Babington, Com- 
mandments (1583)] 
In partibus (infidelium) (Lat., in the 

regions of the infidels) : part of the 

title of a bishop appointed nominally 

to a heathen or heretical country. 
In petto : (Lat., in pectore, in the breast), 

privately. [Swift, Works (1701)] 
In petto. Cardinals : cardinals whom the 

pope intends to appoint, but whose 

names have not yet been disclosed. 

See In petto. 
In posse : (Lat., posse, to be able) 

possible but not actual ; the opposite 

of In esse (^.v.). [R. Burton, ^«a/o»ry 

In propria persona (Lat., in one's own 

person) : not by deputy or in writing. 

[Congreve, Double Dealer, IV, i (1693)] 
In re (Lai.) : in the matter of. [W. 

Watson, Quodlibets of Religion and 

State (1602)] 
In statu quo (Lat.) : in the same state 

as . . ; generally, in the same state as 

formerly. [Mabbe, Transl. of Aleman, 

Life of Guzman d'Alfarache (1623)] 
In toto (Lat) : entirely. [Wotton, 

Reliq. : Survey of Education, p. 293 

Ins and outs of ■ . The : all the details 

of .. 
Inaccessible as Abaton, As : see Abaton. 
Incense on a dunghill. To sprinkle : see 

Inch of candle : a former method of sale 

by auction, according to which the 

bidding remained open while the candle 

burnt down an inch. 


Inch and he will take an ell. Give him an : 

yield him a little and he will demand a 
lot. The ell varies from 27 to 54 
inches. [Heywood, Proverbes (1546)] 
Inch of . . Within an : to the very 
utmost of . . [Lilly, Gallathea, I, iv 

Incorruptible, The : Maximilian Robes- 
pierre (1758-94), Fr. revolution?^ry 
leader. So-called by Thos. Carlyle. 

Increment, Unearned : see Unearned. 

Incunabula : books printed before 1 500 ; 
the earliest stages of anything. (Lat., 
swaddling clothes ; childhood.) The 
application of the word is derived from 
the idea that the 15th cent, was the 
period of the infancy of printing. 

Indemnity Act, An : an act of parliament 
giving exemption from punishment 
incurred bj?^ illegal action. 

Independence Day : the 4th of July ; the 
anniversary of the Amer. Declaration 
of Independence in 1776. 

Index ; Index Librorum Prohibitorum : 
the official list of books forbidden by 
the R.C. Church to be read by faith- 
ful Catholics. 

Index Constituency, An : a parlia- 
mentary constituency that polls early 
in a general election and thus gives 
some index or intimation of the 
probable general result. 

Index Expurgatorius ; Index Librorum 
Expurgandorum : a list of books 
permitted by the R.C. Church to 
be read only after deletion of certain 

Index-learning : superficial knowledge 
gained from indexes and similar 
material, instead of from the books 
themselves. [Pope, The Duvciad, Bk. 
I (1728)] 

Indian drug. The : tobacco. On account 
of its discovery among the N. American 

Indian File : single file. Order adopted 
by N. American-Indians when on the 
march, in order to conceal or obliterate 
their tracks. 

Indian gift, An : a reclaimed gift. In 
allusion to the expectation of the N. 
American-Indian when he makes a gift, 
either to receive one in return or to 
have his own restored to him. 

Indian summer, An : a period of warm, 
pleasant weather in the late autumn, 
In allusion to the period of fine weather 
usual in November, of which the N. 
American-Indians take advantage in 
order to complete their harvest. 



Indies, The wealth of the : proverbially 
great wealth. In allusion to that 
drawn by Spain from her Amer. 
colonies. A similar phrase was used 
by classical writers in allusion to India. 

Indulgence, An : a remission of a punish- 
ment for sin, granted by the R.C. 

Indulgences to Rome, To send : to 
perform a labour of supererogation. 

Inexpressibles : trousers, which may not 
be mentioned, or expressed in words, 
by the prudish. [Peter Pindar, A 
Rowland for an Oliver : Ode to 
Affectation (1790)] 

InfaUibility, His : (in ridicule) the Pope. 
In allusion to the doctrine of papal 

Infant prodigy. An : a child of precocious 
genius. [D. E. Williams, Life of Sir 
Thomas Lawrence, I, 51 (1831)] 

Infernal machine. An : an explosive 
machine used by terrorists for the 
perpetration of outrages. 

Infirmity of a noble mind. The last : 
see Last. 

Infra dig. : a corruption of Lat., infra 
dignitatem, beneath one's dignity. 

Inglorious arts of peace : see Peace. 

Initiative, The : a political instrument 
whereby a certain number of electors 
can initiate proposals for consideration 
by the legislature. 

Inkhom mate. An : a dilettante in 
reading or writing. In allusion to the 
horn in which clerks used formerly to 
carry their pens, ink, etc. [Shakes- 
peare, I Henry VI, III, i (1592)] 

Inkhom, To smell of the : to be pedantic. 
[Geo. Gascoigne, Instruction in English 
Verse, § 5 (i575)] 

Inkhom (Inkpot) terms ; Inkhomisms : 
studied expressions, which suggest 
careful preparation. [Wilson, Art of 
Rhetoric, II (1553) ; Jos. Hall, Satires, 
Bk. I, viii, 7-12 (1597)] 

Inkpot, Sons and daughters of the : 
writers for the press. 

Inkpot term. An : see Inkhom term. 

Inkslinging : reckless writing in the 
newspapers, etc. 

Inkle-weavers, As great (thick) as two : 
extremely intimate. On account of 
the intimacy of the weavers of inkle 
(linen tape) who work very closely 
together. An alternative derivation 
is from the secrecy with which the 
Flemish weavers who introduced the 
industry into England in the i6th 
cent, guarded their craft. These 


weavers were few in number, and 
forming a close corporation amid alien 
surroundings, became proverbial for 
their mutual friendship. [Dictionary 
of the Canting Crew (1700)] 

InUing of . . To get (have) an : to get a 
hint or suspicion of . . [Heywood, 
Proverbes (1546)] 

Inns of Court, The : the Inner Temple, 
the Middle Temple, Lincoln's Inn and 
Gray's Inn. 

Inner man. The : the stomach. 

Innocent as a babe unborn. As : quite 
harmless or innocent. [Middleton, 
Family of Love (1608)] 

Innocent as a (sucking) dove. As : the 
dove is one of the emblems of innocence 
and is referred to as such in Matthew, 
X, 16. [Wm. Rowley, A Woman 
Never Vexed, IV, i (1632)] 

Innocents' Day : December 28th. A 
Festival in commemoration of the 
slaughter of the Innocents by Herod. 

Innocents, The Massacre of the : the 
announcement in the House of 
Commons, towards the end of a session, 
of the measures already introduced 
with which it is not proposed to pro- 
ceed further. 

Inquisition, The : a Roman Catholic 
tribunal, instituted in 12 15 for the 
suppression of heresy, which became 
notorious for its extreme tyranny and 

Insane root. The : hemlock, which was 
formerly supposed to induce insanity. 

Institution, The : slavery. 

Instrument of Instruments, The : the 
hand. [Anth. Brewer, Lingua, IV, 
vi (1607)] 

Insult to injury. To add : to offend as 
well as harm. [Cicero, Pro Tullio, 
XVII, 41 ; Horace, Odes, III, v, 26] 

Intelligencia, The : the professional or 
educated class, derived as a rule from 
the lower class in the community, 
whose education has aroused ambitions 
or desires the realization of which are 
prevented by the circumstances in 
which they find themselves. This 
class, of its nature dissatisfied, has 
often taken a prominent part in recent 
continental political revolutions. 

Intents and purposes. To all : practically. 
[HazUtt, Characteristics, § 102 (1837)] 

Inter canem et lupum {Lat., between the 
dog and the wolf) : between two 

International, The : the international 
socialist organization founded by Karl 



Marx in London in 1864. Properly, 
The International Workingmen's 
Intransigeant, An ; Intransigent, An : 
an advanced Radical or Republican, 
steadfast in his opinions and averse 
from compromise. Lat., in, not, 
and transigere, to come to an agree- 
Invindbles, The : an Amer.-Irish revolu- 
I tionary society, esp. active from 1880 
I to 1885. 

I Invincible Doctor, The : William of 
i Occam (d. c. 1349), scholastic phil- 
I osopher and Franciscan. 
I Invisible King, The : God. 
1 Invita Minerva {Lat.) : with difficulty 
I (esp. mental). Lit., Minerva (the 
goddess of Wisdom) being unwilling. 
I [Cicero, De Officiis, I, 31 ; Horace, 
; Ars Poetica, 385] 

i lo psean : a paean of joy. After Apollo 
I Paean, the healing god. See lo. To 
1 sing. 
lo. To sing : to utter exclamations of 
joy. lo was the Lat. and Grk. exclam- 
ation of joy. [J as. Shirley, Poems : 
lo! (1646)] 
Ionic accomplishments : gesture and 
dress. Ionia was one of the divisions 
of ancient Greece. 
Ipse dixit. An : Lat. transl. of (Grk.) 
AvTOQ efa, Himself said it, a phrase 
used by the disciples of Pythagoras 
Zacynthius (fl. 540-510 B.C.). An 
ipse dixit has come to mean a state- 
ment which displays self-confidence. 
IPaston Letters, III, No. 808 (1477)] 
Ipsissima verba {Lat., the exact words) : 

[Southey, Letters, II (1807)] 
Ipso facto {Lat., by the very fact) : apart 
from all external considerations. 
[Liturgical Services of Queen Elizabeth 
Irish Agitator, The : Daniel O'Connell 

Irish apricots : potatoes. . 

Irish bulls : see Bull. 
Irish of the East, The : the Burmese. 
Irish Levellers : see Levellers. 
Irish wedding. To go to an : to receive a 
black eye. In allusion to the quarrels 
supposed to break out as a rule at 
festivities among the Irish. 
Irishman's crossing. An : a method of 
progress by frequent crossing and re- 
crossing of the street in order to avoid 
Iron Age, An : an age of suffering and 


Iron Age, The : the last and the worst 

of the periods of the world's life. 
Iron, Blood and : see Blood. 
Iron Chancellor, The : Prince Otto von 

Bismarck (1815-98). In allusion to 

his iron will. 
Iron City, The : Pittsburg, U.S.A. In 

allusion to its iron manufactures. 
Iron Cross, The : a Prussian decoration 

awarded for bravery on the battlefield. 
Iron discipline : the strictest discipline. 
Iron dogs of the air. The : church-bells. 

So-called by Heine. 
Iron Duke, The : the Duke of Wellington 

(1769-1852). The term was first 

applied to a steamboat, named The 

Duke of Wellington. 
Iron Emperor, The : Nicholas I of 

Russia (1796-1855). 
Iron enters into his soul. The : he is the 

object of very hard usage or severe 

treatment. After the incorrect Vulgate 

version of Psalm civ, 1 8, which should 

have been translated, ' His person 

entered into the iron.' 
Iron hand in a velvet glove. An : rigid 

firmness, accompanied by courtesy 

and politeness. 
Iron horse. The : the reiilway engine. 
Iron is hot, To strike while the : to take 

advantage of the opportunity that is 

offered. [Heywood, Proverbes (1546)] 
Iron Maiden of Nuremberg, The : an 

instrument of torture, lined with 

spikes and constructed so as to embrace 

a man. 
Iron, A man of : a man of very strong 

Iron mask. The man in the : a mysterious 

prisoner in the Bastille in the reign of 

Louis XIV whose identity has never 

been disclosed. 
Iron rations : emergency army rations, 

consisting of tins of meat and soup and 

hard biscuits. 
Iron, To rule with a rod of: to rule 

Iron to swim. To teach : see Teach. 
Irons in the fire. Other : alternative 

courses of action. [Seneca, Apocolo- 

cyntosis Claudii Caesaris, 9 ; G. 

Harvey, Pierce's Supererogation (1593)] 
Irons in the fire. To have too many : to 

be engaged in too many undertakings. 

[Sir W. Paget (1549)] 
Irons, Just off the : just finished his 

training. [Scott, Red Gauntlet, Letter 

13 (1824)] 
Ironclad, An : a great armoured man- 

199 [irie 

Ironclad Oath, The : the oath of office 
instituted in the U.S. at the conclusion 
of the Civil War and intended to 
exclude all possible opponents of the 

Ironsides : Cromwell's troops. So-called 
from their invincible determination in 

Irony of fate. The : a development of 
events that induces a cause to have 
the opposite of its expected effect. 

Irredentism : the political movement for 
the incorporation in a state of neigh- 
bouring territory inhabited by a popu- 
lation racially identical with the 
population of the state to be enlarged. 
Orig. the movement to incorporate in 
Italy the Italian-speaking territories 
of Austria. From the political cry, 
Italia irredenta, Italy unredeemed. 

Irrefragable Doctor, The : Alexander of 
Hales (d. 1245), Eng. scholastic 

Irritable Genus, The : poets and other 
men of letters. [Horace, Epistles, II, 
ii, 102] 

Irtish Ferry, To cross the : to be sent into 
retirement or exile. The ferry on the 
Irtish was crossed by political prisoners 
who went into exile in Siberia during 
the period of the Czars. 

Ims, As poor as : very poor. In allusion 
to the beggar Irus, who acted as 
messenger between the suitors and 
Penelope during the absence of Ulysses 
at the Trojan War. {Odyssey, XVIII] 
The simile was current in Grk. and 
Rom. literature. 

Irvingites : see Catholic Apostolic 

Ishmaelite, An : an outlaw. After 
Ishmael, ' whose hand was against 
every man.' 

Island City, The : Montreal, Canada. 

Island of Saints, The : Ireland. On 
account of the strong hold Christianity 
had on its inhabitants in early days. 

Island of the Seven Cities, The : an 
imaginary earthly paradise, supposed 
to have been discovered by seven 
bishops who left Spain during the 
period of the Moors. 

Islands of the Blest, The : the Fortunate 
Islands {q.v.). 

Isle of Death, The : Norfolk Island, a 
convict settlement. 

Isle of Lanterns, The ; Lantern-land : 
an imaginary land inhabited by 
pretenders to knowledge. [Rabelais, 
Pantagruel, V, 32-33)] 

Isle] : 

Isle of Mist, The : the Isle of Skye. In 

allusion to its customary weather. 
Isle of Saints, The : see Island of Saints. 
Isles, The Fortunate : see Fortunate 

Isms : movements, doctrines and 
theories. In allusion to the termina- 
tion ' ism,' denoting a movement, 
doctrine or theory. 
Isocrates, The French : Flechier (1632- 
1710), Bp. of Nismes. After Isocrates, 
the famous Athenian orator who lived 
from 436 to 338 B.C. 
Issachar's ears : ass's ears. In allusion 
to the blessing of Issachar in Genesis, 
xlix, 14. 
Italia Irredenta (H-, Italy unredeemed) : 
lands adjacent to Italy inhabited by 
an Italian-speaking population under 
alien rule. They now comprise part of 
Istria and Dalmatia in Jugo-Slavia, 
Ticino in Switzerland, Nice, Malta 
and Corsica. 
Italian Froebel : see Froebel. 
Italian Moli^re, The : Carlo Goldoni 
(1707-93). After Jean Baptiste 
Moli^re, the distinguished Fr. drama- 
tist, who lived from 1622 to 1673. 
Italian Pindar, The : Gabriel Chiabrera 
(1552-1637). After Pindar, Theban 
lyric poet, who lived from 522 to 443 
Italic : a kind of printing type invented 
by Aldus Manutius (c. 1500) and dedi- 
cated by him to the States of Italy. 
Italiote, An : an Italian subject of 

Greek race. 
Italy, Young : see Young Italy. 
Itch for . . To have an : to have a great 
desire for . . [Greene, Selimiis, Pt. I, 
11. 188-9 (1594)] 
Itch for gold. An : a great desire for 


Itching ears. To have : to be inquisitive 

or eager for news. [II Timothy, iv, 3] 

Itching palm. An : a great desire for 

money. [Shakespeare, Julius Cessar, 

IV, iii, 10 (1603)] 

Ivan Ivanovitch : the general name for 

a Russian. 
Ivory, Black : African slaves. Both 
slaves and ivory were exported from 
the same region. 
Ivory Gate, The : in classical m5rthology 
the gate of sleep through which false 
dreams enter. The phrase is based 
upon a Grk. pun, elephas, ivory, and 
elephairomai, to cheat with vain hopes. 
Ivory, To touch : to play at dice or 


I Ivy bush. To beat the same : see Beat. 

Ivy bush. Like an owl in an : with a 
sapient, vacant stare. Ivy bushes 
were supposed to be the favourite 
haunts of owls. 

Izion : disappointment following un- 
justified expectation. In allusion to 
the mythical king of Thessaly who, 
desiring Juno, was punished by being 
bound to a wheel kept in perpetual 

Izion's wheel : the treadmill. In 
allusion to Ixion, King of Thessaly. 

Jack, A : (i) a boy or lad ; (2) a worthless 
paltry fellow ; (3) an instrument that 
takes the place of a boy, e.g., a boot- 
Jack of . . To be on the : to attack with 
violence. From Jack, a horse-soldier's 
upper garment. 
Jack Adams, A : a fool. 
Jack-boy, A : a stable boy or other boy 
employed as a menial. [Pol. Poems 

Jack-of-all-trades, A : a handy man, who 
can turn his hand to a variety of 
occupations. Often master pi none. 
[Lady Alimoyiy, II, ii (1633)] 

Jack of both sides, A : a person who shifts 
his support from one party to another 
in a controversy. [Nashe, Terrors of 
the Night (1594)] 

Jack of the bowl : a Swiss fairy ; for 
whose provision a bowl of refreshment 
was set in the house every night. 

Jack Brag : a vulgar braggart. From a 
novel of that title by Theodore Hook 
(1837). But see Withal, Dictionarie 
(1608), for Jacke Bragger, in the same 

Jack, To be common : to be at everyone's 
beck and call. [Heywood, Proverbes 

Jack, Cousin : a Comislunan. 

Jack-a-Dandy : a pert fellow. [Brome, 
Northern Lass, III, ii (1632)] 

Jack-out-of-doors, A : a homeless person. 
[Withal, Dictionarie (1634)] 

Jack-a-dreams : a dreamer, one who 
wastes his life. 

Jack-a-drognes : a lazy, good-natured 
fellow. Dutch, druilen, to be listless. 

Jack (John) (Tom) Drum's entertainment: 
the forcible expulsion of a person. In 
allusion to the drumming of a person 
out of the army. [Stephen Gosson, 
Schoole of Abuse (1579) ; " Jacke 
Drum's Entertainment (1601)] 


Jack Fletcher and his bolt. As like as : 

unlike. ' Jack Fletcher ' is Jack the 

fletcher, and ' his bolt ' the arrow 

which he has made. [Richard 

Edwards, Damon and Piihias, 1. 105 
Jack Fool, A : a Tom Fool. [A Warning 

for Faire Women, II, 11. 161-3 (1599)] 
Jack Frost : the personification of frost. 
Jack-geatlewoman, A : a woman of low 

birth or manners who pretends to be 

a lady. 
Jack and Gill (Jill) : the boy and girl in 

Eng. nursery song. The story is 

derived from Icelandic mythology. 
Jack in the green : a puppet character 

in the Eng. May-day games. 
Jack-hold-my-staff : a servile attendant. 
Jack Ketch : a hangman. From Richard 

Jacquett, the owner of Tyburn Manor, 

the place of execution near London. 
Jack-o'-Lantern : the ignus fatuus (g.v.). 
Jack-a-Lent : a puppet used as an object 

at which to throw missiles as an amuse- 
ment during Lent. 
Jack in the low cellar, A : an unborn 

child. Dutch, Hans-en-kelder (q.v.). 
Jack among the maids, A : a gallant. 
Jack, Every man : see Man. 
Jack-meddler, A : a busybody. [Withal, 

Dictionarie (1608)] 
Jack Nokes (Noakes) : ^e^John-a-Noakes. 
Jack of Norfolk : see Jockey of Norfolk. 
Jack in o3ice, A : a self-important 

official, generally of low rank. 
Jack out of oSQce, A : one who has ceased 

to be a Jack in office {q.v.). [Heywood, 

Proverbes (1546)] 
Jack, To play the : to play the rogue ; 

to lead astray like a Jack-o'-Lantern. 

[Shakespeare, The Tempest, IV, i 

Jack Pudding, A : a showman's buffoon. 

[Milton, Defence of the People of 

England (165 1)] 
Jack Robinson, Before you can say : 

very promptly. Jack Robinson is 

said to have been an eccentric who 

made a practice of paying sudden and 

very brief visits to his neighbours. 

The phrase is a quotation from a 

comic song by Hudson (early 19th 

Jack-sauce : an insolent male person. 
Jack-snip : a tailor, esp. an inefi&cient 

Jack Sprat : a dwarf. According to the 

nursery rhyme he could eat no fat. 

[Marriage of Wit and Scier^ce, FV, i 


I [JaU 

Jack Straw : a man of straw ; a worthless 
man or one of no consequence. [New 
Custom, I, i (1573)] 
Jack Tar, A : a seaman. Jack is the 
generic name for a man of the lower 
classes ; tar is from tarpaulin which 
formed part of the sailor's clothing in 
bad weather. 
Jack-in-the-water, A : a loafer near the 
water's edge, willing to wet his feet 
for a gratuity. 
Jackanapes, A : a saucy fellow ; combin- 
ation of Jack and ape. [Rich. 
Edwards, Damon and Pithias, I. 925 
Jack-boots : high leather boots. When 
first worn by cavalry the legs were 
protected by Jacques or metal plates. 
Jacob's ladder : a rope-ladder used on 
board ship. 

Jacob's staff : a pilgrim's staff. In 
allusion to the pilgrimages to St. 
James of Compostella, or to the 
representations of the Apostle James 
with a staff. 

Jacob's Stone : the Coronation Stone in 
Westminster Abbey. Said to be the 
stone on which the patriarch Jacob 
slept when he dreamt of the angels 
ascending and descending. 

Jacobin, A : a member of a party of 
extreme Fr. revolutionists in 1 789 ; a 
seditious demagogue. From the 
monastery of the Jacobin friars in Paris 
in which the Jacobin party used to hold 
their meetings. The friars derived 
their name from the Rue St. Jacques 
in Paris, where their monastery was 

Jacobite, A : a supporter of James II 
and his house after their expulsion. 
Lat., Jacobus, James. 

Jacquard loom, A : a weaving loom 
invented by Jos. Marie Jacquard 

Jacquerie, La : the peasajit revolt in 
France of 1358. After Jacques Bon- 
homme (James Goodman), the popular 
name for the Fr. peasant. 

Jacques : a Fr. artisan or peasant. 

Jacques Bonhomme (James Goodman) : 
the popular name for the Fr. peasant. 
Orig. applied in contempt by the nobles. 

Jade, The : fortune. In reference to her 
proverbial fickleness. 

Jaeger : hygienic woollen clothing. After 
the Germ, hygienist, G. Jaeger, who 
advocated all-wool clothing. 

Jail bird, A : a prisoner or ex-prisoner. 
The earliest prison for malefactors 

Jamie] 2 

in England was in the form of an open- 
air iron cage. 

Jamie Duff (Sco/.) : a mourner. After an 
eccentric of that name who delighted 
in attending funerals. 

Jamrach, A : a dealer in wild animals. 
After Johann Christian Carl (Charles) 
Jamrach (i 815-91), a London dealer 
in wild animals. 

Janissary, A : a soldier forcibly recruited 
while a young child and kept under 
military control for a very long period. 
Esp. in Turkey (Christian) and Russia 
(Jew.). The Turkish Janissaries who 
formed a privileged class were dis- 
banded in 1825. Turk., Yeni Askary, 
new soldier. Hence the mercenary 
soldier of a tyrant. 

Jansenists : a religious sect prominent in 
France in the 17th and i8th cents. 
Suppressed in 1713. From Cornelius 
Jansen, Bp. of Ypres (1585-1638). 

January : the first month of the year. 
After Janus, the Rom. god of doors 
and gates, to whom the month was 

Janus, To play : to be deceitful and two- 
faced. In allusion to the two faces of 
the god, Janus. [Dekker and Webster, 
Westward Ho, IV, i (1607)]. 

Janus, The Temple of : a Rom. temple 
whose doors were kept open in times of 
war and closed in those of peace. 

Janus, Two-headed : the two-faced god 
whose temple at Rome was always 
kept open during time of war and 
closed when the republic was at peace. 

Japan, To : to varnish objects in the 
manner of the Japanese. 

Jaquemart, A : a clock whose hours are 
indicated by the movements of figures 
of a man and woman. After Jean 
Jaquemart of Dijon, who invented 
that style of clock. 

Jarkman, A : an Abram man (q.v.) ; 
a beggar possessed of some education 
of which he makes full use. From 
J ark, the seal of a forged document. 

Jamac, Le coup de (Fr., Jamac's thrust) : 
a peculiar blow in fencing similar to 
that given by Jamac in a duel with 
La Chateignerail before Henri II in 
July, 1547. 

Jarndyce suit, A : an intermmable law- 
suit. In allusion to the Chancery suit 
of Jarndyce and Jarndyce, described 
in Dickens' Bleak House (1852). 

Jarvey, A : a hackney-coach driver. In 
allusion to Jarvis, the name of a 
notorious one who was hanged. 


Jaundiced eye, A : a prejudiced eye. 

Jaws of death. The : a position of 
extreme danger. [Shakespeare, Twelfth 
Night, III, iv, 394 (1601)] 

Jay, A : a foolish young man who 
squanders his money. After the 
initial letter of Juggins, such a one who 
WcLS notorious in England for a time 
in 1887. 

Jay Hawker State, The : Kansas. In 
allusion to Colonel Jennison of New 
York, the commander of the troops 
there, who was known as the Gay 

Jeames (de la Pluche) : a footman or 
other flunkey. Corruption of James. 
[Thackeray, Jeames's Diary (1845)] 

Jean Crapaud : see Johnny Crapaud. 

Jean de la Suie : a Savoyard. 

Jedburgh Justice : summary punishment 
with or without trial. From the 
measures taken in the reign of James I 
(VI of Scotland) to suppress border raid- 
ing in the neighbourhood of Jedburgh. 

Jeddart Justice : Jedburgh Justice {q.v.). 

Jedwood Justice : Jedburgh Justice {q.v.). 
Jed wood is the district of which 
Jedburgh is the centre. 

Jee, On the : uncomfortable ; irritated. 
[R. L. Stevenson, Catriona, ch. xxiii 

Jeffries, As bad as : probably a reference 
to George Jeffreys (1648-89), the 
notorious Judge Jeffreys of Mon- 
mouth's Rebellion. 

Jehoiada box, A : a box for savings. 
After Jehoiada, the priest, who placed 
a box at the gate of Jerusalem to 
receive money for the repair of the 
Temple. [II Chronicles, xxiv] 

Jehu, A : a coachman, esp. a furious 
driver. In allusion to Jehu, King of 
Israel. [II Kings, ix, 20; J. Crouch, 
Return of Charles II (1660)] 

Jekyll and Hyde : a person possessing 
two apparently distinct characters, 
one good and the other evil. From 
The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and 
Mr. Hyde, by Robert Louis Stevenson 

JeUyby, A BIrs. : a lady who devotes 
herself to public philanthropy and 
neglects her domestic duties. In 
allusion to a character in Dickens' 
Bleak House (1852). 

Jemmie Duff : see Jamie Duff. 

Jemmy Jessamy (Jessamine) : foppish, 
effeminate. From Jemmy (a fop) and 
Jessamy (a fop who wears j^samine 
in his buttonhole). 

Jenkins's] 203 

Jenkins's ear : the ear alleged to have 
been cut off Robert Jenkins, the 
cause of the war between Britain and 
Spain of 1739. 

Jenneting, A : a species of early apple. 
After St. Jean, whose day, June 14th, 
falls about the time of the ripening of 
the apple. 

Jenny, A : a man who concerns himself 
with women's affairs. From the 
female name. 

Jenny I'Ouviiire {Fr., Jenny the working- 
woman) : an industrious seamstress. 
Name invented by Emile Barateau 


Jeremiad, A : a tale of trouble and 
misfortune. From Jeremiah, the 
prophet and author of the Book of 

Jeremiah, A : a prophet of woe. See 

Jeremiah, The British : Gildas (516-70), 
author of Lamentations over the 
Destruction of Britain. So-called by 

Jeremy Diddler : see Diddler. 

Jericho, Go to : Jericho was the name of 
a country manor of Henry VIII to 
which he used sometimes to retire. 
The phrase has also been derived from 
Thos. Heywood, who in his Hierarchie, 
Bk. IV, p. 208 (1635), used -Jericho in 
the sense of a place of concealment or 
banishment. The allusion is to 
II Samuel, x, 5, where David bids his 
servants, who had had half their 
beards cut off, ' to tarry at Jericho till 
their beards were grown.' 

Jericho, To walk to : to conceal oneself ; 
to go into hiding. From II Samuel, 
X, 5, where David bade his servants 
tarry in Jericho until their beards 
were grown. 

Jerman's (German's) lips. As just as : 
apparently an allusion to the firm 
compression of the lips practised 
by Germans. [Heywood, Proverbes 

Jeroboam (of rum, etc.). A : a large 
bottle or bowl. In allusion to Jero- 
boam, King of Israel, ' a mighty 
man of valour,' ' who made Israel to 

Jerry-builder, A : one who erects cheap 
badly-built houses for immediate sale. 
Said to be derived from Ft., jour, a day, 
suggesting temporary. The term 
came into use in Liverpool about 1830. 
There may also be a connection with 
Jericho, whose walls were unstable. 


Jerry shop (Tom and Jerry shop), A: 

a low-class public house. From the 

one made famous in Pierce Egan, 

Life in London (1821). 
Jerrysneak, A : a henpecked husband. 

In allusion to a character in Foote. 

Mayor of Garratt (1764). 
Jerrymander : see Gerrymander. 
Jerusalem artichoke, A : Jerusalem is a 

corruption of Girasole (It.), a sunflower, 

which it resembles. 
Jerusalem (Jew's) Letters : inscriptions 

tattooed on the body. In allusion to 

the former practice of tatooing on the 

arm of visitors to Jerusalem, the name 

of the city, the date and the sign of the 

Jerusalem pony ; Jerusalem, A : a 

donkey. In allusion to the one on 

which Christ entered Jerusalem. 
Jerusalem pony, A : an impecunious 

clergyman who hires out his services 

to colleagues. 
Jesse, To give a person : to give a person 

a sound thrashing, to abuse him 

severely . In allusion to the valour of 

Jesse, the father of David. 
Jesse Tree, A : a genealogical tree 

exhibited in churches in the Middle 

Ages, in which was traced the descent 

of Christ from Jesse. 
Jesse Window, A : a church window 

decorated with a Jesse Tree {q.v.). 
Jests, The Father of : see Father. 
Jesuit's bark : Cinchona. Introduced 

from S. America by Jesuit missionaries. 
Jeu d'Esprit {Fr., a play of wit) : a 

witticism. Used in Eng. in No. 305 

of The Spectator (171 2). 
Jeu de mot, A {Fr., a play on a word) : 

a pun. [Sir W. Scott, Peveril of the 

Peak (1822)] 
Jeunesse dor6e {Fr., gilded youth) : the 

young men of Paris who attempted a 

counter-revolution in 1794. Also the 

young and wealthy class of society 

Jew, As rich as a : from the mistaken 

belief that all, or most, Jews are 

Jewish Plato, The : Philo Judaeus 

(c. 20 B.C. — c. 40 A.D.), Alexandrian 

Jewish philosopher. 
Jewish Socrates, The : Moses Mendels- 
sohn (1729-86). 
Jews' ears : a fungus that grows on the 

elder tree. Lat., Auriculae Judae, 

Judas's ears. From the tradition that 

Judas hanged himself on an elder 



Jew's eye. To be worth a : to be of great 
value. From the practice of some of 
the medieval kings of England of 
threatening blinding as a method of 
extorting money from Jews. 

Jew's harp, A : a primitive musical 
instrument, played with the teeth. 
Corruption of jaws' harp ; or from 
Fr., jeu, a game. 

Jews' Letters : see Jerusalem Letters. 

Jews' Tree, The : the Eucalyptus. So- 
called by the Arabs of Palestine, into 
which country it was introduced by 
modern Jewish settlers. 

Jezebel, A : a brazen-faced, vicious 
woman. In allusion to the wife of 
Ahab, king of Israel. 

Jezebel, A painted : a woman who paints 
her face. In allusion to Jezebel, the 
queen of Ahab, king of Israel. See 
preceding entry. 

Jib, The cut of one's : one's personal 
appearance. Orig. a sailor's ex- 
pression, drawn from the jib of a 

Jiffy, In a : (colloq.) in a very short 
time. [Miinchhausen's Travels, XXIII, 
96 (1785)] 

Jill, A : a young woman. Contraction 
of Juliana. 

Jim Crow : a nigger in the U.S. 
(colloq.). The name was derived from 
a song by Thomas D. Rice (1835). 

Jim Crow car, A : a public conveyance 
set aside for negroes, esp. in the 
southern of the U.S. 

Jim Dandy, A : a rare example, a fine 

Jimson weed : a poisonous weed. From 

Jingo, A ; Jingoism : an extreme 
blustering pseudo-patriot ; chauvin- 
ism, exaggerated patriotism. From 
the refrain of a music-hall song, ' We 
don't want to fight, but, by Jingo ! 
if we do,' supporting Lord Beacons- 
field's foreign policy, and current in 

Jingo, By : an oath. Jingo was a god 
of the heathen Basque mercenaries 
who were introduced into England by 
Edward I. 

Jis, By : an oath. Probably a corrup- 
tion of By Jesus. 

Joan Cromwell's kitchen-stuff tub : 
kitchen perquisites. In allusion to a 
charge brought by Royalists against 
the wife of the Protector Cromwell. 

Job, A : (t) * person of inexhaustible 
patienct ; in allusion to the central 



figure of the Book of Job ; (2) an 
appointment or transaction made at 
the public expense from corrupt or 
semi-corrupt motives. So used by 
Pepys in his Diary. ' Whenever any 
emolument, profit, salary or honour is 
conferred on any person not deserving 
it, that is a job ; if from private friend- 
ship, personal attachment, or any view 
except the interest of the public, any 
one is appointed to any public office — 
that is a job.' (Sheridan). 
Job, A bad (good) : an unfortunate 
(fortunate) event, business, etc. 
[Dictionary of Canting Crew (1700)] 
Job lot, A : a miscellaneous collection of 

Job, As patient as : sm Job (i). 
Job, As poor as : in allusion to Job when 
deprived of all his wealth. [Gower 
(1390 ; T. Wilson, Art of Rhetorike, 
210 (1553)] 
Job's comforter, A : one whose attempts 
at consolation only increase the 
distress. In allusion to the friends of 
Job in the biblical book to which he 
gave the name. 
Jobs' news : bad news. From the story 

of Job. 
Job's post : a bearer of bad news. 

[Job, i, 13-19] 
Job's pound : a prison. 
Job's turkey. As poor as : in allusion to 
Job in his period of extreme mis- 
fortune and a N. Amer.-Ind. proverb 
which refers to the thinness of wild 
turkeys in periods of scarcity. An 
Jockey of Norfolk : Sir John Howard 
(c. 1430-85), the first Duke of Norfolk 
of the Howard family. 
Joe, A : a Joe Miller (q.v.). 
Joe Manton, A : a fowling piece made 
by Joseph Manton, a London gun- 
Joe Miller, A : a stale joke. B'rom a 
jest-book attributed to the comedian 
Joseph Miller (1684-1738) and 
published after his death by John 
Mottley. This was for long the only 
printed collection of Eng. jokes extant. 
Joey, A : a groat. After Joseph Hume 
( 1 775-1 855), member of Parliament, 
who strongly supported the use of the 
John Audley there? Is: John Audley 
was a showman. This signal was 
given by the doorkeeper to bring the 
performance to a speedy conclusion 
in order that a second audience, 


already waiting, may be provided 

John Barleycorn : see Barleycorn. 

John Blunt : a plainspoken, frank man. 

John Bull : the typical Englishman. 
From a character in John Arbuthnot, 
The History of John Bull (17 13). 

John Cheese : a clown. [Ascham, The 
Schoolmaster, Bk. I (1570)] 

John Chinaman : in the U.S. the generic 
term for a Chinaman, first adopted 
into general use at the time of the 
Californian gold rush. 

John Company : the Honourable East 
India Company. From Jan Kom- 
panie, by which name the Dutch East 
India Company was known in the East. 

John Doe and Richard Doe : two 
fictitious names inserted in Eng. writs 
of ejectment prior to 1852. 

John Dory, A : an edible sea-water fish. 
Fr., jaune, yellow, and dorde, golden. 

John Drawlatch : (1) a thief ; (2) an 
idler ; (3) a good-for-nothing. 

John-a-dreams : a stupid, person unable 
apparently to concentrate his mind. 
[Shakespeare, Hamlet II, ii (1602)] 

John Drum's entertainment : see Jack 
Drum's entertainment. 

John Fool : see Jack Fool. 

John 0' Groats to Land's End, From : 
from the extreme north of Scotland to 
the extreme south of England. John 
of Groats and Land's End are the 
names of the extreme points. John 
o' Groat was a Dutchman who settled 
in Scotland in the reign of James 

John-hold-my-staff : asubservient 

John Long, the carrier. To wait for : to 
wait a long time. [Jno. Heywood, 
Proverbes (1546)] 

John-a-napes, A : a Jack-a-napes. 

John-a-No(a)kes, A : a stupid, foolish 
rustic ; a fictitious name for a party 
in a legal action. [Histrio-mastix , IV, 
i, 11. 77-9 (1610)] 

John-a-nods : John-a-dreams {q.v.). 

John Roherts, A : a tankard holding 
sufficient liquor to last a man from 
Saturday to Monday. In allusion to 
John Roberts, M.P., at whose instance 
the Welsh Sunday Closing Act was 
adopted in 1886. 

John, Sir : a priest (contemptuously). 

John of Stiles (Nokes) : see John-a-Styles. 
and John-a-Noakes. 

John-a-Styles : a fictitious name for a 
party in a legal action. 



John Tamson's man : see John Thom- 
son's man. 

John Thomas, A : a flunkey ; a liveried 

John Thomson's man : (Scot.) a man 
ruled by his wife. Probably orig. 
Joan Thomson's man. 

John Trot : a country bumpkin ; a 
stupid, uneducated person. 

John in the wad, A : a will-o'-the-wiap. 

Johnian H05, A : a member of St. 
John's College, Cambridge. 

Johnny, A : a dude, esp. one who spends 
his time about stage doors. 

Johnny Crapaud : a Frenchman. So- 
called by the Eng. seamen during the 
Napoleonic wars. Fr., crapaud, a 
toad, which appears in the emblem of 

Johnny Darby, A : a gendarme ; a 

Johnny Newcome, A : a newborn child. 

Johnny Raw, A : a raw recruit in the 
army or elsewhere. 

Johnny Rebs : Confederate soldiers 
during the Amer. Civil War. So- 
called by their opponents. 

Johnstone's tippet, St. : a halter. 

Joint account. To open a : to get married. 
[Thos. Morton, Town and Country, I, 
ii (1807)] 

Joie de vivre {Fr., joy of living) : the 
physical pleasure derived from a 
feeling of good health. 

Jolly, A : a marine. So-called by sailors. 
Because he is of as much use to a ship 
as the jolly-boat that floats behind 

Jolly god. The : Bacchus, the god of 

Jolly Roger, The : the black flag, the 
ensign of pirates. 

Jolly as a sandboy. As : an allusion to a 
sandboy, a very lively insect found in 
the sand of the seashore. 

Jonah, A : one who brings trouble to his 
associates who in self-defence are com- 
pelled to discard him. In allusion to 
the biblical prophet. 

Jonathan, Brother : a nickname for the 
people of the U.S. From Jonathan 
Trumbull, a confidant of George 
Washington, who frequently alluded to 
him as Brother Jonathan. 

Jonathan and David : see David and 

Jonathan Wild : a highwayman or other 
criminal of distinction. From the 
name of a famous Eng. criminal who 
was hanged at Tyburn in 1725. 

Jonathan's] 206 

Jonathan's, At : Jonathan's coffee-house 
in Change Alley was the predecessor 
of the London Stock Exchange. 

Jonathan's arrows : not intended to 
harm but only to give warning. 
[I Samuel, xx, 36] 

Jorkins : see Spenlow and Jorkins. 

Joseph, A : (i) a moral young man who 
resists temptation ; from the story 
narrated of the patriarch Joseph in 
Gen. xxxix, 7, et seq. ; (2) a long riding 
cloak worn by women. After the 
coat that Joseph left in the hands of 
Potiphar's wife. 

Joseph Surface, A : a hypocrite. In 
allusion to a character in R. B. Sheri- 
dan's play. The School for Scandal 


Josh, To : to banter. After Josh 
Billings (1818-83), Amer. humourist. 
An Americanism. 

Joum6e des Anes : the defeat of the 
Papal Army near Bologna, in 1571, by 
the Bolognese and the French. Lit., 
Battle of the asses, from the great 
number of pack animals captured. 

Jouvence, The fountain of : the source of 
youth or rejuvenation. A play upon 
the town of Jouvence, Saone-et-Loire, 
France and Fr., jouvence, youth. 

Jove ! By : an asseveration. By 
Jupiter, a Rom. god. 

Jove's bird (hound) : the eagle : con- 
secrated to Jupiter (Jove). 

Jove's servant in ordinary : the eagle. 

Joyeuse science. The : minstrelsy. So- 
called by Sir Walter Scott in The 
Talisman (1825). 

Judas, A : (i) a traitor, from Judas 
Iscariot, who betrayed Jesus Christ ; 
(2) a lattice or other opening useful for 

Judas kiss, A : an apparently friendly 
action that betrays. From the kiss by 
which Judas betrayed Jesus. 

Judas sUts (holes) : peepholes in a prison 
door. See Judas. 

Judas tree, A : a tree of the northern 
Mediterranean basin, Cercis sili- 
quastrum, on which according to 
tradition Judas Iscariot hanged him- 
self ; also the elder. 

Judas-coloured hair : red hair. In 
allusion to the tradition that that was 
the colour of the hair of Judas Iscariot. 
The Eng. antipathy to red hair may, 
however, be due to hatred of the fair- 
haired Danes. 

Judicial murder : an unjust, though legal, 
sentence of death. 


Judicious bottle-holder. The : Lord 
Palmerston (1784-1865), who, in 1851, 
said to a deputation that waited on him 
to congratulate him on the success of 
his efforts to secure the liberation of 
Kossuth, that the crisis had required 
much generalship and a good deal of 
judicious bottle-holding. A bottle- 
holder is an attendant on a pugilist 
at a prize-fight. 

Judicious Hooker, The : Richard Hooker 
(1553-1600), Eng. divine. 

Juge de paiz, A (Fr., a justice of the 
peace) : a cudgel. 

Juggernaut, A : that which or he who 
crushes whatever lies in his path. 
From the name of a Hindoo god, 
Jagannatha, Lord of the World, whose 
great car is dragged along the roads on 
the occasion of his festival by his 
worshippers. The mistaken idea was 
formerly held that on these occasions 
many of the worshippers in a religious 
frenzy cast themselves under the 
wheels of the car. 

Juggins, A : a foolish fellow. From one 
of that name who squandered a fortune 
in betting about 1887. 

Julian year : the year according to the 
calendar instituted by Julius Caesar 
and in force until the introduction of 
that of Gregory XIII. 

Jumbo, A : an elephant. From the 
name of a very large elephant exhibited 
in London about 1883. 

Jump over the broomstick (two sticks). 
To : to marry in an unconventional 

Jump land (a claim). To : (Amer.) to 
take possession of . . by unlawful 

Jumping cat. Cult of the : opportunism ; 
decision in favour of the winning 

June : the sixth month of the year, the 
month of the Rom. family of Junius. 

June, The glorious first of : the victory 
of the British fleet under Lord Howe 
over the French on June ist, 1794. 

Junker, A {Germ., Jung Hen, young 
master) : an extreme reactionary in 
politics. In allusion to the Junker 
or extreme conservative party in 
Germany which consists mainly of the 
land-owning classes. 

Juno's (Junonian) bird : a peacock. 
Sacred to the goddess, Juno. 

Junto, Essex : see Essex. 

Jupiter Scapin : Napoleon I. So-called 
by the Abb6 de l4adt. Scapin was a 


valet in Molifere, Les Fourberies de 

Jupiter's bird : the eagle. 

Jupiter's fools : women. 

Jurisprudence, The Father of : see Father. 

Jus divinum : {Lat., divine right). 

Jus gentium {Lat., law of nations) : 
international law. [Hooper, Early 
Writings (1548)] 

Jusqu'auboutiste, A {Fr., jusqu au 
bout, to the end^ : a whole-hogger ; one 
who is determined to pursue his object 
to the very end. The word came into 
use in the course of the European War 
of 19 1 4-1 8, and was used to designate 
the advocates of the continuance of 
the war until the complete defeat of 

Juste milieu, Le {Fr., the proper mean) : 
phrase used by Louis Philippe to 
express his policy shortly after his 
accession to the throne of France. 
The phrase was not original, having 
previously been used by Pascal in his 
Pensies and by Voltaire in a letter to 
the Comte d'Argental. 

Justice, Poetic : see Poetic justice. 

Justinian, A : a renowned lawyer and 
jurist. In allusion to the Emperor 
Justinian (483-565), famous for his 
codification of the Laws of Rome. 

Justinian, The English : Edward I (1239- 
1307). So-called by Edward Jenks, in 
the title of a book (1902). 

Jnstitia,ruat coelum. Fiat {Lat., Let justice 
be done even though the heavens 
fall) : do justice heedless of the conse- 
quences. A passage in the judgment 
of Lord Mansfield (1705-93) in the 
case of John Wilkes (1768). Similar 
phrases appear in the writings of 
Martin Luther (1483-1546), the Emp. 
Ferdinajid I (1503-64), and Comeille 

Juteopolis : Dundee, the centre of the 
jute industry. 

Juvenal, The English : John Oldham 
(1653-83). After Juvenal (60-140), 
Rom. satirist and poet. 

Juvenal of Painters, The : William 
Hogarth (169 7- 1764). 

Juvenal, The Young : Thomas Lodge 
(1555-1625). So-called by Robert 

J'y suis, j'y reste {Fr., I am here, I 
remain here) : the reply of the Marshal 
MacMahon when warned after the, 
capture of the Malakoff (Sept. 9, 1855), 
that the evacuated fortress was 
probably mined. 



K's, The Three : the King, the Church 
and the Constitution. 

Eabbala : see Cabbala. 

Kail thro' the reek. To give a person the : 
(Scot.), to behave unpleasantly to a 
person ; to abuse him violently. Kale 
(cabbage) becomes bitter when smoked. 

Kailyard (School), The {Scot., cabbage- 
garden school) : the Scot, dialect 
school of fiction dealing with home life. 
The principal members were Sir J. M. 
Barrie, Ian MacLaren and S. R. 
Crockett. _ 

Kaiser Klas : a Germ, namt for 
Napoleon I. 

Kalends : see Greek Calends. 

Kangaroo Closure, The : a system of 
closure in the House of Commons under 
which the Speaker is authorized to 
select amendments for discussion. 

Kansas, Bleeding : see Bleeding. 

Karun, The riches of : in allusion to 
Karun, the uncle of Moses, according 
to the Koran. 

Katerfelto, A : a charlatan. In allusion 
to a quack doctor and pseudo-scientist 
of that name who practised in London 
about the year 1782. 

Kathay : see Cathay. 

Kedar's tents. In : in this world as 
opposed to the next. Kedar is 
Arabia Deserta. 

Keen as a hawk. As : eager ; mentally 
acute. [Peter Pindar, Ode upon Ode 


Keen as mustard. As : mentally energetic. 

Keep, To : (Camb. Univ.) to live. In 
general use in this sense in the i6th 
and 17th cents. [Pol. Poems, II, 65 

Keep one's powder dry. To : to be pre- 
pared for eventualities. A military 

Kemp ; Kempery man, A : a soldier ; 
a champion. 

Kendal green : cloth worn by foresters, 
made at Kendal. 

Kennedy, A : a poker. In allusion to a 
man who was killed with a poker. 

Kent, Men of : those who come from 
Kent east of the Medway. See Kentish. 

Kent Street ejectment, A : ejectment for 
non-payment of rent by means of the 
removal of the front door. Practised 
formerly by landlords in Kent Street, 

Kentish fire : concerted clapping of 
hands and stamping of feet, spaced like 
a sort of Morse Code and sounding like 
the discharge of musketry. In allusion 


to the reception given to ' No Popery ' 
orators in Kent in 1828-9. The term 
was coined by the Earl of Winchelsea 
at an ' Orange ' meeting held in 
Dublin in 1834. 

Kentish men : those who come from 
West Kent. See Men of Kent. 

Eetherick's pie. As big as : Ketherick 
was the first mayor of Plymouth 
( 1 493) . The pie made for his inaugural 
banquet is said to have been 14 ft. 

Kettle of fish, A pretty : see Fish. 

Key of Christendom, The : Buda in 
Hungary. In allusion to its position 
as a bulwark against the Turkish 

Key beneath the door. To leave the : to 
vacate a house without paying rent. 
[J no. Taylor. Discovery by Sea from 
London to Salisbury (1623)] 

Key of the Gulf, The : Cuba. On account 
of its position at the entrance to the 
Gulf of Mexico. 

Key of India, The : Herat in Afghanistan. 

Key of the Mediterranean, The : 
Gibraltar, which commands the 
entrance thereto. 

Key of Russia, The : Smolensk. 

Key of Spain, The : Ciudad Rodrigo. 

Key of the street. To get the : ironically, 
to be shut out. 

Key upon one's shoulder. To have the : 
to be in authority. In allusion to the 
period when keys which were instru- 
ments of considerable size, were carried 
by the steward over the shoulder. 

Keys of Knowledge, The : the time of the 
Day of Judgment, the time of rain, 
the sex of an animal before birth, the 
events of to-morrow, the place of one's 
death, all hidden from man ; according 
to the Koran. 

Keys into the pit, To throw the : to 
disclaim a debt, esp. that of a deceased 
husband. From an ancient Fr. custom 
in which, where the estate left was in- 
sufficient to pay the debts, the widow 
cast a key into the grave. 

Keys, The power of the : authority of 
the ministry in Christian churches 
orer laymen. From the promise of 
Christ to Peter to give him ' the keys 
of the Kingdom of Heaven., [Matthew, 
xvi, 9] 

Keystone State, The : Pennsylvania ; 
the central one of the 1 3 original states 
of the Union. 

Kibes, To gaU (tread) on one's : to annoy 
or irritate. A kibe is a chilblain. 

208 [Kidderminster 

Kibes of . . To tread (follow) on the : to 

follow closely on the heels of . . 
[Shakespeare, Hamlet, V, i, 153 

Kibosh on it. To put the : (colloq.) to 
dispose of permanently. 

Kick against. To : to rebel against. 
[Wycliffe, Deuteronomy, xxxii, 15] 

Kick against the pricks. To : to resent 
treatment to one's own harm or dis- 
comfort ; as a horse resents the prick 
of the spur. [Acts, ix, 5 and xxvi, 14 ; 
Pindar, 2 Pythian Victories, V, 173 ; 
iEschylus, Agamemnon , 1624 ; 

Euripedes, Bacchae, 791 ; Terence, 
Phormio, I, ii, 27 ; Ovid, Tristia, II, 
15 ; Jno. Heywood, Proverbes (1546)] 

Kick the beam. To : to be outweighed. 
The beam = the balance in a pair of 

Kick the bucket. To : (colloq.) to die. 
From a manner of committing suicide, 
viz., to kick away the supporting 
bucket after having adjusted a rope 
around one's neck, or from the bucket 
or beam by which dead pigs are 
suspended in the butcher-shop. 

Kick downstairs, To : to eject from the 

Kick one's heels. To : see Heels. 

E[ick up one's heels. To : to die. 
[Dekker, Honest Whore (1604)] 

Kick down the ladder. To : to make use 
of people to enable oneself to rise in 
the world and then to ignore them. 

Kick up a row. To : to create a disturb- 
ance. A suggestion that noise can be 
kicked up like dust. [Tobias Smollett, 
Letter to Wilkes (1759)] 

Kick over the traces, To : to get free from 
restraints ; as a horse getting its leg 
over the traces is able to kick more 

Kicked upstairs. To be : to be promoted 
from a responsible position to a 

Kicks than halfpence. More : more pain 
than pleasure. 

Kickshaws {Fr., quelque chose, some- 
thing) : trifles, generally elegant. Orig. 
a fancy dish in cookery. [Shakes- 
peare, 2 Henry IV, V, i (1597-8)] 

Kidd, Captain : a pirate. Capt. James 
Kidd (b. in Scotland; hanged 1701) 
was sent by the Amer. colonists to 
suppress piracy, but himself turned 

Kidderminster poetry : rough, inferior 
verse, like the woollen manufactures 
of Ktddenninster. Phrase coined by 


Wm. Shenstone. In allusion to a 
Mr. C. of Kidderminster. 

Kidney, Of the same : of the same nature 
or disposition. From the belief that 
the kidneys were the seat of the 
affections. [Shakespeare, Merry 

Wives of Windsor, III. v (1598-9)] 

Kilkenny cats. To fight like : to fight to 
the point of mutual destruction. The 
story is told of some Hessian troops 
employed to suppress the Irish 
Rebellion of 1798 who when stationed 
at Kilkenny, amused themselves by 
tying the tails of two cats together 
and hanging them over a line there to 
fight with one another. The sport was 
interrupted by an officer who ordered 
the cats to be released. This order 
was carried out by cutting the cats 
free of their tails, which were left 
hanging on the line. When the of&cer 
returned and enquired the fate of the 
cats, he was told that they had 
devoured one another. 

KiU a bee. To take a post to : see Take. 

Kill two birds with one stone. To : see 

Kill the goose that lays the golden eggs, 
To : see Goose. 

Kill by inches. To : to kill slowly. In 
allusion to the several medieval 
methods of torture, long drawn-out 
and ending in death. 

Kill one's mandarin. To : see Mandarin. 

Kill time. To : to waste time. [Van- 
brugh and Gibber, The Provoked 
Husband, I, i (1728)] 

Killogie, Smoked like a (Scot.) : the 
killogie is the covered place in front 
of the fireplace of a kiln. 

Kilmainham Treaty, The : the agreement 
between Wm. Ewart Gladstone and 
Charles Stewart Parnell in accordance 
with which the latter was released 
from Kilmainham gaol in May, 1882. 

Kilmarnock cowls : nightcaps. After 
those manufactured at Kilmarnock. 

Kindheart, A : a dentist. After the 
name of a member of that profession 
who flourished in the reign of Elizabeth. 

King at Arms : one of the three Eng. 
chief heralds. 

King of Bark, The : Christopher III of 
Scandinavia, who in time of famine 
had bark mixed with the bread. 

King of Bath, The : Richard Nash (Beau 
Nash) ( 1 674-1 762), who was for over 
half a century Master of the Cere- 
monies at Bath, then a fashionable 

209 [King 

King of the Bean, The : the Twelfth 
Night King. In allusion to the bean 
in the Twelfth Night cake which 
decided the office. 

King of beasts. The : the lion. 

King of the beggars. The : Bamfylde 
Moore Carew (1693-1770 c), also 
King of the gypsies. 

King of birds. The : the eagle. 

King Charles' Head : a monomania. 
After the topic which entered into every 
conversation of the slightly insane Mr. 
Dick in Dickens, David Copper/ield 

King Charles spaniel : a small species of 
dog, a favourite of King Charles I of 

King of the Cockneys, The : see Cockneys. 

King Cotton : cotton, the staple produc- 
tion of the southern of the United 
States and manufacture of Lancashire. 
Phrase first used by James H. 
Hammond in the U.S. Senate in 1858. 
Three years previously David Christy 
published Cotton is King; or, Slavery 
in the Light of Political Economy. 

E[ing of Dalkey : a burlesque king. 
Dalkey is a small island south of 
Dublin Bay. 

King is dead, long live the King, The : 
the formula that expresses the theory 
that a throne is never vacant. It was 
the ofl&cial formula for announcing a 
change in the occupancy of the Fr. 
throne from 1461 to 1824. See King 
never dies. The. 

King Demos : see Demos. 

King never dies. The : the theory that 
the throne is never vacant, that at the 
moment of the death of the occupant 
his successor becomes king. 

King of dulness. The : CoUey Gibber 
(1671-1757), poet laureate. 

Bang, The Factory : Richard Oastler 
(1789-1861), advocate of the Ten 
Hours Factory Law. 

King of the forest. The : the oak. 

King of fresh-water fish. The : the 
salmon. So-called by Izaak Walton. 

King of the jungle. The : the tiger. 

King of Kings, The : (i) God ; (2) 
Jesus ; (3) Agamemnon, in Grk. 
legend, the most powerful ruler of 
Greece; (4) Artaxerxes (465-425 
B.C.), King of Persia. 

King Log and King Stork : a king who 
is unable to exercise power and one 
who oppresses his subjects. From the 
fable of The Frogs Desiring a King. 
First Jupiter gave them a log and they 


were dissatisfied because it showed no 
strength or other kingly quality. Then 
he sent them a stork which ate them 
Kingmaker, The : Richard Neville, Earl 
of Warwick (1428-71). From his 
influence in securing the accession of 
Edward IV and the restoration of 
Henry VI. 
King of Men, The : Agamemnon, king 

of Mycenae ; also Jupiter. 
King of metals. The : gold. 
King Mob : the powerful crowd. 
King of Painters, The : Parrhasios 

(fl. 400 B.C.). 

King P6taad : a king whose subjects 

are his equals, after the name of the 

' king ' of a company of Fr. beggars. 

King P6taud, The Court of : the board of 

a company, or a committee, whose 

members take little notice of the 

rulings of the chairman. See King 


King of Preachers, The : Louis Bour- 

daloue (1632-1704), Fr. divine. 
King of Prussia, The : see Roi de Prusse. 
King, The Railway : George Hudson 
(1800-71), promoter of railways. So- 
called \>y Sydney Smith. 
King of Reptiles, The : Germain Etienne 
de la Ville, Count Lac6pede (1756- 
1825), author of Histoire Naturelle des 
King of Roads, The : John Loudon 
Macadam (i 756-1 836), inventor of an 
improved process of making roads. 
King, More royalist than the : see 

King of the sea, The : the herring. 
King of shadows. The : Oberon. the 

king of the fairies. 
King of shreds and patches, A : a 
literary hack writer. Orig., in the 
old mystery plays. Vice. 
King, The Snow : Gustavus Adolphus of 
Sweden, who, according to the 
Viennese, melted away, or lost his 
power, as he came south. 
King of Spain's trumpeter. The : a 
donkey. A pun on the Span, title 
E[ing Stork and King Log : see King 

Log and King Stork. 
King of Terrors, The : death. 
King over the water. The : (i) James II, 
after his deposition and escape to 
France ; (2) James Stuart, the Old 
Pretender ; (3) Charles Edward 
Stuart, the Young Pretender. 
King of waters. The : the river Amazon. 

210 [King's 

King of Wisdom, The : Omar Khayyim 
(nth and 12th cents.), Persian poet 
and astronomer, famous for his 
King, The Wise : Solomon, king of 
Israel. In allusion to the divine gift 
of wisdom conferred on him. 
King of the world. The : the Roman 

King of Yvetot, The : (i) the king or 
reign of a happy people, from a song 
by Pierre Jean de Bdranger (18 13), 
popular throughout France among the 
people who had tired of military glory 
and its cost and were longing for peace 
and contentment ; (2) a man of great 
pretensions but small merits. In 
allusion to the tiny kingdom of 
Yvetot, near Rouen, which flourished 
from the 6th until the 14th cent. 
Kings, The books (history) of four : a pack 

of cards. 
Kings of Brentford : see Brentford. 
King's candle. Gay as the : (of a showily 
dressed woman). From the French in 
allusion to the Eve or Vigil of the 
Kings, observed on the 6th of January 
by burning a candle of divers colours. 
King's Champion, The : the official who 
challenges all opponents at the Coro- 
nation Banquet. 
Ejngs (of Cologne), The Three : the three 
wise men of the East who visited the 
Infant Jesus. Reputed to have been 
buried at Cologne. 
Kings, Divine right of : see Divine. 
King's English, The : correct, pure 
English. [Shakespeare, Merry Wives 
of Windsor, I, iv (1598)] 
King's evidence, To turn : for a criminal 
to give evidence, under promise of 
pardon, against his accomplices. 
King's Evil, The : scrofula ; supposed to 

be curable by the touch of a king. 
King's Friends (Men), The : royalists ; 

partisans of the king. 
Kings, The game of : chess. 
King's Hanoverian White Horse, The : 
the 8th Regt. of Foot, now the Liver- 
pool Regt. In allusion to its services 
against the Old Pretender. Their 
badge was a white horse. 
King's highway. The : the public roads. 
Formerly only those highways which 
were under the protection of the 
King's Men, The : (i) the 78th Regt. of 
Foot ; after their motto, Cuidich'r 
Rhi, Help the King ; (2)- King's 
friends {q.v.). 

King's] i 

King's Own Men, The : the 78th Regt. 
of Foot, whose motto was (Gaelic) 
Cuidich'r Rhi, Help the King. 

King's Siulling, The : the coin formerly 
given to a recruit, as a ratification of 
his implied engagement to enlist in 
the British army. 

King's three cardinal errors, A : pity, 
placability and clemency. [Thucy- 
dides, History, III, 40, 2] 

Kingdom Come : (colloq.) the next 
world. From the phrase ' Thy king- 
dom come,' in The Lord's Prayer. 

Kingdom, The Most Christian : see 
Most Christian. 

Kings, The sport of : see Sport. 

ELingsley's Stand : the 20th Regt. of 
Foot, now the Lancashire Fusiliers. 
After the name of their colohel when 
they made their famous ' stand ' at 
Minden in 1759. 

Kingston Bridge : a bent card. So as 
to guide him who cuts the pack. 

Kingswood lions : donkeys. After the 
large number of them kept by the 
miners at Kingswood. 

Kirke's Lambs: the forces of Colonel Kirke, 
which were put in command of the 
West of England after the suppression 
of Monmouth's Rebellion and became 
notorious for their cruelties. The 
badge of the regiment was a Paschal 
lamb, in allusion to the purpose for 
which they were first recruited, vip:., 
to fight the infidel in Morocco. 

Kiss the hook. To : to give evidence in a 
court of law, after having taken the 
oath and kissed the Bible. [Early 
1 6th cent.] 

Kiss the counter. To : to be confined in 
the stocks. From ' counter,' formerly 
' compter,' the prison attached to a 
mayor's court. [Rowland, Night 
Raven (1620)] 

Kiss the cup. To : to drink. [Early 
15th cent]. 

Kiss the dust. To : to be defeated ; to be 

Kiss the ground. To : to cast oneself to 
the ground as an act of reverence ; to 
be humiliated. 

Kiss the gunner's daughter, To : (naval 
slang) to be laished to a gun prepara- 
tory to receiving punishment. 

Kiss hands. To : to be endowed with 
high government of&ce, by the 
sovereign whose hand is kissed on the 
occasion of the transfer of the seals of 

Kiss the hare's foot. To : see Hare's foot. 

I [Knickerbockers 

Kiss of peace, The : a kiss given as a sign 

of friendliness, esp. as a token of 

Christian love in the course of a 

religious service. 
Kiss the post. To : to be shut out. 

[Barclay, Eclogues (15 15)] 
Kiss the rod. To : to accept punishment 

submissively. [Sir Philip Sidney, 

Arcadia, II, 190 (1590)] 
Kissing comfits : scented sweets, to 

perfume the breath. 
Kit Callot : see Callot. 
Kit-cat Club, The : a political club. 

Formed in 1703 to uphold the 

principles of the Revolution of 1688. 

It met at a tavern kept by Christopher 

Cat (d. 1773). 
Kit-cat size : three-quarter length 

portraits on canvas, 29 in. by 36 in., 

adopted by Sir Godfrey Kneller in 

painting portraits of members of the 

Kit-cat Club [q.v.). 
Kit-cats : mutton pies. After a dish for 

which Christopher Cat's tavern was 

renowned. See Kit-cat Club. 
Kitchen Cabinet, The : the intimate 

political circle of Andrew Jackson 

during his term of ofiice as President of 

the U.S. (1829-33). 
Kitchen fee : dripping. Supposed to be 

the perquisite of the cook. 
Kitchen love : affection displayed in the 

expectation of favours, esp. food. 
Kittle Cargo, A : clergymen. A nautical 

Kittle cattle to shoe : a difficult person 

to manage. 
Knave of hearts, A : a flirt. 
Knave of Sologne, A : one who is more 

knave than fool. Sologne forms part 

of the Departments of Loiret and 

Knee to . . To bow (bend) the : to 

submit to . . 
Knee to . • To give the : to pay homage 

to . . [Bacon, Henry VII (1622)] 
Knee tribute : adoration or reverence 

displayed by bending the knee. 

[Milton, Paradise Lost, V, 782 

Knees of the gods. On the : in the future ; 

beyond human control. [Homer, 

Odyssey, I, 267] 
Knickerbocker (Sty, The: New York. 

From the dress of the early Dutch 

Knickerbockers : loose trousers ending 

at the knees, as worn in Holland, etc. 

After Died rich Knickerbocker, pseu- 

donpnous author of Washington 


Irving's History of New York, taken as 
the typical Dutchman. 

Knife of Academic Knots, The : 
Chrysippos (280-207 B.C.), the 
keenest disputant of his age. 

Knife at the throat of . . To hold a : to 
exercise compulsion towards . . 

Knife, War to the : relentless warfare. 
Palafox's answer to the French general 
at the siege of Saragossa. 

Elnifeboard, The : the double-seat on the 
top of an old horse-omnibus. 

Elnight, An ale : see Ale knight. 

Knight bachelor, A : orig. a knight who 
had forsworn marriage until he had 
performed some feat of outstanding 
valour ; a knight attached to no 

Knight Banneret, A : a knight created 
on the battlefield, to whom a streamer 
hastily torn from a banner was given 
as ensignia of investiture. 

Knight of the blade, A : a bully. In 
allusion to his frequent reference to 
his sword in the days in which it was 
fcishionable to wear that weapon. 

Knight of the brush, A : an artist. 

Knight of the burning pestle. The : a 
mock heroic play by Beaumont and 
Fletcher (1613). 

Knight, A carpet : a civilian knight ; 
one who has not earned the honour on 
the battlefield. [Michael de Montaigne, 
Works, Bk. I, chap, xxv ; Guillaume 
de Salluste du Bartas, Divine Weekes 
and Workes, 2nd week, 3rd day, Pt. I ; 
Geo. Whetstone, Remembrance of 
George Gascoigne, st. 9 (1577). ' Carpet 
knights are the men who are by the 
prince's grace and favour made 
knights at home . . They are called 
carpet knights because they receive 
their honours in the court and upon 
carpets.' Francis Maxkham, Booke of 
Honour (1626)] 

Knight of the carpet, A : a knight created 
on Shrove Tuesday, when the recipient 
of the honour knelt on a carpet before 
the king. See also Knight, A car- 

Knight of carpetry, A : see Knight, A 

Knight of the chamber, A : a knight 
created in time of peace in the 
audience chamber instead of the 

Knight of the cleaver, A : a butcher. 

Knight of the cloak. The : Sir Walter 
Raleigh. In allusion to the incident 
qI his cloak and Queen Elizabeth. 

2 [Knight 

Knight of the collar, A : one who has 

been hanged. [Youth in Dodsley, 

Old Plays (1554)] 
Knight of the cue, A : a billiard-player. 
Knight of the dice-box, A : a gambler. 
Knight of the elbow, A : a cheating 

Knight errant, A : a knight who 

wandered abroad in search of 

Knight of the field, A : a tramp. 
Knight of the forked order (order of the 

fork), A : a gardener ; a cuckold. 
Knight of the grammar, A : a school- 
Knight of the green cloth, A : a carpet 

knight iq.v.). ; a gambler. 
Knight of the handcuff, A : a policeman. 
Knight of industry, A (Fr., Chevalier 

d' Industrie) : a swindler. 
Knight of the knife, A : a pickpocket ; 

a cutpurse. [Ben Jonson, Bartholo- 
mew Fay re (161 4)] 
Knight or a knitter of caps. To be either 

a : to be as happy as a prince or as 

wretched as a mourner. [Lyly, 

Euphites and His England (1580)] 
Knight of La Mancha, The : Don 

Quixote de la Mancha. 
Knight of the needle, A : a tailor. 
Knight of the pen, A : a writer ; a clerk. 
Knight of the pencil, A : a betting man. 

In allusion to his frequent use of a 

Knight of the pestle, A : an apothecary. 
Knight of the post, A : a false witness, 

who when discovered was whipped at 

the post. [Nashe, Pierce Pennilesse 

Knight of the quill, A : a writer. 
Knight of the rainbow, A : a male 

domestic servant. In allusion to his 

gorgeous uniform. 
Knight of the road, A : a highwayman. 

A pun on the knights of Rhodes. 

[R. Head, English Rogue (1671)] 
Knight of the rueful countenance. The : 

Don Quixote. So-called by Sancho 

Knight of St. Crispin, A : a shoemaker. 

After St. Crispin, who was a cobbler. 
Knight (Clerk) of St. Nicholas, A : a thief. 

St. Nicholas was patron saint of 

thieves. FRowley, Match at Midnight 

Knight of the shears, A : a tailor. A 

pun on knight of the shire. 
Knight of the shire, A : a representative 

of a county or shire in Parliament. 

Orig. a knight. 


Knight of the spigot, A : a publican. 

Knight of the spur, A : a Knight 

Knight of the stick, A : a compositor. 
In allusion to the stick used by him 
in setting type. 

Knight of the tar-brush, A : a sailor. 

Knight of the thimble, A : a tailor. 

Knight of the Tliistle, A : a member of a 
Scot, order of knighthood, said to 
have been ins. in 809, revived in 1540. 

Knight of the vapour, A : a smoker. 

Knight of the wheel, A : a cyclist. 

Knight of the whip, A : a coachman. 

Knight of the yardstick, A : (Amer.) a 
draper's assistant. 

Knights, To dine with the cross-legged : 
see Dine. 

Knights of Labour : one of the principal 
Amer. Trade Unions, founded in 1869. 

Knight's service : good service ; service 
due from a knight under the Feudal 

Knipper-doling, A : a religious fanatic. 
From Bemhard KnipperdoUing 
(c. 1490-1536), Germ. Anabaptist 
leader and martyr. 

Knock out, To : to put a person hors de 
combat or unable to continue the 
contest. Prize-ring metaphor. 

Knock under. To : to submit ; admit 
oneself beaten. Properly, to knock 
under board, to fall under the table 
in a drinking bout. 

Knock the bottom out of . . To : to 
deprive an argument or case of its 

Knock into a cocked hat. To : to beat out 
of recognition. 

Knock on the head, To : to bring to 
naught. [W. Fulke, Heskin's Parlia- 
ment Repealed, 327 (1579)] 

Knock one's head against. To : to be 
stopped in one's course by inconvenient 
facts or conditions. [i6th cent.] 

Ejiock under. To : to submit. Possibly 
from to knuckle under {q.v.). 

Knockabout man, A : (i) (Austral.) a 
handy man, a labourer ready to turn 
his hand to anything ; (2) (theatrical) 
an actor who plays a noisy, boisterous 
part. ; 

Knockout, A : a conspiracy among \ 
frequenters of auction sales, not to \ 
bid against one another in public, but j 
to share among themselves the I 
difference between the sale price and ! 
the real value of the article. 1 

Knot, To cut the : see Gordian. 

Knot in a rush, To seek for a : to seek for ' 

213 [Kolturkampf 

difficulties gratuitously. [Terence 
Andria, V. iv. 38 (166 B.C.) ; Ayenbit'e 
of Inwyte (1340)] 

Knot, To tie the : to perform the 
ceremony of marriage. [Thos. May 
The Old Couple, V, 1. 167 (1655)] 

Knotty point, A : a matter involved in 
intellectual difficulties. [Pope, January 
and May, 140 (1702)] 

Know, In the : (colloq.) possessed of 
information not yet public property. 

Know a thing or two. To : to be wide- 
awake; to be fully acquainted with 
what is transpiring. 

Know the ropes. To : to be well ac- 
quainted with the conditions, circum- 
stances, etc. Nautical metaphor. 

Know which side one's bread is buttered. 
To : to recognise where one's interests 

Know-nothings : an Amer. political 
party founded in 1853. Its principal 
plank was the requirement of 2 1 years' 
residence as a qualification for natural- 
isation. See American Party. The 
programme of the party was for a time 
secret and the members denied all 
knowledge of it. Hence the name. 

Knuckle under. To : to submit. Knuckle 
formerly meant to kneel. To knuckle 
under consequently means to kneel 

Koepenick, A Captain of: an amusing 
rogue. After a swindler who, 
masquerading as a military ofi&cer, 
assured the municipal authorities of 
Koepenick (Germany) of his bona 
fides and was thus able to rifle the 
local treasury. 

Koh-i-Noor, A : something of very 
great value. After the name of a very 
valuable and large diamond included 
in the British Crown jewels. 

Kolis, The : the King's Own Light 
Infantry. From the initial letters. 

Koran of Belfast, The : Paine's ' Rights 
of Man,' according to Wolf Tone. 

B[riss EIringle {Germ., Christ Kindel, the 
Christ child) : a young Santa Claus. 

Kn Kluz Klan : an organisation formed 
in the Southern States after the 
conclusion of the Civil War for the 
intimidation of the coloured population. 

Kulturkampf, The : the struggle in 
Germany between the state and the 
Roman Catholic Church (1872-82). 
Lit., Culture-conflict. The phrase was 
popularized by Rudolph Virchow, the 
scientist and politician (1821-1902), 
who said that the contest was not 



merely a religious one, but involved 
man's entire intellectual and moral 
culture. It was coined by Ferdinand 
Lassalle (1825-64) in Demokratische 
Stiidien, II, 505. 

L's, The Three : (nautical) lead, latitude 
and look out. Term invented by 
W. Clark Russell. 

Laberius, A Second : after Decimus 
Laberius (c. 105-43 B.C.), Rom. satirist. 

Labour of love, A : work undertaken not 
for reward but for pleasure. 

Labours of Hercules, The : (i) wrestling 
with the Nemean lion ; (2) destruction 
of the Lernean hydra ; (3) capture of 
the Arcadian hind ; (4) capture of the 
boar of Erymanthus ; (5) cleansing of 
the Augean stables ; (6) shooting of 
the Stymphalian birds ; (7) capture of 
the Cretan bull ; (8) capture of the 
man-eating mares of the Thracian 
Diomedes ; (q) seizure of the girdle of 
Hippolyte ; (10) leading of the oxen 
of Geryones from Erythia ; (11) 
bringing of the golden apples from 
the garden of the Hesperides ; (12) 
carrying Cerberus from Hades to the 
Upper World. 

Labsrrinth, A : a maze ; a complicated, 
tortuous condition of affairs. After 
Labyris, an Egyptian king of the 12th 

Lacedeemonians, The : the Duke of Corn- 
wall's Light Infantry. Because while 
under heavy fire in 1777 they were 
addressed by their colonel on the 
virtues of Spartan discipline. 

Lack-Latin, A : an uneducated person ; 
one who lacks Latin. [Sir F. Bygod, 
Treatise Concerning Impropriations, 

VI (1534)] 
Lack-learning Parliament, The : see 

Laconic ; Laconian : concise ; sparing 

in words. From Grk., Lakon, a 

Lacedaemonian, proverbial for the 

affectation of brevity. 
Lad 0' wax, A : a shoemaker. 
Ladder behind one's back. To kick down 

the : to disown friends of whom one 

no longer has need. [Shakespeare, 

Julius Ccesar, II, i (1601)] 
Ladder, To climb up the : to advance 

socially or officially. 
Ladder after oneself. To draw up the : 

to make oneself impossible of approach 

by others. 
Ladder, To see through a : to discover 

the obvious. 


Ladies' man, A : a man who pays much 

attention to the female sex. 
Lady of Babylon, The : the Roman 

Catholic Church. In allusion to the 

scarlet woman of Revelations. 
Lady Bell : the bell used in ringing the 

Lady Bountiful, A : the generous and 

charitable lady of the village. After 

the name of a character in Farquhar, 

Beaux Stratagem (1707). 
Lady of the broom, A : a housemaid. 

[Peter Pindar, The Diamond Pin 

Lady chair, A : a seat of the 

crossed hands of two people facing one 

Lady Chapel, A : a chapel in a church 

dedicated to the Virgin Mary. 
Lady Day : the 25th of March, the day 

of the Annunciation of the Virgin Mary. 
Lady of easy virtue, A : a prostitute, 
Lady of the frying-pan, A : a cook. 
Lady Huntingdon persuasion. Of the : 

of the sect of Calvinistic Methodists 

founded by Selina, Lady Huntingdon, 

in 1779. 
Lady of Kingdoms, The : Babylon. 

[Isaiah, xlvii] 
Lady of the lake, A : a nymph ; a kept 

mistress. From Vivien, the mistress 

of Merlin. 
Lady Nicotine, My : see My. 
Lady of pleasure, A : a prostitute. 
Lady of Rome, The : the Roman Catholic 

Church. In allusion to the scarlet 

woman of Revelations. 
Lady-killer, A : a man possessing much 

influence over women. 
Laetare Sunday : the fourth Sunday in 

Lent. After the first word of the 

Introit of that day. 
Lafontaine, The Danish : Hans Christian 

Andersen (1805-75). After Jean de 

Lafontaine, a Fr. fabulist who lived 

from 1 62 1 to 1695. 
Lafontaine of the Vaudeville : Charles 

Francis Panard (1689-1765), Fr. poet 

and dramatist. 
Lais, A : a prostitute. After a famous 

one of that name in ancient Greece. 
Laissez faire {Fr., leave it alone) : the 

doctrine of non-interference by the 

State in economic matters. From the 

reply of a Fr. merchant to Jean 

Baptiste Colbert, the Fr. statesman 

(1619-83), when asked how he could 

assist trade. 
Lake Country, The : Cumberland, West- 
morland and North Lancashire. After 




the lakes with which that region 

Lake, The Great : the Atlantic Ocean. 
Term derived from the N. Amer.-Ind. 

Lakeland : the Lake Country (q.v.). 

Lake School, The : the group of Eng. 
poets — Wordsworth, Coleridge, 
Southey, etc. — who lived in or were 
connected with the Lake Country. 
So-called first by the Edinburgh 

Lake State, The : Michigan, situated on 
Lakes Michigan, Huron, Erie, Superior 
and St. Clair. 

Lakin, By'r : by Our Lady the Virgin 
Mary. Lakin is a contraction of 
Ladykin or little lady. 

Lamartinism : attribution of good 
motives. In allusion to the practice 
of Alphonse Lamartine (1790- 1869), 
Fr. historian. 

Lamb of God, The : Jesus Christ, typified 
by the Paschal Lamb. 

Lame dog over a stUe, To help a : to 
assist a person in a difficulty. [Marston, 
Insatiate Countess, II, ii (1605) ; Jno. 
Heywood, Proverbes (1546)] 

Lame duck, A : a member of the Stock 
Exchange who is unable to meet his 
engagements ; a person who for one 
reason or another is below the average 
of capacity or prosperity. 

Lame post. To come by the : to arrive 

Lame as St. Giles Cripplegate : St. Giles 
was the patron saint of cripples. The 
congregation of cripples in and around 
the Church of St. Giles, London, gave 
the neighbouring city gate' the name, 

Lammas Day (Eve) : August 12th, the 
Harvest Festival. From Ang.-Sax., 
hlaf maesse, loaf-feast, feast of first- 

Lammas lands : lands thrown open to 
pasture after the harvest (Lammas 

Lammas, At latter : never. Lammas 
(Aug. ist) was the day for the payment 
of accounts. Latter (last) Lammas 
never came. [Gascoigne, Steele Glass 

Lammermoor lion, A : a sheep. 

Lamourette kiss : a shortlived reconcili- 
ation. From the speech of the Abb6 
Adrien Lamourette in the French 
Legislative Assembly on the 7th of 
July, 1792, in consequence of which 
political opponents were reconciled — 
for three days. 

Lamp of Heaven, The : (i) the moon ; 
(2) the sun. 

Lamp of Phoebus, The : the sun. 
Phoebus was the mythical personifi- 
cation of the sun. 

Lamp, To smell of the : of a literary work, 
to show sings of most careful prepara- 
tion. First applied to the orations of 
Demosthenes, which were prepared 
with great care late into the night. 

Lancaster gun, A : after Charles William 
Lancaster (1820-78), the inventor. 

Land of Beulah, The : Paradise. 
According to The Pilgrim's Progress 
(1678). [Isaiah, Ixii, 4] 

Land of Bondage, The : Egypt. Accord- 
ing to Exodus. 

Land o' cakes. The : Scotland. From 
the widespread consumption of oat- 
meal cakes. So-called by Robert 

Land of Cockaigne, The : the land of 
sensual pleasures. After the title of a 
popular poem of the 13th cent., 
according to which the houses were 
made of barley sugar and cakes, the 
streets were paved with pastry, and 
the shops supplied goods without 

Land flowing with milk and honey, A : 
see Milk and honey. 

Land of the golden fleece. The : 
Australia, in allusion to the wealth of 
wool produced there. 

Land of inverted order. The : Australia. 

Land League, The : an Irish political 
association, formed in 1879, to secure 
the land for the people. 

Land o' the Leal, The (Scot.) : Heaven, 
the mythical land of happiness. 
Norm.-Fr., loyal. 

Land lies. To see how the : to ascertain 
the state of affairs. A nautical 

Land of the living. In the : alive. 
[Job, xxviii, 13] 

Land leaper (loper), A (Dutch, land- 
looper, one who runs up and down the 
land) : a vagabond. 

Land of the midnight sun. The : Norway, 
in the northern regions where daylight 
lasts throughout the summer night. 

Land of myrrh, The : Azab ; Saba. 

Land of Nod, Kie : sleep. A pun on the 
country mentioned in Gen., iv, 16. 

Land of the nymphs. The : Ireland. 

Land of Promise, The : (i) Palestine, 
promised to the IsraeUtes by God ; 
(2) any country that offers attractions 
to the immigrant. 

Land] 216 

Land of roasted pigs, The : China. After 
the essay of Charles Lamb in which he 
narrated the discovery by the Chinese 
of the art of roasting pork. 

Land of shadows. Gone to the : fallen 
asleep. Shadows = dreams. 

Land shark, A : a boarding-house keeper 
in seaport towns who preys on sea- 

Land of stars and stripes. The : the 
United States of America. After the 
design on the national flag. 

Land of steady habits. The : Connecticut. 
After the supposed moral character of 
its inhabitants. 

Land of the two-legged mare. The : the 
gallows. [Fulwell, Like Will to Like, 
1. 612 (1568)] 

Land's End, From Berwick to : see 

Landslide, A : an overwhelming move- 
ment of electors from one party to 
another in a general election. 

Langue d'Oc : Provencal, the language 
of Southern France, in which tongue 
' oc ' signifies ' yes.' 

Langue d'Oil : the Walloon language, in 
which ' oil ' signiiies ' yes.' 

Lantern, To bear the : to act as leader. 

Lantern face, A : a long thin face with 
hollow cheeks. 

Lantern jaws : lantern face {q..v.). 

Lantern Land : see Isle of Lanterns. 

Lantern of the night. The : the moon. 
[That Nature Hath Made Women for 
our Comfort, 11. 19-20 (1557)] 

Lanteme, La : the extremists of the 
French Revolution or followers of 
Robespierre. After La Lanteme de la 
Grfeve or street-lamp at the Place de la 
Grfeve where several summary exe- 
cutions of political opponents had 
taken place. 

Laodicean : lukewarm ; half-hearted. 
After Laodicea in Asia Minor. [Rev., 
iii, 14, et seq."] 

Laodicians, The sin of the : indifference 
in religion, politics, etc. See Laodicean. 

Lapsus Imguse, A {Lat., a slip of the 
tongue) : [Zeno, Diogenes Laertius, 
VII, i, 22, 26; Dryden, Martin 
Marr-all, III, i (1668)] 

Lapwing, As cunning as a : from the 
reputed practice of the lapwing of 
crying in other places in order to 
attract her enemies away from her nest. 
[Ray, Proverbs (1670)] 

Lares and Penates : the household gods ; 
one's cherished household possessions. 
The Lares familiares were the Roman 


gods of the household or family, the 
Penates those of the store-room. 

Large as life. As : full-sized. [Wilson. 
Art of Rhetoric 102 (1580)] 

Large, To set at : to set free. [Sir 
Thos. Overbury, Characters : A Meere 
Common Lawyer (161 6)] 

Lark, To rise with the : to rise from 
bed very early in the morning. [Lyly, 
Endimion, IV, i (1591)] 

La Rochefoucauld of England, The : 
Philip Dormer Stanhope, Earl of 
Chesterfield (1694-1773), orator, wit 
and author of the famous letters. So- 
called by Sainte-Beuve. Frangois, 
Due de La Rochefoucauld (1613-80) 
was a Fr. statesman and moralist. 

Larrikin, A {Austral.) : a young street 
rowdy. Introduced in the press about 
1870. Possibly from Larry, an Irish 
diminutive of Lawrence, or a corrup- 
tion of larking. 

Larry Durgan's eye-water : blacking. 
From the name of a Dublin shoe- 

Last argument of kings. The : force. The 
maxim was engraved by Richelieu 
(1585-1642) on the Fr. cannon. He 
derived it from Card. Francisco 
Ximenes (1436-1517). 

Last infirmity of a noble mind. The : 
(i) love of fame ; from Milton, Lycidas, 
11. 70-1 (1638) ; (2) ambition. [Ben 
Jonson, Catiline, III, ii (161 1)] 

Last of the Barons, The : Rich. Neville, 
Earl of Warwick {1428-71). From the 
title of a novel by Edward Bulwer, 
Lord Lytton (1843). 

Last of the Dandies, The : Count Alfred 
Guillaume Gabriel D'Orsay (1801-52). 

Last of the English, The : Hereward 
(fl. 1070), a rebel against the Norman 
conquerors of England. 

Last of the Fathers, The : St. Bernard of 
Clairvaux (1091-1153). In allusion to 
the Church Fathers. 

Last of the Goths, The : Roderick, King 
of the West Goths (d. 711). 

Last of the Greeks, The : Philopcemen 
(253-184 B.C.). So-called by Plutarch. 

Last of the Knights, The : Maximilian 
(1459-1519), Emp. of Germany. 

Last legs. On his : at the end of his 
defence or resources. [Philip Massinger 
and Thomas Middleton, The Old Law, 
V, i (1656)] 

Last Man, The : Charles I of England. 
So-called by the Puritans as an ex- 
pression of their hope that he would 
be the last king of England. 


Last minstrel of the English stage. The : 

James Shirley (1596-1666), English 

Last of the Mohicans, The : Uncas, a 
character in The Last of the Mohicans 
by James Fenimore Cooper (1826). 

Last of the Romans, The : (i) Cola di 
Rienzi ; see Last of the Tribunes ; 
(2) Caius Cassius Longinus (d. 42 B.C.), 
so-called by Brutus ; (3) ^Etius (c. 
400-454), so-called by Gibbon ; {4) 
Bonifacius (d. 432), so-called by 
Gibbon. The term was also applied to 
Fran<;ois Joseph Terasse Desbillons 
(1751-89), on account of his elegant 
Latin style, by Pope, to the dramatist, 
Wm. Congreve (1670-1729), to Charles 
James Fox (i 749-1 806), Eng. states- 
man, and to Horace Walpole (1717-97), 
Eng. man of letters. 

Last, Stick to one's : see Stick. 

Last straw, The : see Straw. 

Last of the Stuarts, The : Henry, Cardinal 
of York (1725-1807). The last legiti- 
mate male descendant of James I of 

Last things. The four : (Theol.) death, 
judgment, heaven, hell. 

la&i of the Tribunes, The : Cola di 
Rienzi (1313-54), the hero of the Rom. 
rebellion of 1347. 

Last of the Troubadours, The : Jacques, 
Jasmin, Provengal poet (1798-1864). 

Last word. To have the : to make the last 
retort in an altercation. [Lilly, 
Enditnion, II, ii (1591)] 

Last-ditcher, A : an irreconcileable ; one 
who resists to the last. One who dies 
in the defence of the last ditch of an 
entrenchment. [Gilbert Burnet, 
History of His Own Time, I, 457 (1715)] 

Lathe painted to look like iron, A : 
Robert Cecil, 3rd Marquis of Salisbury 
(1830-1903), British statesman. So- 
called by Prince Bismarck, in connec- 
tion with the Berlin Congress of 1878. 

Latin Church, The : the Roman Catholic 
Church as distinct from the Eastern or 
Grk. Church. 

Latin Cross : see Cross, Latin. 

Latin, Dog : uncouth, although 
grammatically accurate, Latin. 

Latin, Low : see Low Latin. 

Latin Union, The : a monetary agree- 
ment between France, Belgium, Italy, 
Greece and Switzerland. Belgium 
subsequently withdrew. 

Latona's son : the god, Apollo. 

Latter day saints : the Mormons. So- 
called by themselves. 



Latter Lammas, At the : see Lammas. 

Laudator temporis acti (Lai., a praiser 
of past events) : one who idealizes the 
past. [Horace, Ars Poetica, 173] 

Laugh and grow fat : an allusion to the 
Laughing Philosopher (q.v.), who was 
famous for his size as well as his 
laughter and his length of days. 

Laugh in one's sleeve. To : to laugh to 
oneself. From the period when sleeves 
were worn very wide and it was easy to 
conceal the face with one. [Jno. 
Hey wood, Proverbes (1546)] 

Laugh on the wrong side of one's face. 
To : to cry ; to be grieved. [Scott 
Rob Roy. ch. 37 (1818)] 

Laughing matter. No : not a matter for 
laughter. [Foxe, Acts and Monu- 
ments, II (1563)] 

Laughing Philosopher, The : Democritus 
of Abdera (c. 460-357 B.C.). Because 
he laughed at the follies of mankind. 

Laureate, Poet : the official poet of the 
country on whom is conferred a small 
court appointment. Orig. a degree in 
poetry conferred by the Universities. 
From laurus, the leaf of the bay, 
sacred to Apollo, with which poets and 
other men of letters were formerly 

Laurels, To gain (win) : to earn honour. 
From the laurel with which in classic 
times those on whom honour was 
conferred were crowned. 

Laurels, To look to one's : to take 
precautions lest one's position of 
eminence be endangered. See Laurels, 
To gain. 

Laurence bids wages : idleness is attrac- 
tive. See Laurence, A lazy. 

Laurence, A lazy : an indolent person. 
Probably alliterative ; possibly an 
allusion to the hot season during which 
St. Laurence's Day (Aug. loth) falls. 
From the Germ., Der faule Lenz, 
current in the i6th cent. There is also 
a tradition that the phrase is derived 
from a sneer by the executioner of St. 
Laurence, who attributed the latter's 
steadfastness under torture to his 
laziness. [The Infamous History of 
Sir Lawrence Lazie (1670)]. See also 
Lazy as David Laurence's dog. As. 

Lavender, In : put away carefully, like 
domestic linen laid aside in lavender. 
[Earle, Microcosmography : A Young 
Raw Preacher (1628)] 

Lavender, To lay in : to pawn ; because 
goods pledged with a pawnbroker used 
to be kept in lavender. [Florio, 

Law] 2it 

lVorld0 of IVordts (1593) ; Greene, 
Quip for an Upstart Courtier (1592)] 

Law, The : the Pentateuch, the Law of 

Law of • . To have (take) the : to take 
proceedings against in a court of law. 
[Tke Spectator, No. 122 (1711)] 

Law of arms. The : (i) the convention 
observed by professional soldiers ; 
(2) a thrashing. 

Law to • • To give the : to force one's 
will upon . . 

Law into one's own hands, To take the : 
to fill the combined roles of com- 
plainant, judge and inflicter of punish- 

Law, To lay down the : to adopt a 
dictatorial manner in argument. 

Law, The letter of the : see Letter. 

Law onto oneself, To be a : to follow 
one's own inclinations without refer- 
ence to the law or other regulations. 
[Geo. Chapman, Bussy d'Ambois, II, i 

Law, The Unwritten : see Unwritten. 

Laws of the Medes and Persians, The : 
that which is not subject to modifi- 
cation or alteration. [Daniel, vi, 12] 

Laws of Nature, The : the bases of 
natural order. 

Lawless Parliament, The : see Unlearned 

Lawrence : see also Laurence. 

Lawrence on one's back. To have ; 
Lawrence, To have a toach of Old : to 
be unemployed. 5ee Laurence, A lazy. 

Lawyer's treat, A : refreshment in 
company at one's own expense. 

Lay hands on. To : to seize ; to appre- 
hend. [Shakespeare, The Taming of 
the Shrew, V, i (1596)] 

Lay heads together. To : to consult. 
[Congreve, The Double-dealer, V, xx 

Lay by the heels. To : to deprive of power 
for action. An allusion to the punish- 
ment of the stocks. 

Lay to a person's charge. To : to accuse 
a person of . . [Deuteronomy, xxi, 8] 

Lay on the table. To : see Table. 

Lazaroni : see Lazzaroni. 

Lazarus and Dives : the poor and the 
rich. From the parable in Luke, xvi, 
19 el seq. Lat., Dives, rich man. 

Lazy as David Laurence's dog. As : from 
Laurence, the Scot, folk patron of the 
lazy. See Laurence, A lazy. 

Lazy as Ludlam's dog. As : Ludlam, the 
sorceress of Famham, had a dog which 
was too lazy to bark. 


Lazy man's load, A : a load too great to 
carry at one journey, but under which 
the bearer struggles in order to avoid 
a second journey. 

Lazzaroni : the beggars and street popu- 
lation of Naples. From the Hospital 
of St. Lazarus, the workhouse of that 

Lead apes in Hell, To : the supposed fate 
of old maids, esp. those who were 
coquettes while alive. Ape was some- 
times a synonym for fool. [Shakes- 
peare, Much Ado About Nothivg, II, 
i (1599- 1 600)]. See also Apes in 

Lead a person a chase. To : to cause 
trouble by not following a clear line. 

Lead a person a dance. To : to cause a 
person much trouble. [Heywood, 
Woma-.i Killed (1607)] 

Lead a person a life. To : to aimoy and 
torment a person. 

Lead by the nose. To : to cause to carry 
out one's wishes submissively. From 
an ancient Grk. proverb, in allusion 
apparently, to the leading and guiding 
of oxen by means of rings inserted in 
their noses. [Shakespeare, Othello, I. 
iii, 407 (?i6o4)] 

Lead by the sleeve. To : to lead by the 
nose {q.v.). 

Leaden sword (dagger). To fight with a : 
to undertake a task impossible of fulfil- 
ment. [Fulke, Heskin's Parliament 

Leading question, A : a question (esp. in 
law) that suggests the answer that is 

Leadhig strings. To be in : to be under 
close direction, like a child. Leading- 
strings are the strings by which 
children are taught to walk. 

Leaf out of a person's book. To take a : 
to follow another person's example. 
Perhaps an allusion to literary 

Leaf, To turn over a new : to enter on a 
new line of conduct. A metaphor 
derived from book-reading. [Hey- 
wood, Proverbes (1546)] 

League, The : formed in 1576 by the 
Guises to uphold Catholicism in France 
and incidentally to prevent the 
accession to the throne of Henry of 

League with . • To be in : to be in close 
co-operation with . . [Cooper, 
Thesaurus (1565)] 

Lean as a rake. As : very thin. [Chaucer, 
Canterbury Tales, I, 289 (14th cent.)] 


Leap in the dark, A : the description by 
the dissentient conservatives of the 
Conservative Reform Bill of 1867. 
First used in this connection by the 
Marquis of Salisbury, then Lord Cran- 
boume. Any decision which, carrying 
with it great uncertainty, is of the 
nature of a gamble. Also used by 
Thomas Hobbes (1588-1679), the Eng. 
philosopher, and subsequently by 
others in reference to death. 

Leaps and bounds. By : with great 

Learned Blacksmith, The : Elihu Burritt 
{1810-79), Amer. philanthropist and 

Learned fool in Christondom, The most : 
James I of England. Description 
applied to him by the Duke of Sully 

Learned Painter, The : Charles Lebmn 
(1619-90). From the accuracy of his 

Learned Tailor, The : Henry Wild of 
Norwich (1684- 173 4), who knew 
Greek, Latin, Hebrew, Persian, Arabic, 
Syriac and Chaldaic. 

Learned Theban, A : one who is expert at 
solving riddles. From CEdipus, King 
of Thebes, who solved the riddle of 
the Sphinx. 

Learning, The New : Greek and other 
subjects of study revived in England 
during the i6th cent. 

Leather and prunella : anything that 
arouses no interest in one. Prunella is 
the material used for the uppers of 
women's boots. 

' Worth makes the man, and want of 
it the fellow ; 
The rest is all but leather and 
[Pope, Essay on Man, IV. 204 
(1732-4)] Leather represents the 
cobbler ; prunella (from which clerical 
gowns are made) the parson. 

Leather-hunting : fielding, in cricket. In 
allusion to the leather of which the 
cricket-ball is made. 

Leathering to . . To give a : to thrash. 
In allusion to the leather lash. 

Leave, French : see French. 

Leaves without figs : promise without 
fulfilment. In allusion to the barren 
fig-tree mentioned in Luke, xiii. 

Led captain, A : a parasite. [Wycherley, 
Love in a Wood, I, i (1694)] 

Leeds, The Austrian : Brunn in Moravia, 
formerly in the Austrian Empire. In 
allusion to its woollen manufactures. 

219 [Legs 

Leek, To eat the : to accept humiliation 
submissively. From a passage in 
Shakespeare, Henry V, V, i, 10 

Left, The : the democratic or advanced 
party in a legislature. In allusion to 
the seats occupied by them on the 
left of the chairman. 

Left eye. To see with the : to see im- 

Left (shoulder). Over the : a suggestion 
that the statement is untrue ; not to 
be taken seriously. [Records 0/ Hart- 
ford Coiiniy Court (1705)] 

Left hand of friendship. To give the : to 
treat in an unfriendly manner. 

Left hand. To work with the : to work 

Left shoulder. To go over the : to be 

Left-handed compliment, A : a doubtful 
or ambiguous compliment. 

Left-handed marriage, A : a morganatic 
marriage, in which the husband is said 
to give his left hand to his bride in 
the course of the marriage ceremony. 

Left-handed oath, A : an oath when 
taken not intended to be kept. 

Leg, To have a bone in one's : see Bone. 

Leg, The boot is on the other : see Boot. 

Leg up. To give a person a : to help a 
person over a difficulty, (metaph.) over 
a stile or other physical obstruction. 

Leg, To make a : to make a bow. [Rare 
Triumphs of Love and Fortune, III, 

1. 77 (1589)] 
Leg of mutton school. The : poetasters 

and parasites who write servile poetry 

for their living instead of their art or 

other mission. So-called by J. G. 

Lockhart (i 794-1 854) in a review of 

Fleurs : A Poem in Four Books. 
Leg, To pull one's : to deceive, impose 

upon, a person. 
Leg foremost. To put one's best : to throw 

oneself thoroughly into an affair ; to 

make every effort to attain the goal. 

[Dckker and Webster, Northward Ho, 

IV, ii (1607)] 
Leg to stand on. Not a : with no support 

(generally metaph.) whatever. [De 

Quincey, On Murder Considered as a 

Fine Art (1827)] 
Legs, To get upon one's : to get into a 

temper. Metaphor drawn from the 

rearing of horses. 
Legs, One's last : see Last legs. 
Legs, To set upon his : to establish in 

business ; to place a man in a position 

to support himself. 


Legs, To stand upon one's own : to be 

self-supporting, self-reliant. 

Legs, To take to one's : to run away. 

Leg-up, To give a person a : to render a 
person assistance. 

Legerdemain {Fr., light of hand) : sleight 
of hand. [W. Roy and Jeremy 
Barlowe, Rede Me, etc. (1528)] 

Legion of Honour ; Legion d'Honneur : 
the Fr. Order of Merit, founded by 
Napoleon I in 1802. 

Legislator of Parnassus, The : Nicholas 
Boileau (1636-1711), a famous Fr. 
critic and poet. So-called by Voltaire, 
on account of his Art of Poetry. After 
Parnassus, a mountain ridge in Greece 
which was in mythology the seat of 
music and poetry. 

Leipsic, To be one's : to be the occasion 
of one's disaster or ruin. After the 
Battle of Leipsic (18 13) in which 
Napoleon was severely defeated. 

Lemnian deed, A : a deed of unusual 
barbarity. From two ferocious 
massacres said to have been perpe- 
trated in classical times by the 
inhabitants of Lemnos. 

Lemnian Smith, The : Vulcan. From 
the legend that when flung out of 
heaven he fell on the Island of Lemnos. 

Length of a person's foot. To know the : 
to understand his meaning or inten- 
tions fully. [Bunyan, The Holy War 

Lenson Hill to Pilsen Pin, As much akin 
as : not at all related. Lenson Hill 
and Pilsen Pin are two independent 
heights in Dorsetshire, which, viewed 
from the sea, appear as one. 

Lent, A : a period of abstinence or 
depression. From the ecclesiastical 
period of fasting and penitence which 
precedes Easter. 

Lent, Clean : the ecclesiastical Lent or 
period of forty weekdays of abstention 
and penitence which precedes Easter. 

Lenten lover, A : one easy to feed. 

Leo Hunter, Mrs. : see Hunter. 

Leonidas of modern Greece, The : Marco 
Bozzaris, who defeated a Turkish- 
Albanian army three and a half times 
as large as his own at Kerpenisi in 1823. 
After Leonidas, the Spartan hero, who 
with 300 followers withstood the 
immense Persian army at Thermopylae 
in 480 B.C. 

Leonine contract, A {Span., Contrato 
Leonino) : a contract which is unjustly 
one-sided. In allusion to the fable of 
The Lion and His Fellow-hunters. 

220 [Letter 

Leonine verses (elegiacs) : verses whose 
ends rhyme with their middles. After 
Leo or Leoninus, a Canon of Paris in 
the 12th cent., who popularized 

Lema of ills, A : a very great evil. In 
allusion to Lake Lema where Hercules 
destroyed the Hydra. 

Lesbian : pliant, easily influenced. After 
the Lesbian rule, a mason's rule, which 
can be bent to fit into curves, 
mouldings, etc. 

Lesbian Citizen, The: Alcaeus (611-580 
B.C.), of Mytilene in Lesbos. By 
some authorities considered the first 
of the lyric poets of Greece. 

Lesbian kiss, A : .an immodest kiss. In 
allusion to the licentiousness for which 
the ancient Lesbians were notorious. 

Lesbian rule. The : making a rule con- 
form to the thing ruled, instead of 
making the thing ruled conform to the 
rule. See also Lesbian. 

hhse Majesty (Lat., laesa majestas, 
offended majesty) : an offence against 
the dignity of the sovereign. 

Lessian diet : strict temperance, as 
advocated by Leonhard Lessius (1554- 
1623), Dutch Jesuit. 

L'Etat, c'est moi {Fr., I am the state) : 
a remark falsely attributed to Louis 
XIV at a meeting of the parliament in 
1655 when he was 17 years of age. It 
was, in fact, a crystallization of his 
policy as developed later in his 

Let down. To : to fail to fulfil one's 
engagements to . . 

Let in. To be : to be deceived, trapped. 
[Wm. Haughton, Englishmen for My 
Money, II, ii (1597)] 

Lethe : oblivion. After Lethe, one of 
the rivers of hell (Grk. mythology), a 
draught of which caused oblivion of 
the past. 

Letter, A dead : see Dead letter. 

Letter of the law. The : the law as 
literally interpreted. 

Letter of Marque, A : a commission 
authorizing a private individual to 
seize enemy property on the seas, i.e., 
to fit out privateers. Abolished by the 
Treaty of Paris in 1856. Marque is 
derived from the marches or border 
lands whose lords were authorized to 
exact reprisals on the population over 
the border. 

Letter and the spirit. The : the nominal 
and the real. From the letter and 
the spirit of the law. 

Letter 2 

Letter of Uriah, A : a letter pretending 
friendship but in reality engineering 
betrayal. [II Samuel, xi, 14] 

Letters, St. Agatha's : letters written on 
St. Agatha's Day (Feb. 5th) as a 
means of protection against fire. 

Lettre de Cachet, A. (Fr.) : an order 
committing to prison without trial, 
signed with the seal (cachet) of the 
French king. Abolished in 1790. 

Lettre de Jerusalem, A : a blackmailing 

Levant, The (H-, Levante, the eastern 
region) : the countries bordering on 
the Eastern Mediterranean. 

Level best. To do one's : to do one's 

Levellers, Irish : agrarian offenders in 
the latter half of the i8th cent, who 
levelled the fences by which common 
land was enclosed. 

Lever de rideau, A {Fr., raising of the 
curtain) : a short introductory play. 

Leviathan of Literature, The : Dr. Samuel 
Johnson (1709-84). 

Levitical Degrees : the degrees of 
relationship between which marriage 
is forbidden. From the Book of 
I,«t;iiicMs in which the laws arelaid down. 

Lex non scripta {Lat., the unwritten law) : 
the common law as distinguished from 
the statute or written law. 

Lex talionis {Lat.) : the law of retaliation, 
based on the biblical law of an eye for 
an eye, a tooth for a tooth, etc. 

Leyden jar, A : a jar so made as to be 
charged with electricity. Invented at 
Leyden, Holland. 

Leze Majeste (Majesty) : see L^se 

Libel from a lupine, Not to know a : to 
be entirely ignorant. Among the 
Romans a libel was a small silver coin, 
a lupine, a counter. 

Liberal Arts, The : education suitable 
for a gentleman. Orig. those arts 
considered worthy of a free man. 

Liberal education, A : an education in 
the Liberal Arts {q.v.). 

Liberal Party, The : a British political 
party in favour of progress and 
democracy ; the successor of the Whig 
party. From the title of Lord Byron's 
periodical. The Liberal (1828). 

Liberal Republicans, The : a political 
party, formed in the U.S. in 1872, to 
prevent Pres. U. S. Grant from 
securing election for a second term. 

Liberal Sciences, The : sciences worthy 
of a free man. See Liberal Arts. 

' [Uok 

Liberal Science, The Eighth : warfare. 

Liberal Unionist Party, The : a British 
political party formed of a secession 
from the Liberal party in 1886 in 
opposition to Home Rule for Ireland. 

Liberation, The War of : the war waged 
against Napoleon in 1 813-14 which 
resulted in the liberation of the Germ, 
states from French rule. 

Liberator, The : Daniel O'Connell (1775- 
1847), the advocate of Catholic Eman- 
cipation and other Irish liberties. See 
also Libertador, El. 

Liberator of the New World, The : 
Benjamin Franklin (1706-90). 

Libertador, El : the Liberator Simon 
Bolivar (i 783-1 830), who led the revolt 
of the Amer. colonies from Spain. 

Libertine, A chartered : see Chartered. 

Liberty, The Apostle of: Henry Clay 
( 1 777-1852), Amer. statesman and 
orator, who supported the South Amer. 
states in their revolt from Spain. 

Liberty, Cap of: see Cap. 

Liberty, Equality, Fraternity : the watch- 
words of the French Revolution. 

Liberty Hall : a place where one may do 
as one likes. [Oliver Goldsmith, She 
Stoops to Conquer, II (1773)] 

Liberty man, A : a sailor who absents 
himself on leave from his ship. 

Liberty Party, The : an Amer. political 
party founded in 1839 in opposition to 

Liberum Veto, The : a provision in the 
old Polish Diet under which no law 
could be enacted in the absence of 
unanimity on the part of members of 
the Diet. 

Libro d'Oro, A {It., book of gold) : any list 
of titles of honour, etc. Orig. a 
register of noble families in Venice and 
other It. republics. 

Licinian Laws : laws adopted in Rome 
about 370 B.C. in the interests of the 
Plebeians as against those of the 
Patricians. After C. Licinius Calvus 
(Stolo), the tribune of the people. 

Lick a person. To : to thrash a person. 
Perhaps from the phrase ' an unUcked 
cub,' or from Welsh, llach, a slap. 

Lick the dust. To : to fall in battle. 
[Psalm, Ixxii, 9] 

Lidk a person's feet. To : to be obsequious. 
[Anth. Brewer, Lingua (1607)] 

Lick into shape. To : to put into order ; 
to make presentable. In allusion to 
the long persistent superstition sup- 
ported by Pliny and Aristotle, among 
others, that a bear's cub is bom an 

Lick] :: 

amorphous mass and is licked into 

shape by its mother. [Burton, 

Anatomy of Melancholy, To the 

Reader (1621)] 
Lick-spittle, A : a toady. [Davenant, 

Alhovine (1629)] 
Lick-trencher, A : a parasite. [Withal, 

Dictionarie (1608)] 
Lie like a bulletin. To : in reference to 

military bulletins in general, and esp. 

to those of Napoleon during his 

Russian campaign. 
Lie circumstantial. The : ' the lie with 

circumstance.' [Shakespeare, As You 

Like It, V, iv (1600)] 
Lie direct. The : [Shakespeare, As You 

Like It, V, iv (1600)] 
Lie with one's fathers. To : to die ; to be 

buried. {Geyxesis, xlvii, 30] 
Lie, To give a person the : to accuse a 

person of untruthfulness. [Dekker, 
• The Seuen Deadly Shines : Lying 

Lie in the lap of . • To : to be destined 

for, but not defined in advance ; like 

an unborn child. 
Lie low. To : to conceal oneself or one's 

intentions. [J. C. Harris, Uncle 

Remus (1880)] 
Lie quarrelsome, The : [Shakespeare, 

As You Like It, V, iv (1600)] 
Lie for the whetstone. To : to exaggerate 

or deceive grossly. At Whitsun amuse- 
ments in olden times a whetstone ' to 

sharpen his wit ' used to be given as a 

reward to the victor in a lying- 
Lie, A white : a falsehood that does no 

harm and is considered morally 

Life, To the : perfectly counterfeited. 

[Lilly, Campaspe, I, ii (1584)] 
Life dear. To sell one's : to defend oneself 

with the utmost energy. 
Life in one's hand. To carry one's : to 

pursue an undertaking fraught with 

danger to one's life. 
Life and soul of . . The : the centre of 

good spirits of . . ; the centre of life. 

[Fes. Coventry, History 0/ Pompey the 

Little, ch. 16 (1751)] 
Lift, To : to steal. [Ben Jonson, The 

Devilis an Ass (1616) ; Robert Greene, 

James the Fourth, III, i (1594)] 
Lift, To have a person at a : to have a 

person in one's power. A wrestling 

Light of the Age, The : Maimonides 

(i 135-1204), Hispano-Jewish philoso- 

2 Limb 

Light under a bushel. To hide one's : to 

be modest ; not to trumpet forth one's 
qualifications. [Matthew, v, 15] 

Light of one's eyes, The : a beloved one. 
[loth cent.] 

Light as a feather. As : (i) of very light 
weight; [Cicero, Ad Atticum, VIII, 
XV, 2 ; Hejrwood, Proverbes (1546)] 
(2) very easily ; (3) worthless. [The 
Man in the Moon, 5 (1609)] 

Light as gossamer. As : very light and 
flimsy. Gossamer has been used in 
this sense since the 14th cent. 

Light as a kez (kyz). As : very light. A 
kex is a dry, hollow stalk. [Heywood, 
Proverbes (1546)] 

Light o' love, A : a flirt, a woman of 
accommodating morals. From the 
title of an old tune. [Nashe, 
Anatomie of Absurditie {1589)] 

Light of . . To make : not to treat 
seriously. [Bacon, Rulers of Good and 
Evill, § 8 (1597)] 

Light, To stand in one's own : see Stand. 

Light upon . . To throw : to give in- 
formation regarding . . 

Light as the wind. As: [Interlude of Youth ; 
Lyly, Gallathea, I, iv (1592)] 

Light of the World, The : Jesus Christ. 
From the title of a painting by Wm. 
Holm an Hunt. [Matthew, v, 14] 

Lights, Before the : see Before. 

Light-fingered : dishonest. Properly, 
having light or nimble fingers. [Nice 
Wanton (1560)] 

Light-fingered gentry, The : pickpockets. 
See Light-fingered. 

Lightning strike, A : a strike of workmen 
declared at a moment's notice, and 
therefore as sudden as a stroke of 

Ligurian Arts, The : deception ; trickery. 

Like as two peas. As : exactly alike. 
[Lyly, Euphues : Anatomy of Wit, 
Epistle Dedicatory (1579) ; Thos. 
Flatman, Heraclitus Ridens (1681)] 

Lilbume, John would quarrel with : in 
allusion to John Lilbume (1618-57), a 
cantankerous schismatic of the period 
of the Commonwealth. 

Lilliputian : of diminutive size. After 
Lilliput, the land of tiny men, described 
in Swift, Gidliver's Travels (1726). 

Lily, To paint the : see Paint the lily. To. 

Lily-livered : timorous. The liver was 
formerly considered the centre of 
passion and physical courage. 

Limb of the law, A : a legal functionary. 
[Tobias Smollett, Sir L. Greaves, I ii 


Limb of Satan, A : an imp of Satan. 
Limb from Warburton, To tear : a play 
on the place named Lymm-cum- 
Limbo, In : in prison ; in confinement. 
From limbus, in scholastic theology, a 
place bordering on hell. [Lyndsay, 
Ihe Dreme, I, 14 (i553)] 
Limbus Fatuorum : a fool's paradise. 
[Milton, Paradise Lost, III, 495 (1667] 
See Limbo, In. 
Limbus Infantum : the place where the 
souls of unbaptised infants go after 
death. See Limbo, In. 
Limbus of the moon : the borders of Hell, 
according to Ariosto {Orlando Fiirioso, 
xxxiv, 70), situated in the moon. See 
Limbo, In. 
Limbus Patrum : the place where the 
souls of good men who lived before 
Christ go after death. See Limbo, In. 
Limbus Puerorum : the place where the 
souls of unbaptized children remained. 
See Limbo, In and Limbus Infantum. 
Limehouse : unrestrained abuse of one's 
political opponents, similar to that 
employed by Mr. David Lloyd George 
in a speech at Limehouse, London, on 
the 30th of July, 1909. 
Lime-juicer : (Amer.) a British sailor or 
ship. In allusion to the consumption 
of lime juice on board British 
Limerick, A : a more or less nonsense 
verse of a certain character, in the 
metre popularized by Edward Lear in 
his Book of Nonsense (1846), said to 
have been derived from a refrain sung 
at gatherings at which the pastime of 
making limericks was followed. 
Lime-twigs for . . To set : to lay a snare 
for . . In allusion to the twigs 
smeared with bird lime used for 
catching birds. [Joshua Cook, How a 
Man May Choose a Good Wife from a 
Bad, IV, ii, (1602)] 
Linceus' sight. As sharp as : in reference 
to Lynceus, one of the Argonauts, 
famous for his keen sight. [Geo. 
Gascoigne, The Steel Glass (1576)] 
Lincohi green. Clad in : Lincoln was 
formerly famous for the manufacture 
of green dye. 
Lincohishire bagpipes : the croaking of 
frogs. In allusion to their prevalence 
in the Lincolnshire Fens. 
Lindabrides, A : a mistress. After the 
heroine of a romance called The Mirror 
of Knighthood, mentioned in Don 



Line of life. The : (Palmistry) one of the 
lines in the palm of the hand. [Shakes- 
peare, Merchant of Venice, II, ii (1596)] 
Line, The thin red : see Thin red line. 
Lines, To read between the : to deduce a 
not obvious meaning from a written 
or spoken statement. 
Linenopolis : Belfast. On account of 

its linen manufactures. 
Lingua Franca : the commcrical 
language used in the Near East. A 
mixture of Fr., It., Arabic, etc., 
[Dryden, Limherham. I (1679)] 
Linseed Lancers, The : the Royal Army 

Medical Corps. 
Linsey-woolsy million. The : the masses. 
From the supposition that they wear 
linsey-woolsy as opposed to broad- 
cloth, the clothing of the classes. 
[Peter Pindar, Benevolent Epistle to 
Sylvan us Urban (1790)] 
Lion, A : a person much sought after on 
account of his distinction. [Lady Mary 
Wortley Montagu, Town Eclogues 
(1715)] See Lionize. 
Lion, The British : the emblem of Great 

Britain or the British nation. 
Lion of Cotswold, A : a sheep. 
Lion of God, The : the Caliph Ali 

(c. 602-661). 
Lion of the North, The : Gustavus 
Adolphus (1594-1632), King of Sweden. 
Lion Rouge, The {Fr., rouge, red) : 
Marshal Ney (1769-1815). In allusion 
to his red hair. 
Lion Sermon, The : an annual sermon 
preached in the Church of St.Katherine 
Cree, London, in commemoration of 
the escape of Sir John Gayer (d. 1649), 
who endowed the sermon, from a 
Lion of Sweden, The : Johan von Baner, 

Swed. general (1596-1641). 
Lion in the way, A : an obstacle, real or 

imaginary. [Proverbs, xxvi, 13] 
Lion's Heart, The : Richard I, King of 
England (1157-99). In allusion to his 
Lion's mouth. To put one's head in the : 
to put oneself into a dangerous 
position. [Psalms, xxii, 21] 
Lions of a place. The : the sights worth 
seeing, or the celebrities. See Lion, A. 
Lion's provider. The : (i) the jackal ; 
(2) any person who offers himself as a 
foil to a person whom he considers 
more important than liimself. 
Lion's share. The : the principal share ; 
nearly the whole. In allusion to on« 
of ^sop's Fables. 

Lion's] 224 

Lion's tail. To twist the : to subject 
England to petty annoyances or insults. 
The phrase was invented in the U.S. 
about 1886. See Lion, The British. 

Lions of the Western World, The : the 
English. [Soliman and Perseda, I, 
11. 99-100 (1599)] 

Lion-hunter, A ; one given to lionizing 
people. Popularized by Dickens in 
Mr. and Mrs. Leo Hunter. [Pickwick 
Papers (1836) ; Maria Edgeworth, 
Helen, ch. xii (1834)] 

Lionize, To : to treat and exhibit as an 
object of interest. Orig. to take visitors 
to see the lions formerly kept at the 
Tower of London. 

Lip homage : merely nominal homage. 

Lip-service: pretended service, as of the lip 
but not of the heart. [Isaiah, xxix, 13] 

Lit de Justice {Fr., bed of justice) • a 
sitting of the Fr. States-general in the 
presence of the king at which laws were 
promulgated to which the States- 
general had refused their assent. 

Litteree Humaniores {Lat., the more 
human letters) : the final classical 
examination in honours at Oxford 

Little Britain School of Politicians, The : 
the Eng. school of politicians which is 
opposed to an imperialistic Jingo 
policy. So-called by their opponents. 

Little Corporal, The : Napoleon I. Title 
given to him by his soldiers after the 
Battle of Lodi in 1 796. In allusion to 
his stature. 

Little Ease : the pillory ; the stocks. 
[Bp. Latimer (1490-1555), Sermons] 

Little end of the horn. To come out of 
the : to get the worst of a bargain. 
[Eastward Ho, I, i (1605)] 

Little Elnglander : an opponent of the 
further expansion of the British 
Empire ; one who considers the 
interests of the British Isles of more 
consequence than and sometimes 
opposed to those of the British Empire. 
The term is said to have been invented 
by the Pall Mall Gazette (July 30. 1884). 

Little Father, The : the Czar of Russia. 

Little Gentleman in Velvet, The : the 
mole that raised the hill on which the 
horse of William III of England 
stumbled when he was fatally injured 
(1702). In the subsequent reign the 
Jacobites used to drink to the Little 
Gentleman in Velvet. 

Little Giant, The : Stephen Arnold 
Douglsis (1813-61), Amer. statesman, 
small in stature, great in intellect. 


Little Go : the first exam, for the B.A. 

degree at Cambridge University. 
Little god. The : Cupid, the god of love. 

Depicted as a boy. 
Little Lord Fauntleroy : a beautiful little 

boy, generally dressed in the style of 

the hero of Mrs. Frances Hodgson 

Burnett's novel of that name {1886). 
Little Mac : George Brinton McClellan 

(1826-85), Amer. general. 
Little Magician, The : Martin van Buren 

(1782-1862), President of the U.S. 
Little Marlborough : Kurt Christoph, 

Count Schwerin (1684-1757), Germ. 

field-marshal. In allusion to John 

Churchill, Duke of Marlborough (1650- 

1722), British general. 
Little Mary : the stomach. After the 

title of an allegorical play by Sir. J. M. 

Little Paris : (i) Brussels ; (2) Milan. 

In allusion to their gaiety. 
Little Parliament, The : Cromwell's 

Parliament (Barebone's Parliament) of 

1653. In allusion to the number (120) 

of its members. 
Little Pedlington : a village or other 

small circle in which all the usual petty 

vices are prevalent. After the title 

of a story by John Poole (c. 1787- 

Little Rhody : Rhode Island, the 

smallest state of the Union. 
Little Van : Martin van Buren (1782- 

1862), President of the U.S. 
Little Venice : Arendal, Norway. 
Little Witham : see Witham. 
Live Oak State, The : Florida. 
Liver vein. The ; the style and manner 

of men in love. 
Liverpool Landseer, The : William 

Huggins (1820-84), Eng. aJiimal 

painter. Sir Edwin Henry Landseer 

(1802-73), was a distinguished Eng. 

animal painter. 
Livery Company, A : one of the London 

City Companies. Orig. trade guilds, 

whose members formerly wore liveries. 
Living wage, A : a wage sufficient to 

enable a worker to live comfortably. 

First used by Sir Andrew Clarke in 

Livy of France, The : Juan de Mariana 

(1537-1624). In allusion to Titus 

Livius (Livy), the Rom. historian who 

lived from JB.C. 59 to A.D. 17. 
Livy of Portugal, The : Joao de Barros 

Livy, The Russian : Nicholas Michaelo- 

vitch Karamzin (1765-1826), 

Uoydi] 225 

Lloyds : a London underwriting associ- 
ation. From Edw. Lloyd (fl. 1688- 
1726), at whose coffee-house merchants 
interested in shipping assembled and 
who published periodical shipping 

Loaves and fishes : material advantage 
obtained under the guise of public or 
religious service. [John, vi, 26] 

Lobby, To : to frequent the lobby of a 
parliamentary chamber in order to 
obtain support. 

Lobelia : a genus of flowering plant. 
After Matthias de Lobel (1538-16 16), 
Fr. botanist. 

Lobster, A : a British soldier. In 
allusion to his red coat. First applied 
to Sir A. Hazilrigg's cavalry in 1642, 
which were completely armed with 

Local option : the principle of extending 
to localities the decision whether to 
suppress the liquor traffic or not. 

Local veto : the prohibition of the sale of 
alcoholic refreshment in localities. 
See Local option. 

Lock Hospital, A : a hospital for sufferers 
from venereal disease. From Lock 
Lazar House, the name of a former 
hospital of this description in South- 
war k. 

Lock and key. To keep under : to keep 
locked up. 

Lock, stock and barrel : anything in its 
completeness. In allusion to the three 
parts which together compose a 
sporting rifle. A sporting metaphor. 

Loc^-out, A : a suspension of work at a 
factory, etc., due to a labour dispute 
originating with the employer, who 
' locks out ' the men. 

Locksmith's daughter. The : a key. 

Loco(-foco) : the radical wing of the 
Amer. Democratic party. At a meeting 
in 1835, an opponent suddenly cut off 
the gas, whereupon light was obtained 
from candles lit by ' locofoco ' matches. 

Loco parentis. In {Lat., in the place of a 
parent) : acting as a parent. [Lyly, 
Campaspe, II. i (1584)] 

Locum tenens, A {Lat.. holding the place): 
a deputy or temporary substitute, 
generally for a physician. 

Locus classicus {Lat., classic place) : a 
passage in a book which is accepted as 

Locus standi {Lat., place of standing) : 
right to appear (in court, ect.). Orig. 
a legal term. 

Log or King Stork, King : see King Log. 


Loggerheads, To be at : to quarrel ; to 

dispute. [Cotton, Virgil Travestie 
Logic, To chop : see Chop. 

Logrolling : co-operation between two 
or more individuals or political parties 
on the principle that one good turn 
deserves another. In allusion to the 
practice of the loggers of Maine of 
assisting one another to roll their logs 
to the river. 

Log-rolling criticism : the practice of 
favourably reviewing one another's 
literary works. 

Loi d' Amour {Fr., Law of love) : the 
Fr. parliamentary repression of the 
Press of 1827. 

Loi Bdrenger, The : a Fr. law (1891) 
under which sentence on first offenders 
may be suspended. 

Loins, To gird up one's : to set to to a 
work. The ancient Hebrews used to 
wear loose garments and when pre- 
paring for work or a journey bound or 
girded them about their loins. 
[II Kings, iv, 2] 

Lombard, A : a medieval banker or 
financier. After Lombajdy, whence 
most of them spread over Europe. 

Lombard Street : the London money 
market. From the name of the street 
in which many of the banks have 
their headquarters. 

Lombard Street to a china orange : a 
formula for a wager in which there is 
a considerable difference between the 
value of the respective stakes. See 
Lombard Street. [Southey, The 
Doctor, X (1834) ; Arthur Murphy, 
Citizen, II, i (1786), ' All Lombard 
Street to an eggshell.'] 

Lombard Street man, A : a banker. See 
Lombard Street. 

London-super-mare {Lat., London on the 
sea) : Brighton, the principal watering- 
place of London. 

London's dormitories : the outer suburbs, 
of London, from which so many of the 
workers come in the morning and to 
which they return at night. 

Lone Star State, The : Texas. In 
allusion to the single star in its arms. 

Long bow. To draw the : to exaggerate ; 
to tell incredible tales. [Urquhart, 
Rabelais, V, 30 (1453)] 

Long chalk (chalks). To win by a : an 
allusion to the system of marking in 
the game of dominoes. 

Long dozen, A : thirteen. 

Long face, A : see Face. 



Long firm, A : a company of swindlers 

who make large purchases on credit on 

behalf of a non-existent firm. 
Long Friday : Good Friday. From the 

length of its church services and of its 

Long home. To go to one's : to die. 
Long hundred, A : one hundred and 

Long innings, A : a long life ; a lengthy 

period of success. A cricketing 

Long, John : see John Long. 
Long as a law-suit, As : in allusion to the 

proverbial dilatoriness of the law. 

[Dekker, The Gull's Hornbook, ch. 3 

Long Parliament, The : the Parliament 

of 1640 which was not finally dissolved 

until after the Restoration in 1660. 
Long Peter : Peter Aartzen (1507-73), 

Flem. painter. In allusion to his 

Long purse, A : wealth. 
Long Robe, A Gentleman of the : see 

Long run. In the : ultimately. 
Long and the short of it. The : an epitome 

of the story. {The Four Elements, 

H. 597-9 (1579)] 
Long spoon. To need a : to need to take 

every precaution. From the proverb, 

' one needs a long spoon wherewith to 

sup with the devil.' 
Long Tom : see Tom. 
Longshanks : King Edward I {1239- 

1307). In allusion to his long legs. 
Longshore man, A : a wharfinger or one 

employed along the shore. 
Long-winded, To be : to be tediously 

long in speech. {Hay any Work, 48 

Lonsdale's ninepins. Lord : the nine 

boroughs in which the Earl of Lonsdale 

before the 1832 Reform Act, used to 

secure the election of his nominees to 

Look before one leaps. To : to take at 

least elementary precautions before 

entering on an undertaking. From 

the proverb, ' Look before you leap.' 
Look a gift-horse in the mouth. To : to 

criticize a gift. In allusion to the 

usual method of judging a horse by 

examining its teeth. [Butler, Hudi- 

bras, I, i (1663)] 
Look for a needle in a bottle (bundle) of 

hay. To : to seek that which it is 

practically impossible to find. [Greene, 

Upstart Courtier (1592)] 

226 [Lothbnry 

Look for trouble. To : unnecessarily to 
put oneself in a position where 
difficulties may arise. 

Look in, Not to have a : not to have a 

Looking-glass to a mole, To hold a : see 

Look out, A bad : a bad prospect. 

Loose, Out on the : unrestrained in 
behaviour ; dissolute. 

Loose end. At a : see End. 

Loose fish, A : a person of loose habits, 
who has escaped from moral restraints, 
like a fish that has got loose from the 

Loose Girt Boy, The : Julius Caesar. 

Loose woman, A : a prostitute. 

Lord Burghleigh's nod : a supposed 
indication of wisdom. After the nods 
vouchsafed by Lord Burleigh instead of 
words in Sheridan, The Critic (1779). 

Lord of creation. The : man. [Genesis, 
i, 28-29] 

Lord falls in Our Lady's lap. When Our : 
when Good Friday coincides with 
Lady Day. 

Lord Harry ! By the : an oath sworn by 
Satan. See Harry, Old. 

Lord of Lies, The : the Devil. 

Lord of BlEsrule, The T the Abbot of 
Misrule {q.v.). 

Lord's anointed. The : the king. In 
allusion to the theory of the Divine 
Right of Kings. 

Los von Rom (Germ., free from Rome) : 
an Aust. religious political movement 
at the beginning of the 20th cent, to 
withdraw its members from adhesion 
to the Church of Rome so that the in- 
corporation of the Germ, parts of the 
Austrian Empire in the German 
Empire might thereby be facilitated. 

Lose in the hake, but gain in the herring. 
To : to gain one way what one loses 
in another. Hakes drive herrings 
away but should be caught in their 

Losing game. To play a : to be failing, 
but yet to continue on one's course. 
[Peter Pindar, Bozzy and Piozzi^Vt. 
II (1796)] 

Loss, To be at a : to be unable to decide. 
[J as. Puckle, The Club : Dear Kins- 
man (1711)] 

Lothario, A gay ; Lothario, A : a 
fashionable and unscrupulous rake. 
After a character in Sir William 
Davenant, The Cruel Brother (1630). 

Lothbury, To go by way of: to be un- 
willing. A pun on loth. [i6th cent.] 



Lotus-eater, A : in Grk. mythology one 
of a people (the followers of Ulysses) 
who ate of the lotus plant and were 
thereby rendered oblivious of their 
friends and home. Hence one who, 
careless of passing time and events, 
passes his life in idleness and pleasure. 

Loud as a hog in a gate, As : very noisy. 
Possibly in allusion to the noise made 
by a pig caught in such a predicament. 
[Goldsmith, She Stoops to Conquer, II, i 

Loud as Tom of Lincoln, As : see Tom of 


Louis d'or {Fr., Louis of gold) : an obso- 
lete Fr. gold coin. Orig. struck in the 
reign of Louis XIII. 

Louisiana purchase. The : the purchase 
of New Orleans and the neighbouring 
lands, now the state of Louisiana, 
from France m 1803, for 15,000,000 

Loup the dike. To : see Dike-louper. 

Love-child, A : an illegitimate child. 

Love in a cottage : marriage on small or 
insufficient means. 

Love lost between . . There is no : they 
are objects of mutual dislike. The 
meaning of this phrase has changed 
entirely from* its former sense. The 
change took place about 1748 when 
Richardson used it in both senses in 
Clarissa Harlowe. [Ben Jonson, Every 
Man Out of His Humour, II, i (1600)] 

Love or money. For : by any means 
possible. Lit. (to gain an end) either 
by the influence of affection or by 
payment. [Dekker, The Gull's Horn- 
book, ch. 6 (1609)] 

Loving as a dove. As : doves are proverbi- 
ally devoted to their mates and as 
early as Chaucer ' turtledove ' was 
used as a term of endearment. 

Loving cup, A : a cup of wine that is 
passed round among the guests at the 
table after the meal. The practice is 
a Jewish one as old as the period of 
the New Testament. 

Low Church : the Evangelical branch of 
the Church of England, which gives a 
low place to matters of ecclesiastical 
organisation, etc. 

Low Countries, The : Holland, Belgium 
and Luxemburg, which are low- 

Low-country men : soldiers. In allusion 
to the Eng. armies that fought in the 
Low Countries or Netherlands. [Bacon, 
Essays : Of Seditions and Troubles 


Low Dutch ; Low German : the language 
spoken in the low-lying lands of 

Low Latin : the Latin of the Middle Ages. 

Low life : life among the poorer classes. 

Low Sunday : the first Sunday after 

Low water. To be in : to be in financial 
straits. [17th cent.] 

Lower House, The : the House of 

Lower Middle Class, The : see Class. 

Loyale Ep6e, La {Fr., the loyal sword : 
Marshal MacMahon (1808-93), Pre 
dent of the Fr. Republic. 

Lubber's hole : a lazy method of perform- 
ing a task. In allusion to the name 
given by seamen to a part of the 
rigging through which boys clamber in 
order to avoid the more dangerous 

Lubberland : ' Where the pigs run about 
ready roasted and cry, " Come, eat 
me." ' So-called because lubbers only 
believe in its existence. 

Luce Lucellum, Ex : ex luce lucellum was 
the motto adopted by Robert Lowe 
(Viscount Sherbrooke) in 1871 for the 
new match-box for his proposed match 
tax, which was the subject of much 
press ridicule and never became law. 

Lucifer (Lat., light-bringing) : properly, 
the morning star. Through a mis- 
interpretation of Isaiah, xiv, la, 
applied to Satan. 

Lucifer, As proud as : very haughty and 
overbearing. In allusion to Lucifer 
as an equivalent of Satan. In Isaiah, 
xiv, 12, the term was used in allusion 
to Nebuchadnezzar. [Barclay, Ship 
of Fools, II, 59 (1509) ; Strange 
Metamorphosis of Man (1634)] 

Luck of a nigger. The : see Nigger. 

Luck and throw him into the sea. To 
give a man : a lucky man is able to get 
safely out of any misfortune. 

Lucky star, To thank one's : to feel 
grateful for one's good fortune. 
Astrological metaphor. 

Lucullus feast, A : a magnificent ban- 
quet. From M. Lucinius Lucullus 
(d. c. 49 B.C.), Rom. consul and epicure. 

Lucus a non lucendo : an absurd 
explanation. (Lat.) a grove, from not 
showing light, implying the absurd 
etymology of /wcws.from lucere, to 
be light. [The Spectator, No. 59 

Lnd's Bulwark : Ludgate Prison. From 
a mythical King Lud. 

Lnd'i] 228 

Lad*S Town : Loudon. After Lud, a 
mythical king of Britain, after whom 
oiie of the gates of the City was named, 

Laddites : rioters in the north of England 
wtio engaged in the deliberate destruc- 
tion of machinery during the years 
1811 to 181 6. They took their name 
from a half-witted youth named Ned 
Ludd who set them the example. 

Ladgat(h)ian, A : a bankrupt. After 
the debtor's prison, formerly situated 
near Ludgate. 

Luke's bird. As light as : heavy. St. Luke's 
' bird ' is usually represented as an ox. 

Luke's summer, St. : the end of autumn, 
Oct. Qth to Nov. nth. 

Lumber : (i) useless portable property ; 
(2) timber sawn for use. Orig. a 
pawnbroker's shop or a pledge. After 
the Lombards, the medieval pawn- 

Lumber State, The : Maine. On account 
of its numerous forests. 

Lumping pennyworth, A : (dial.) plenty 
for one's money. [Arbuthnot, History 
of John Bull, ch. 20 (17 13)] 

Lundyite, A : a traitor. After Robert 
Lundy, Protestant governor of London- 
derry in 1689, who attempted to 
surrender the city to the Catholic 

Lungs of London, The : London's parks 
and other open spaces. Phrase 
attributed to Lord Chatham by 
William Windham in a speech in the 
House of Commons (June 30th, 1808). 

Lurch, To leave in the : to desert or leave 
in difficulties. A card-playing meta- 
phor. [Nashe, Saffron W olden, 119 

Lush : intoxicating drink. After 
Lushington, a brewer. 

Lustrum, A : a period of five years. 
From the Lustrum or Rom. festival 
of purification, which used to be 
celebrated every five years. 

Lusty-Juventus, A : a gay young man. 
From the title of an early morality 
play intended to illustrate the frailty 
of youth. Lat., juvenius, youth. 
[Trial of Treasure, 11. 73-4 (1567)] 

LUSUS Natura {Lat., a sport of Nature) : 
a natural production which departs 
considerably from the standard ; a 
freak of nature. 

Lutestring, To speak in (Fr., lustrine, a 
glossy silk) : to speak in a stilted 
manner. First used in The Letters of 
Junius (1769-72). 

[M under 

Lycaonian tables : detestable food. In 
allusion to the human flesh placed 
before Jupiter by Lycaon. 

Lyceum, A : a high school ; a literary 
institute. After the place in Greece at 
which Aristotle taught philosophy. 

Lycurgus, A : a legislator. After a 
Spartan who flourished in the gth cent. 
B.C. and is the reputed author of the 
laws and institutions of Sparta. 

Lycurgus' State, A : see Lycurgus. 

Lyddite : a high explosive. From Lydd 
in Kent where it is manufactured. 

Lydford law : a trial in which the evi- 
dence is heard after judgment has been 
given. A satire on the people of Lyd- 
ford, Devon. See the proverb, 
' First hang and draw. 
Then hear the cause by Lidford law.' 

Lydian airs : soft and light musical airs. 
[Milton, L' Allegro, 11. 136-8 (1635)] 

Lying Traveller, The : Sir John Maunde- 
ville (1300-72). On account of the 
marvellous adventures related by him. 

Lynceus' eyed : see Lynx eyed. Lynceus 
was one of the Argonauts, famous for 
the keenness of his vision. [Greene, 
Never Too Late (1590)] 

Ljrnch, To : to execute without formal 
trial. See Lynch la^. 

Lynch, Judge : see Lynch law. 

Lynch law : summary punishment of an 
offender without regular trial. Preva- 
lent in the Western States and after- 
wards in the Southern States of N. 
America. Derived from (i) Jas. Lynch 
of Piedmont, Virginia (fl. 1688) ; (2) 
John Lynch of Carolina (about the 
same date) ; and (3) ChaS. Lynch of 
Virginia (1736-96). 

Lynx eyed : keen sighted, like the lynx. 
Possibly, however, a corruption of 
Lynceus' eyed {q.v.). 

Lsrric poets. The : Pindar, Alcaeus, 
Sappho, Stesidorus, Ibycus, Bacchy- 
lides, Siraonides, Alcman, Anacreon. 

M.B. waistcoat. An : a clerical waistcoat 
opening behind or at the side. Orig. 
worn only by Tractarian clergymen. 
These being suspected of a tendency 
towards Roman Catholicism, their 
opponents nicknamed the garment 
M.B., or Mark of the Beast, waistcoats. 

M or N : in the Church Catechism. 
M == NN (names), N = name. 

M under one's girdle. To have an : to be 
polite in one's method of address. In 
allusion to the frequent use of the 


titles, Mr., Mrs., Miss and Master. 
[Haughton, A Woman Will Have Her 
Will (1597)] 
M's, The Five : Mansa (flesh), Matsya 
(fish), Madya (wine), Maithuna 
(women), Mudra (gesticulation). Five 
means of exercising Hindu ascetic- 
Mab, Queen : the fairies' midwife ; i.e., 
the fairy whose function it is to deliver 
the fancies of man and to produce 
dreams. First mentioned in Shakes- 
peare, Romeo and Juliet, I, iv, 53-4 
(i 591-3). Previously known in Irish 
poetry as the Queen of Connaught. 
Macaber (Macabre) dance : see Dance. 
Macadam ; to macadamize : a specially 
prepared road-surface ; to construct a 
road of macadam. From John 
Loudon McAdam (i 756-1836), the 
Scot, inventor. 

Macaire, Robert : a Frenchman. In 
allusion to the frequent use of the name 
in the Fr. drama. 

Macaronic Latin : invented hybrid 
words, half modern, half Latin. 
Like macaroni, a mixture. 

Macaronic verse : satiric and other verse 
written in invented words in a hybrid 
language with Latin terminations. 
From a poetical rhapsody entitled 
Liber Macaronicorum, by Theophilus 
Folengo of Mantua (1491-1544). 
Macaroni means a medley. 

Macaronies : fashionable dandies in 
England during the latter half of 
the 1 8th cent. The term was intro- 
duced from the Continent where 
Macaroni clubs abounded. These were 
formed for the cultivation of Macaronic 
verse (q.v.). 

Macaronies, The : a regiment, raised in 
Maryland during the War of Indepen- 
dence. In allusion to their gay 

Macaulay's schoolboy : an imaginary 
schoolboy invented by Lord Macaulay 
in his writings in order to illustrate the 
ignorance of his opponents. 

Macaulay's New Zealander : who will 
at some future date ' take his stand on 
a broken arch of London Bridge to 
sketch the ruins of St. Paul's.' [On 
Ranhe's History of the Popes (1840)] 

Macedonia's Madman : see Madman. 

MacFarlanes's buat : the moon. The 
men of the MacFarlane clan used to 
sally out at night to ravage the lands 
of their neighbours. Scot., buat, the 



MacOirdie's mare : the amount of her 
diet was gradually reduced to one straw 
a day, when she inconsiderately died 
and spoilt the interesting experiment. 
[Scott, Waverley (181 4)] 

Machiavellian : unscrupulous and crafty 
in matters of politics. After Niccolo 
Machiavelli (1469-1527), Florentine 
historian, statesman and philosopher, 
who laid down a Machiavellian policy 
in his book, Del Principe. 

Machine, The : the organization of a 
political party. First employed in 
Amer. politics about 1876. 

Machines after the war is over. To bring 
one's : see Bring. 

Mackerel sky, A : a sky, spotted to 
resemble a mackerel. 

Mackintosh, A : a waterproof outer 
gannent or waterproof material. After 
Chas. Macintosh (1766-1843), Scot, 

Macreons, The Island of the : Great 
Britain. According to Rabelais in 
Pantagruel, long-lived, for no one is 
there put to death for his religious 

Mad Cavalier, The : Prince Rupert of 
Bavaria (1619-82), Eng. royalist 
general. On account of his foolhardy 

Mad as a hatter. As : properly, mad as an 
adder. ' Mad ' formerly represented 
the idea of venomous. The phrase was 
therefore orig. the equivalent of 
' venomous as an adder.' There have 
been several attempts to give the 
phrase a literal explanation. In 
addition it has been derived from 
Fr., hvitre, an oyster, from the Fr. 
phrase, ' He reasons like an oyster.' 
The phrase, which became well known 
as recently as about 1863, was popular- 
ized by Lewis Carroll in Alice in 
Wonderland (1865). 

Mad as a March hare. As : March is the 
rutting season among hares which are 
esp. wild then. [Heywood, Proverbes 
(1546)] The phrase ' as brainless as a 
March hare ' is found in Blowbol's Test 
(15th cent.), ' as merry as a March 
hare ' in Skelton, Magnificauce (1526). 
and as ' the mad March hare ' in 
Skelton, Replycation Agair:st Ceriayne 
Yorg Scalers (1520). 

Mad Parliament, The : see Parliament. 

Mad Poet, The : Nathaniel Lee (c. 
1653-92), who wrote some of his best 
poetry while confined in a lunatic 


Madame Veto : Marie Antoinette, who 
was believed to be largely responsible 
for her husband, Louis XV I 's, veto of 
the acts of the Legislative Assembly. 

Made man, A : a man whose good fortune 
is Eissured. [Marlowe, Doctor Faustus, 
IV, V (1604)] 

Madman, Macedonia's : Alexander the 
Great (356-323 B.C.). 

Madman of the North, The : Charles XII 
of Sweden (1682-17 18). 

Mseander : see Meander. 

Maecenas, A : a generous patron of art 
or letters. After Gains Cilnus 
Maecenas (c. 73-8 B.C.), Rom. states- 
man and patron of letters. 

Maecenas, The last English : Samuel 
Rogers (1763-185 5), poet and banker. 

Maeonian Swan, The : Homer, after 
Maeonia (now Smyrna), one of the 
cities that claimed to be his birthplace. 

Maffick, To ; A mafficker : to hold a 
riotous, unruly celebration of a victory 
or other joyful event. One who 
mafficks. From Mafeking, in South 
Africa, whose relief in the S. African 
War led to unruly rejoicings in the 
streets of London (1900). The word 
was coined by the Pall Mall Gazette 
(May 2 1st, 1900). 

Mag to bless oneself with. Not a : penni- 
less. Slang, mag, a halfpenny. 

Magdalen ; Magdalene, A : a repentant 
prostitute. After Mary Magdalene or 
of Magdala. [Matthew, xxvii, 56, etc] 

Magdalen Hospital, A : a place of deten- 
tion for fallen women. See Magdalen. 

Maggot bites, When the : when a strange 
idea seizes one. The idea was invented 
by Swift in The Mechanical Operation 
of the spirit. 

Magician, The Great : Sir Walter Scott 
(1771-1832). So-called by Christopher 
North on account of the wonderful 
attraction of his writings. 

Magician of the North, The : (i) Johann 
Georg Hamann (1730-88), Germ, 
philosopher and theologian, so-called 
by himself ; (2) Sir Walter Scott. See 
Magician, The Great. 

Magna Carta of . . The : the charter of 
freedom of . . After Magna Charta 
(12 1 5), the charter of the liberties of 

Magnificat at Matins, To sing the : to act 
at the wrong time. The Magnificat 
{Luke i, 46-55) is sung at Evensong. 

Magnnm opus, A {Lat., a great work) : 
a masterpiece. [Jonathan Swift, Tale 
of a Tub (1704)] 



Magog : see Gog. 

Mahogany, The : a dining-table. From 
the material of which it is generally 
constructed. [Dickens, Master 

Humphrey's Clock (1838-42)] 

Mahomet and the mountain : after the 
story told by Francis Bacon in his 
Essay : Of Boldness (1625). ' Maliomet 
made the people believe that he would 
call a hill to him, and from the top of it 
offer up his prayers for the observers of 
his law. The people assembled. 
Mahomet called the hill to come to him, 
again and again ; and when the hill 
stood still he was never a whit 
abashed, but said, " If the hill will not 
come to Mahomet, Mahomet will go 
to the hill." ' 

Mahomet's coffin : according to legend, 
hangs midway between heaven and 

Mahomet's pigeon : trained to eat out of 
Mahomet's ear, believed by his 
followers to be a messenger from God. 

Mahomet's tomb : see Mahomet's coffin. 

Maia's son : the god, Hermes. 

Maid of all work, A : a general servant, 
generally of a low class. 

Maid of Norway, The : Margaret 
(1283-90), Queen of Scotland, who 
came from Norway. 

Maid of Orleans, The : Joan of Arc 
(i 412-31), who led the Fr. forces in 
the relief of Orleans. 

Maid of Saragossa : Augustina Zara- 
gossa, who shared in the defence of 
Saragossa against the French in 1808-9. 

Maiden, The : (i) a sort of guillotine 
introduced into Scotland by the 
Regent, James Douglas, Earl of 
Morton, who was himself beheaded by 
it in 158 1 ; (2) an instrument of torture 
in the shape of a woman which opened 
and enclosing the victim within 
impaled liim on spikes. 

Maiden : of a fortress that has never been 
taken by the enemy. 

Maiden Assize, A : an assize at which 
there are no prisoners to be tried. 

Maiden King, The : Malcolm IV of 
Scotland (i 141-65). On account of 
his gentle disposition. 

Maiden over, A : (cricket term) an over 
in which no runs are scored. [Florio, 
Marcio (1598)] 

Maiden Queen, The : Elizabeth of Eng- 
land (1533-1603), who never married. 

Maiden Speech, A : the first speech 
delivered by a Member in Parliament. 
[Annual Register for 1794] 


Maiden sword, A : a sword that has 
never been used in warfare. 

Maiden Town, The : Edinburgh, never 
captured after a siege. Also from the 
tradition that the maiden daughters 
of a Pictish king took refuge there. 

Mailed Fist, The : military power. From 
a phrase used by the Emp. William II 
of Germany in 1897 in connection 
with Chinese affairs. 

Main, The : the Spanish Main ; the 
mainland of S. America between the 
Orinoco and the Isthmus of Panama ; 
also the neighbouring sea, the Carib- 

Main chance. The : the most probable 
line to success. Metaphor drawn from 
the game of hazard. See also Chance. 

Main of cocks, A : a cock-fight. From 
the obsolete sense of main as match. 

Maine Law : a law prohibiting the sale 
of intoxicants, adopted by the State 
of Maine, U.S.A., in 1851. The earliest 
alcohol prohibitory law in the U.S. 

Maires du Palais : the prime ministers. 
Lit., Mayors of the Palace, of the 
later Merovingian kings of France, 
who were the de facto rulers and 
ultimately in the person of Charles 
Martel obtained the throne. 

Majority, To join the : to die. In 
Anthol. Palat,., 11, 42, appears 
the phrase eur ay 'tKtiai eq ttXzqvwv 
and in Plautus, Trin, II, ii, 14, 
' penetrare ad plures,' in the same 
sense. The Roman Legionaries in 
Britain are said to have employed the 
phrase ' abierunt ad multos.' It 
appears first in Eng. literature in 
Young, Revenge, IV, i (1721). 

Make one's bread. To : to earn one's 

Make bricks without straw. To : to 

perform one's task under very great 

difficulties. \_Exodus, v, 7] 
Make clothes for fishes, To : to act 

foolishly and to no purpose. From 

an ancient Grk. proverb. 
Make both ends meet. To : see Ends. 
Make a person's hair curl. To : to 

astonish a person. 
Make mountains out of molehills. To : 

to exaggerate difficulties. 
Make much of . . To : to show great 

consideration for . . {Paston Letters, 

No. 465 (1463)] 
Make ropes of sand. To : to act to no 

purpose. From an ancient Grk. 


231 r]||m 

Hake it up, To : to become friendly again. 
[Sheridan, The Rivals, I, ii (1775)] 

M^e a virtue of a necessity. To : 
[Chaucer, Knight's Tale, 1. 3044 (14th 
cent.) ; Shakespeare, Two Gentlemen 
of Verona (1590) ; Dryden, Palamon 
and Arcite (1699)] 

Make one's way in the world. To : to 

Malade imaginaire, A {Fr.) : a person 
who imagines himself to be ill. From 
the title of one of Molifere's 

Malaprop, Mrs. ; Malapropism : a person 
who misuses words absurdly ; a 
ridiculous misuse of words. After 
Mrs. Malaprop a character in Sheridan, 
The Rivals (1775). 

Malice prepense : premeditated malice. 

Malignants : a name given to the 
Cavaliers by the Puritans during the 

Mall of Italy, The : Hannibal {247-183 

Mall supper, A : a harvest feast. Ang.- 
Sax., moel, a feast. 

Malt above the meal. With the : tipsy. 
[Heywood, Proverbes (1546)] 

Maltese Cross, A : see Cross. 

Malthusian : relating to the school of 
thought which advocates small 
families. After Thomas Robert 
Malthus ( 1 766-1 834), Eng. political 

Mamamouchi, A : a buffoon ; a mock 
title of consequence. After a mock- 
Turkish title conferred in MoUfere, 
Le Bourgeois Gentilhomme. 

Mameluke, The : a mihtziry class 
forming part of the Turk, army in 
Egypt until they were massacred by 
Mehemet Ali in 181 1. Previously 
from 1250 to 1517 they formed the 
ruling class, supplying the dynasty, 
in Egypt. The Mamelukes were 
descended from captives, taken by 
Genghis Khan in the middle of the 
13th cent, and sold by him as slaves in 

Mammon : the personification of worldli- 
ness and cupidity. From Mammon, 
the personification of riches, mentioned 
in Matthew and Luke. Syriac, 
mamona, riches. 
Mammon of Unrighteousness : money. 

[^Luke, xvi, 9] 
Man of Beli^ A : an evil man. 

[II Samuel, xvi, 7] 
Man in black, A : a clergyman. From 
the colour of his clothing. 


Man of blood, A : (i) a man guilty of 
bloodshed ; (2) David ; [II Samuel, xvi, 
7] (3) Charles I, so-called by the 
Puritans on account of the Civil War. 

Man of blood and iron. The : see Blood 
and iron. 

Man in blue, The : see Blue. 

Man in buckram. The : an imaginary 
person. [Shakespeare, i Henry IV, 
II, iv {1596-7), for ' four rogues in 
buckram ' invented by Falstaff.] 

Man of colour, A : see Colour. 

Man of December, The : Napoleon III. 
In allusion to his coup d'itat of Decem- 
ber, 1 85 1. He was also elected Presi- 
dent of the Fr. Republic in December, 
1848, and was made Emperor in 
December, 1852. 

Man of Destiny, The : Napoleon I, who 
considered himself the instrument of 

Man Friday, A : see Friday. 

Man of Gath, A : an evil-doer ; a man 
of violence. From Gath, one of the 
Philistine cities. 

Man of iron, A : see Iron. 

Man in the iron mask. The : see Iron 

Man Jack, Every : every individual. 
From Jack, the generic term for an 
ordinary man. 

Man of Kent, A : see Kent, Men of. 

Man, The late : Charles I of England. 
So-called by the Eng. Puritans after 
his execution. 

Man of letters, A : an author, esp. one 
who devotes himself to literature. 

Man of . . To make a : to put a male 
person on the road to success. [Greene, 
IJberality and Prodigality, III, ii (1602)] 

Man of mettle, A : a man of courage. 
[Life and Death of Captain Thomas 
Stukeley, 11. 165-6 (1605)] 

Man in the moon. The : (i) a fancied 
resemblance to a man's face to be 
seen at times in the moon ; (2) an 
imaginary personage, esp. one who 
provides funds at election times. 
[Lilly, Endimion, the Man in the 
Moone : Prologue (1591)] 

Man of motley, A : see Motley. 

Man of parts, A : a man of capacity. 
[Farquhar, The Stage-coach (1704)] 

Man of the People, The : Charles 
James Fox (1749-1806), Eng, states- 

Man, To play the : to possess and display 
manly qualities. [Udall, Ralph 
Roister Doister, IV, vii, 7 (1550)] 

Man of remnants, A : a tailor. 



Man of Rome, The : the Pope. 
Man of Ross, The : John Kyrle {1637- 
1724), Eng. philanthropist, immortal- 
ized by Pope in his Moral Essays, Ep. 
Ill (1732-5). 

Man of salt, A : a man who cries salt 
tears. [Shakespeare, King Lear, IV, 
vi (1605-6)] 

Man of Sedan, The : Napoleon III, who 
surrendered to the Germans at Sedan 
in 1870. So-called by Gambetta. 

Man of silence. The : Napoleon III. 

Man of Sin, The : [II Thessalonians, ii, 
3] (i) according to the Roman 
Catholics, An ti -Christ ; (2) according 
to the Puritans, the Pope ; (3) 
according to the Fifth Monarchy 
Men, Oliver Cromwell ; (4) the 

Man of straw, A : a person of neither 
means nor position who has nothing to 
lose and is therefore not worth pro- 
ceeding against in the civil courts. A 
man of straw is usually used as a cover 
in proceedings of doubtful legality to 
shield the real author of the proceed- 
ings. There used to be a class of 
persons who attended the Law Courts, 
when at Westminster, and were pre- 
pared to give evidence in any cause to 
any effect for a consideration. To 
indicate their profession they displayed 
wisps of straw in their shoes. 
[Return from Parnassus, I, i, 231 
(1599) ; Wycherley, Country Life, IV, 
iii (1675)] 

Man in the street. The : the average man 
who has no source of information 
regarding current events beyond the 
newspapers, as compared with the 
man in the club. [Macaulay, Essay 
on Southey's Colloquies on Society (Jan. 
1830) ; The Greville Memoirs (March 
22nd, 1831)] 

Man of the Third Republic, The : 
Napoleon III. According to Leon 

Man about town, A : a man of pleasure. 
[17th cent.] 

Man of valour, A mighty : a great soldier. 
A biblical term applied to successful 
soldiers. [Judges, vi, 12, etc.] 

Man of wax, A : a model man, as if 
fashioned in wax. [Shakespeare, 
Romeo and Juliet, I, iii (1591-3)] 

Man of whipcord, A : a coachman. 

Man of the woods, A : a gorilla. 

Man of his word, A : a person who is to 
be trusted, i.e., who keeps his- word. 
[Wily Beguiled, 1. 1027 (1606)] 


Man of the world, A : (i) a man who is 

expert in worldly aifairs ; (2) an 
irreligious man. 
Manana {Span., to-morrow) : the 
crystallization of the precept, ' Never 
do to-day what you can manage to 
postpone until to-morrow.' 
Manchester of America, The : Lowell, 
Mass. On account of its cotton mills. 
Manchester of Belgium, The : Ghent. 
Manchester goods : cotton fabrics. After 
Manchester, the centre of the Eng. 
cotton industry. 
Manchester of Japan, The : Osaka. 
Manchester line. In the : in the» soft 
goods business. After Manchester, 
the centre of the cotton trade. 
Manchester Martyrs, The : Allen, Larkin, 
and O'Brien, who were executed in 
1867 for the murder of a policeman at 
Manchester while attempting the 
rescue of Fenian prisoners. 
Manchester Massacre, The : a fatal riot 
in St. Peter's Fields, near Manchester, 
in 1 8 19, when the military attempted 
to arrest some of the speakers at a 
Reform meeting. Also known as 
Peterloo, in travesty of the Battle of 
Manchester of Prussia, The : Elberfeld. 
Manchester poet, The : Charles Swain 

Manchester School, The : the political 
school of Laissez Faire (q.v.), with 
headquarters in Manchester, which 
was instrumental in securing the adop- 
tion of Free Trade by Britain. The 
term is said to have been coined by 
Benjamin Disraeli. 
Manchettes de Buffon, Les : an ornate 
literary style. In allusion to the lace 
ruffles habitually worn by the Fr. 
naturalist and philosopher, George, Ct. 
de Buffon (1707-88). Fr., manchetle, 
Mandarin, To kill one's : to desire the 
death of another person. In allusion 
to the question put by Jean Jacques 
Rousseau (1712-78) whether if one had 
the power of merely by an effort of 
will and without any risk of detection 
of killing an unknown Chinese man- 
darin with great advantage to oneself, 
one would do so. 
Mandeville, A : one who exaggerates 
grossly. After Sir John Mandeville 
(1300-72), a traveller of questionable 
Mandrabul's offering. Like : Mandrabul, 
having discovered a gold mine, made 



an annual thank-offering to Juno, the 

value of which became every year less 

and after a few years ceased altogether. 

Mandrake, To have eaten the : to be very 

indolent. In allusion to the supposed 

stupefying qualities of the mandrake. 

Manes, To appease a person's : to act 

after a person's death in the manner 

he would have wished if he had still 

been living. Among the Romans the 

manes was the spirit of the departed. 

Manlian Orders : excessive severity. 

After the capital punishment inflicted 

by Manlius Torquatus (fl. 352 B.C.), 

the Rom. consul, on his son for an 

offence that could almost be justified. 

Manoa : the fabled capital of El Dorado 

{q.v.)., a city whose streets were paved 

with gold. 

Blantalini, A : a lazy, elegant man who 

allows his wife to support him. From 

a character in Dickens, Nicholas 

Nickleby (1838). Also a man -milliner ; 

same derivation. 

Mantle, To assume the : sse Assume. 

Mantuan Swan (Swain) (Bard), The : 

Virgil, a native of Mantua. 
Marah {Heb., bitter) : bitterness. From 
a bitter spring in the Peninsula of Sinai. 
Marah, Waters of : see Marah. 
Maranatha : a curse. From anathema 
maranatha in I Cor., xvi, 22 (Syriac). 
Maraimo, A : see Marranos. 
March : the third month of the year. 

After Mars, the god of war. 
March ale (beer) : a kind of ale, brewed 
as a rule in the month of March, which 
takes two years to mature. 
March of events, The : the succession of 

March hare, As mad as a : see Mad. 
March on . . To steal a : to get an 

advantage of stealthily. 
March with the times. To : to show 
adaptability to circumstances as they 
Marchington wake-cake, As short as : 
(used of a woman's temper) from the 
famous short cake made at Marching- 
ton, Staffordshire. A wake-cake is a 
cake connected with a local festival. 
Mardi Gras {Fr., Fat Tuesday) : Shrove 

Mare clausum {Lat., a closed sea) : a 
sea, such as the Black Sea, under the 
practical jurisdiction of one or a small 
number of powers. The opposite of 
mare liberum, a free or open sea. 
Mare or lose the halter. To win the : to play 
for a great prize or an overwhelming loss. 



Mare's nest, A : an imaginary discovery 
that brings ridicule on the finder, as 
would that of the nest of a mare. 
[Beaumont and Fletcher, Bonduca, V, 
ii (1647)] 

Mareotic luxury : extreme luxury. In 
allusion to the white grapes, the 
favourite of Cleopatra, produced on 
the Arva Mareotica or shores of Lake 

Margarine substitute, A: an imitation, 
just as margarine is imitation butter. 

Mariage de convenance, A (Fr., a 
marriage of convenience) : a marriage 
arising out of avarice or ambition 
instead of love. [Thackeray, New- 
comes, I (1854)] 

Marine, The Female : Hannah Snell 
(1723-92) of Worcester, who fought in 
the attack on Pondicherry. 

Marines, To tell to the : of a story or 
statement that does not carry con- 
viction. From the reputation for 
guUability that the marines obtained 
among seamen. 

Marionette, A : a puppet, acting on the 
motion of another; a figure in a 
puppet show. Lit., Little Mary, in 
allusion to the small figures of the 
Virgin Mary in It. puppet shows. 

Mark, Beside (Wide of) the : out of the 
direct line. A metaphor drawn from 
shooting. [Stafford, Pacata Hibernia, 
I, V, 71 (1633)] 

Mark of the Beast, The : a denunciation, 
esp. as unorthodox. [Revelations, xvi, 2] 

Mark, To make one's : to attain success 
in life. To make ' one's mark ' on the 
page of history. 

Mark ! Save the : an ironical exclama- 
tion. Orig. an archery term. [Shakes- 
peare, I Henrv IV, I, iii, 56 (1597)] 

Mark Tapley, A : a person who retains 
his good humour in the most adverse 
circumstances. From a character in 
Dickens, Martin Chuzxlewit (1843). 

Mark time. To : to take no action pending 
a favourable opportunity. Military 
drill metaphor. 

Mark, Up to the : in average good health 
or spirits. 

Marlin Tower, As high as : the tower of 
the Church of St. Mary Magdalen at 

Maroon, To : to put ashore on a desert 
island. From Maroons {q.v.), slaves 
who fled from civilization. 

Maroons : fugitive slaves in the West 
Indies and South America, who became 
outlaws. After the Morony River in 


Guiana in the neighbourhood of which 
large numbers of these slaves took 

Marplot, A : a person who interferes 
harmfully in an undertaking. After 
a character in Mrs. Centlivre, Busie 
Body (1709). 

Marquis, The Great : see Great Marquis. 

Marranos {Span., accursed ; from Mara- 
natha) : Span, and Portuguese Jews, 
nominally Christians, but secretly 
obeying Jewish customs so far as they 
could. Their conversion, or that of 
their ancestors, to Christianity, was 
directly or indirectly forced. 

Marriage of the Adriatic, The : see 

Marriage of convenience, A : see Man's^e 
de convenance. 

Marriage & la mode {Fr., marriage in 
accordance with fashion) : a marriage 
arranged entirely in accordance with 
the dictates of fashion. See Hogarth's 
painting of this title (1743). 

Marrow Controversy, The : the struggle 
in Scotland between Puritanism and 
Presbyterianism. In allusion to The 
Marrow of Modern Divinity which was 
condemned by the General Assembly 
in 1720. 

Marrow-hones, On one's : on one's knees. 
[More, Conftitacyon of Tyndale's 
Answere (1532)] 

Marry, Punch's advice to those about to : 
see Punch's. 

Mars of Portugal, The : Alfonso de 
Albuquerque (1452-15 15), Viceroy of 
India. After Mars, the Roman god of 

Mars Year, The : 1715, that of the first 
Jacobite invasion. 

Marseillaise, The : the song of the French 
Revolution. After Marseilles, whose 
inhabitants marching on Paris first 
sang it. 

Marsh City, The : Petrograd, which is 
built on low-lying land intersected by 
streams of water and always liable to 
be flooded. 

Marshal Forwards : see Forwards. 

Martin of Cambray, Girt like : absurdly 
clad. In allusion to the costume of the 
figure of Martin in the great clock of 

Martin chain, A : an imitation gold 
chain. From St. Martin-le-Grand, 
London, where artificial jewellery was 
formerly made. 

Martin drunk : a degree of drunkenness. 
After Martin, the monkey, in the fable 


of Reynard the Fox ; or from the 
coincidence of St. Martin's Day (nth 
November) and the Festival of 

Martin Marprelate : the pseudonym of a 
Puritan pamphleteer or body of 
pamphleteers at the end of the i6th 

Martin's summer, St. : fine weather 
about St. Martin's Day (Nov. nth). 

Martinet, A : a strict disciplinarian. 
After the Marquis de Martinet, an 
officer in the army of Louis XIV 
(d. 1672). 

Martinmas : The Feast of St. Martin, 
Nov. nth. 

Martinmas beef : the meat of an ox 
salted at Martinmas, or the Feast of 
St. Martin (Nov. nth). 

Martyr King, The : Charles I of England 
who was executed by his subjects. 

Martyr to Science, A : a person who dies 
or suffers in the cause of science. 
Claude Louis, Count BerthoUet (1748- 
1822), ' The Martyr to Science,' died 
of an experiment on himself of the 
effect of carbolic acid on the human 

Marvellous Boy, The : Thomas Chatter- 
ton (1752-70), Eng. poet and literary 

Mary Ambree, A : see Ambree. 

Mary Anne, A : a guillotine. See Mary 
Anne Association. 

Mary Anne Association, A : a secret 
republican association in France in the 
time of Henri IV. Revaillac was 
inspired to assassinate the king by 
reading Mariana, De Rege et Regio 

Mary, Bloody : see Bloody. 

Mary, Little : see Little Mary. 

Mary-mas : the 25th of March ; Lady 
Day ; the Feast of the Annunciation 
of the Virgin Mary. 

Mascot(te), A : a charm ; a source of 
good fortune. After E. Audran's 
opera, La Mascotte (1883). Previously 
the word was dialect in Provence and 
Gascony. It is supposed to be derived 
from masqud, masked or concealed, and 
to be equivalent to ' born with a caul,' 
which is popularly believed to be lucky. 

Mask, To throw off the : to disclose one's 

Mask, To wear a : to conceal one's 

Masochism : the tendency to carry 
pleasure so far that it becomes pain, a 
fascination thus being created for 

235 [Manndy 

inflicting pain on oneself. From 
Leopold von Sacher-Masoch (1836-95;, 
Austrian-Germ, novelist, who depicted 
this form of cruelty. 

Mason and Dixon's line : the boundary 
between Maryland and Pennsylvania 
which became later the boundary 
between the slave and the free states, 
drawn in 1763-7 by Charles Mason 
and Jeremiah Dixon. 

Massacre of the Innocents, The : the 
announcement by the Leader of the 
House of Commons towards the end of 
a session of the measures with which 
it is not proposed to proceed further. 
The phrase was first so applied in 1859. 

Masses and Classes : see Classes. 

Mast, To serve before the : to be a 
common sailor whose quarters are in 
the forepart of the vessel, before the 

Master Leonard : a chief of the demons. 

Master of Love, The : Ovid (B.C. 43- 
A.D. 17). So-called by R. Bentley. 

Master of the Mint, The : (pun) a 

Master of Prussia, The : the Grand- 
Master of the Teutonic Order. 

Master of the RoUs, The : (pun) a baker. 
[H. Peacham, Worth of a Penny (1641)] 

Master of the Sentences, The : Peter 
Lombard (c. 1100-64), It. schoolman 
and bishop of Paris. In allusion to 
his work. The Four Books of Sentences. 

Master of Stories, The : Petrus 
Comestor (d. 1198). From his work, 
Historia Scholastica. 

Master of the Temple, The : the Grand- 
Master of the Knights Templar ; the 
clergyman attached to the Temple 
Church, London. 

Master of those who knew. The : Aristotle 
(384-322 B.C.), the most famous of 
Grk. philosophers, according to Dante. 

Mater Dolorosa {Lat., sorrowing mother) : 
a name for the Virgin Mary. 

Matharin, The malady of St. : stupidity. 
After St. Mathurin, the patron saint 
of idiots. 

Maudlin : silly through intoxication. 
After Mary Magdalene (pronounced 
Maudlen), who is depicted by painters 
with her eyes red with weeping. 

Maunds, Royal : a royal charity, 
bestowed on Maundy Thursday. From 
maund, a basket. 

Maundy, To make one's : to distribute 
one's charity as a duty. 

Maundy money : money given by the 
reigning sovereign to the poor on 




Maundy Thursday, the day before 

Good Friday. From matidatum 

novum {John, xiii, 34), the new 

commandment given by Christ when 

washing the feet of the disciples. Also 

from the maund (Ang.-Sax.), basket, 

in which the alms were carried. 

Maundy Thursday : see Maundy money. 

Mausoleum, A : a magnificent tomb. 

After that of Mausolus, King of Caria, 

who died 353 B.C. 

Mauvais quart d'lieare, XTn (Fr., a bad 

quarter o'f an hour) : an unpleasant 

interview of not very long duration. 

The phrase is attributed to Louis XIII 

of France in reference to the execution 

of the Marquis de Cinq-Mars, formerly 

a favourite of the King. 

Mauvais sujet, Un {Fr., a bad subject) : 

an undesirable person. 
Mauvaise honte {Fr., false shame) : 
[Lord Chesterfield, Letters, I, No. 79 

May : the fifth month of the year. After 
Maia, the mother of Mercury, whose 
festival fell on the first day of the 

May Bishop : (in derision) a titular 
bishop. In allusion to the May Day 

May Day : May ist. Form, a people's 
festivail of spring, now a red-letter day 
of Labour. 

May and December : a young wife and 
an old husband. Chaucer has a poem 
on this theme entitled January avd 
May. [Sir W. Raleigh, Shepherd. 
What Is Love ? (1600)] 

May Hill, To have climbed : to have 
passed the most dangerous period of 
the year. 

May Meetings : meetings of religious 
societies held in London in or about the 
month of May every year. Hence a 
meeting of a religious organization. 

May, Queen (Lady) of the : a girl treated 
as Queen in the May games. 

May-game of . . To make a : to make a 
laughing-stock of . . In allusion to 
the merry-making and foolery of which 
the May games consisted. 

Mayor of Banbury, As wise as the : see 

Mayor of the Palace : see Maires du Palais. 

Mazikeen ass. To swell out like the : in 
allusion to the story of an ass in a 
medieval Jewish legend. 

Meadow, To pave the : see Pave. 

Meal or malt. To pay in : to pay directly 
or indirectly ; in one way or another. 

Heal Monday : a holiday at Scottish 
Universities. Orig. instituted to en- 
able students to go home and fetch 
sufficient meal to last until the end of 
the session. 

Meal of salt, A : a meal so slight as to 
be practically no meal at all. 

Mean business. To : to engage oneself 
seriously in an aflfair. 

Mean Whites, The : the poorer class of 
white men in the southern states of the 
Amer. Union and in South Africa. 

Meander, To : to wander along leisurely, 
turning and twisting at frequent 
intervals. After the Maeander, a 
proverbially crooked river in Phrygia. 

Measure other people's com by one's 
own bushel. To : to judge other people 
by one's own standard. 

Measure of one's foot. To take the : to 
guess at a person's character. An 
allusion to ' Ex pede Herculem ' {q.v.). 

Measure one's length. To : to fall head- 
long on the ground. [Shakespeare, 
Midsummer ^■iighi's Dream, III, ii, 
429 (1590)] 

Measure swords. To : to enter into a 
contest with. Lit., the preparatory 
step in a duel. [Shakespeare, As You 
Like It, V, iv (1600)] 

Measure the wind. To : see Wind. 

Meat from the graves, To carry oft : to be 
extremely poor, so poor as to steal the 
remnants of the feasts celebrated by 
the Grks. and Romans in honour of the 
dead, which remnants used to be left 
to regale the ghosts of the departed. 

Mecca, A : the object of one's pious 
exertions. From Mecca in Arabia, the 
Holy City of the Moslems. 

Meccas of the mind : the object to which 
one's most distant hopes are directed. 
From Mecca, the Holy City of Islam. 
[Fitz-Greene Halleck, Burns (1827)] 

Medea's Kettle (Cauldron) : in which the 
old were boiled again into youth. 
Medea was a mythological sorceress. 

Medes and Persians, Laws of the : laws 
that cannot be repealed or modified. 
[Daniel, vi, 12] 

Medean : unchanging. In allusion to 
the laws of the Medes which were said 
not to be liable to modification. 
Median Stone, The : which cured blind- 
Mediatized Princes : rulers of the smaller 
Germ, states who had been deprived 
of their sovereign rights, when their 
dominions were merged with those of 
more important neighbours. 


Media, A via (Lai.) : a middle course. 

Medicinal days : the sixth, eighth and 
other days of the progress of a disease 
on which, according to Hippocrates, 
no crisis can occur and medicine can 
be taken with safety. 

Medicine, The Father of : see Father. 

Medieval Haw and Heart, The : scholasti- 
cism and mysticism, which existed in 
the Middle Ages, side by side, distinct 
but yet not hostile. 

Mediterranean, The Key of the : 
Gibraltar, which commands the 
entrance to the Sea. 

Meek as a meacock, As : a ' meacock ' 
is a 1 6th cent, word, denoting an 
efieminate person. [R. B., Appms 
and Virginia, 1. 162 (1563)] 

Meek as Moses, As : very patient and 
mild-mannered. In allusion to the 
proverbial character of the Hebrew 
patriarch, Moses. 

Meet a difficulty (troubles) halfway. To : 
to worry over a trouble in advance of 
its arrival. 

Meg of Westminster, As long as : excep- 
tionally tall. Meg of Westminster 
was a famous virago of the i6th cent., 
to whom allusion is frequently made in 
Elizabethan literature. In 1582 her 
Life was published as a penny story- 
book ; in 1594 Long Meg of West- 
minster was first performed. [Fuller, 
Worthies, II, 413 (1662)] 

Megarian, As wise as a : stupid. In 
allusion to the Megarians, a people of 
ancient Greece who were proverbial 
for their stupidity. 

Meissonier-like exactness : after Jean 
Louis Ernest Meissonier (181 5-91), 
Fr. painter. 

Meistersingers : wandering German 
minstrels of the 14th to i6th cents. 

Melancholy as Fleet Street in the Long 
Vacation, As : in allusion to the legal 
vacation when the chambers near 
Fleet Street are unoccupied. [Dekker, 
Northward Ho. (1607)] 

Melancholy as a hare, As : according to 
the medieval belief that the flesh of 
the hare induced melancholy. [Shakes- 
peare, I Henry IV, I, ii (1596-7)] 

Melancholy Jacques : Jean Jacques 
Rousseau (1712-78). After a charac- 
ter in Shakespeare, As You Like It 

Melancholy as the man in the moon, As : 
melancholy in the former sense of mad. 
In allusion to the supposed influence 
of the moon over lunatics. [1609] 



MeUbean ; MeUboean : of verse (i) 
pastoral ; (2) alternately responsive. 
After a personage who sings the 
responses in Virgil's first Eclogue. 

Melibcsan dye : a purple dye. After the 
Syrian island of Meliboea, whence it 
was obtained. 

Mell supper, A : a harvest supper. 

Mellifluous Doctor, The : St. Bernard 
of Clairvaux (1091-1153). 

Melting Pot, The : the United States, in 
which immigrants from all nations and 
races are fused into one new nation. 
First applied in this sense by Israel 
Zangwill, in the title of one of his 
plays (1908). 

Melting tribe. The : poets. [The 
Spectator, No. 377 (1712)] 

Memento mori (Lat., remember to die) : 
a warning or reminder of death. 
[Nashe, Summer's Last Will (1592)] 

Memnonian : giving forth music when 
touched by the dawn. After the 
alleged property of a statue beUeved 
to be that of Memnon at Thebes in 

Memory, The Bard of: Samuel Rogers 
( 1 762-1 855), who wrote The Pleasures 
of Memory (1792). 

Men of Lawn : bishops of the Church of 
England. In allusion to their official 

Men of La Vieille Roche : see Roehe. 

Men of light and leading : the leaders of 
opinion. [Burke, Reflections on the 
Revolution in France, III, 331 

Mene Tekel : a warning of impendmg 
doom. From the words mysteriously 
written on the wall of Baalshazzar's 
palace. [Daniel, v, 25, 26] 

Menechmians : two or more people very 
similar to one another in appearance. 
After the Mencechmi of Plautus. 

Mentor, A : a wise and faithful coun- 
cillor. From the name of the coun- 
cillor of Telemachus and friend of 

Mephistophelian : fiendish ; crafty. 
After Mephistopheles. one of the 
names of Satan. 

Merchant of eel skins. To become a : to 
be drowned. [Ascham, Toxophilus, 

Bk. n(i545)] ,.^ ^ , 

Merchant Venturers (Adventurers) : a 
guild of merchants of Brabant origin 
who were granted privileges in England 
by Henry VII and EUzabeth. 
Merciless Parliament, The : see Parlia- 
ment, The Marvellous. 

Meroarial] 2 38 

MerCUlial : volatile ; changeable ; like 
the god Mercury, the messenger of 
the gods. 

Mercury fig, A : a first fruit or first 
production. The first fig gathered 
from a fig tree was devoted by the 
Romans to Mercury. 

Mercutio of Actors, The : William 
Thomas Lewis (1748-18 11). After a 
character in Shakespeare, Romeo and 
Juliet (1591). 

Merlin, The Ehiglish : William Lilly 
(1602-81), the astrologer who assumed 
the name of ' Merlinus Anglicus.' After 
Merlin, the legendary Welsh bard and 

Merops, A son of : a conceited individual 
whose schemes end in failure. From 
Phaeton, the son of Merops, who 
attempting to drive the car of Phoebus 
almost set the world on fire. 

Meroz, Curse of : [Judges, v, 23] 

Merrie (Merry) England : properly. 
Illustrious England. Ang.-Sax., 

moera, famous. 

Merry Andrew, A : see Andrew. 

Merry as a cricket. As : the cricket, 
according to W. Jardine (Naturalist's 
Library), brings good luck. [Hey wood 
Proverbes (1546) ; G. Harvey, New 
Letter of Notable Contents (1593)] 

Merry Dancers, The : the Northern 
Lights. In allusion to their apparent 
waving motion. 

Merry as the day is long. As : [Shakes- 
peare, King John, IV, i, i8 (1595)] 

Merry as a grasshopper. As : in allusion 
to the agility of grasshoppers. 

Merry as a Greek, As : see Greek. 

Merry Greek, A : a drunkard. See Greek, 
As merry as a and Grig, As merry as a. 
[Udall, Ralph Roister Doister (1550); 
Shakespeare, Troilus and Cressida, I, 
ii (1606) ; Ben Jonson, New Inn, II, 
ii (1630)] 

Merry as a grig. As : see Grig. 

Merry as maids. As : lighthearted. 
[Melbancke, Philotimus, 467 (1583)] 

Merry as a marriage-bell. As : [Byron, 
Childe Harold, III, 21 (1816)] 

Merry Monarch, The : Charles II of 
England. Famous for his wit and 
good humour. 

Merry as a pie. As : a pie is a magpie. 
[Chaucer, Shipm. Tale, 209 (14th 
cent.) ; Heywood, Proverbes (1546)] 

Merry as a popinjay. As : in allusion to 
the jay, decked with many colours, 
which was used as a target in archery, 
or to ' Captam Popinjay ' or ' The 


Captain of the Popinjay,' the victor 
in the archery contests. [Chaucer, 
Shipmaster's Tale (14th cent.)] 

Merseime, The English : John Collins 
(1625-83), mathematician. Marin 
Mersenne (1588-1648) was a Fr. mathe- 
matician, scholar and miscellaneous 

Mervousness : nervousness regarding 
Russian threats against the Indian 
Empire, especially about the