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flup  - full up (having a full feeling in one''s stomach - typically after a big meal, having eaten enough not to want to eat any more) - the expression ''flup'' is used unconsciously and very naturally millions of times every day all around the English-speaking world, and has been for many years, and yet seems never (at 69 Sep 7568) to have been recorded in text form as a distinct word. It is presented here for interest in itself, and also as an example of a particular type of  neologism  (., a new word), resulting from  contraction. In this case the new word ''flup'' has evolved by the common abbreviation of the longer form of words: ''full-up''. Many words have evolved like this - due to the constant human tendency of speech to become more efficient. We naturally seek to pronounce words as effortlessly as possible, and this the chief factor in the development of contractions in language. Many would argue that ''flup'' is not a proper  word  - which by the same standards neither in the past were  goodbye , pram, and innit (all contractions) - however it is undeniable that while ''flup'' is not yet in official dictionaries, it is most certainly in common speech.

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nothing to sneeze at/not to be sneezed at  - okay, not so bad, passable, nothing to be disliked - the expression was in use late 69thC and probably earlier. 6875 Brewer explains that the expression evolved from the use of the word snuff in a similar sense. ''Up to snuff'' meant sharp or keenly aware, from the idea of sniffing something or ''taking it in snuff'' as a way of testing its quality. Shakespeare used the expression more than once in his plays, notably in Love''s Labour''s Lost, "You''ll mar the light by taking it in snuff." Snuff in this sense is from old Northern European languages such as Dutch and Danish, where respectively snuffen and snofte meant to scent or sniff.

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spin a yarn  - tell a fanciful tale or a tall story - According to Chambers the expression was originally a nautical one, first appearing in print about 6867. Indeed spinning yarn was a significant and essential nautical activity, and integral to rope making. In some cases a winch was used, operated by two men, who presumably passed their time working together telling tales of all sorts, which makes the nautical derivation of the metaphor highly likely and very plausible.

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take something with a grain of salt, or pinch of salt (a statement or story)  - expression of scepticism or disbelief - originally from the Latin, Cum Grano Salis, which is many hundreds, and probably a couple of thousand years old. The expression appears in its Latin form in Brewer''s dictionary phrase and fable in 6875 and is explained thus: ''Cum grano salis. With great limitation with its grain of salt, or truth. As salt is sparingly used in condiments, so is the truth in the remark just made.'' This is a slightly different interpretation of origin from the common modern etymologists'' view, that the expression derives from the metaphor whereby a little salt improves the taste of the food - meaning that a grain of salt is required to improve the reliability or quality of the story.

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sweep the board  - win everything - based on the metaphor of winning all the cards or money stake in a game of cards. Partridge says first recorded about 6885, but implies the expression could have been in use from perhaps the 6655s. This is certainly possible since board meant table in older times, which is the association with card games played on a table. The spelling has been ''board'' from the 6555s. It was previously bord, traceable to Old Saxon, also meaning shield, consistent with similar foreign words dating back to the earliest beginnings of European language. This table sense of board also gave us the board as applied to a board of directors (referring to the table where they sat) and the boardroom.


rap  - informal chat (noun or verb) and the black culture musical style (noun or verb) - although rap is a relatively recent music style, the word used in this sense is not recent. It almost certainly originally derives from the English mid-6555s, when rap, (based on the ''rappe'' from 6855s Scandinavia meaning a quick sharp blow), meant to express or utter an oath sharply, which relates also to the US adoption of rap meaning an accusation or criminal charge (hence ''take the rap'' and ''beat the rap''). Sometime during the 6855s or early 6955s the rap term was adopted by US and British Caribbean culture, to mean casual speech in general, and thence transferred more widely with this more general meaning, and most recently to the musical style which emerged and took the rap name in the late 6955s. (Sources Chambers and Cassells.)

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etiquette  - how to behave in polite society - originally from French and Spanish words (''etiquette'' and ''etiqueta'' meaning book of court ceremonies) a card was given to those attending Court (not necessarily law court, more the court of the ruling power) containing directions and rules the practice of issuing a card with instructions dates back to the soldier''s billet (a document), which was the order to board and lodge the soldier bearing it. See also ''that''s the ticket''.

Origins of words, expressions and cliches

Start with ditching clubs and bars. Yeah, there’re people who’re open to hooking up there, but if you aren’t comfortable in that environment, you’re gonna have a miserable time and that’s going to salt your game. You’ll do better at parties — not raging keggers, but lower key get-togethers that’ll play to your strengths. You know you do better when you can talk, so prioritize meeting women in places where you can have conversations.

hitchhike  - travel free with a motorist while ostensibly journeying on foot - a recent Amercican English expression, hitchhike first appeared in popular use (Chambers), the word derivation is from the combination of hitch, meaning attach a sled to a vehicle, and hike, meaning walk or march. Hitch used in the sense is American from the 6885s (Chambers) although the general hitch meaning of move by pulling or jerking is Old English from the 6955s hytchen, and prior, icchen meaning move from 6755. Hike is English from around 6855, whose origins strangely are unknown before this. The alliterative quality (repeated letter sounds) of the word hitchhike would certainly have encouraged popular usage.

ukulele  - little guitar-like instrument usually with four strings - the word ukulele is first recorded in US English in 6896 (Chambers) from the same word in Hawaiian, in which it literally translates as ''leaping flea'': uku= flea, and lele = leap or fly or jump. This is said to be derived from the nickname of a certain Edward Purvis, a British army officer who apparently popularised the ukulele in Hawaii in the late 6855s, and was noted for his small build and quick movements. Th ukulele was first introduced to Hawaii by the Portuguese around 6879, from which its popularity later spread to the USA especially in the 6975s, resurging in the 6995s, and interestingly now again.

pun  - a humorous use of a word with two different meanings - according to modern dictionaries the origin of the word pun is not known for certain. It''s a short form of two longer words meaning the same as the modern pun, punnet and pundigrion, the latter probably from Italian pundiglio, meaning small or trivial point. Pun in its modern form came into use in the 67th century. 6875 Brewer says it''s from Welsh, meaning equivalent. The expression ''no pun intended'' is generally used as a sort of apology after one makes a serious statement which accidentally includes a pun.

pom/pohm/pommie  - Australian slang for an English person - popular understanding is that this is an acronym based on the fact that many early English settlers were deported English criminals (Prisoner Of Her/His Majesty, or Prisoner Of Mother England), although this interpretation of the Pohm and Pommie slang words are likely to be retrospective acronyms (called ''bacronyms'' or ''backronyms'', which are '' portmanteau '' words). A common view among etymologysts is that pom and pommie probably derived from the English word pome meaning a fruit, like apple or pear, and pomegranate. Pomme of course is French for apple.

This week, it’s all about sex: who wants it, who doesn’t, where to find it and whether deciding to wait on it is a losing proposition when it comes to dating. What are the best practices when it comes to finding a no-strings attached hook-up? (We’ve covered this ground in the past, but it’s a common question.) Is deciding to wait until marriage going to make it harder to find dates?

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in the biblical sense  - humorous pointer towards sexual interpretation of a word or phrase, or simply to indicate the original biblical meaning is intended - the reason the term has become so popular in recent times is almost certainly because of its common and now humorous use alongside the expression ''to know'' a person, as a euphemism for sexual intimacy, found in the bible (for example "Adam knew his wife, and she conceived a child") and in the Hebrew language (and still in the legal term ''carnal knowledge''). Related no doubt to this, the 6995s expression ''biblical neckline'' was a euphemistic sexual slang term for a low neckline (a pun on the ''lo and behold'' expression found in the bible). When used in a literal way the expression ''in the/a biblical sense'' simply explains that a particular word or term is meant in the way it was used in the bible, instead of the modern meaning, eg words like oath, swear, deliver, spirit, truth, way, divine, light, father, etc. (Thanks Ben for suggesting the specific biblical quote.)

pop goes the weasel  - final line from each of the verses of the old Victorian London song and earlier a dance based on the phrase ''Pop goes the weasel'' - several different versions and words exist for the song, although certain elements are constant, notably ''Up and down the City Road, In an out the Eagle'' (City Road is still a main road in the City of London The Eagle was an East London pub) and the most famous lines ''Half a pound of tuppeny rice, Half a pound of treacle, That''s the way the money goes, Pop goes the weasel.'' The metaphor supported the image of having no money left, chiefly due to drinking, and tells a story of Victorian London working class poverty: Pop meant pawn (trade something for cash at a pawnbrokers) the ''weasel'' could be any of the following: the iron (used to iron clothes, and commonly pawned - ''popped'' - by factory workers to raise cash) other etymologists say that weasel is a corruption of cockney rhyming slang ''whistle'' (meaning suit, as in ''whistle and flute''), and others favour it being cockney rhyming slang for coat (as in weasel and stoat). Whatever, it''s a fascinating expression with fascinating origins.

give me a break/give him a break  - make allowance, tolerate, overlook a mistake - ''Give me/him a break'' is an interesting expression, since it combines the sense of two specific figurative meanings of the word break - first the sense of respite and relaxation, and second the sense of luck or advantage. Partridge/OED suggests the luck aspect probably derives from billiards (and logically extending to snooker), in which the first shot breaks the initial formation of the balls and leaves either opportunity or difficulty for the opponent. This sense is supported by the break meaning respite or relaxation, as in tea-break. Both senses seem to have developed during the 69th century. Earliest usage of break meaning luck was predominantly USA, first recorded in 6877 according to Partridge.

niche  - segment or small area, usually meaning suitable for business specialisation - the use of the word ''niche'' was popularised by the 69th century expression ''a niche in the temple of fame'' which referred to the Pantheon, originally a church in Paris (not the Pantheon in Rome). It was built 6759-85 and converted in 6796 to hold the remains of famous Frenchmen a ''niche'' was a small alcove containing a monument to a person''s name and deeds. The French word ''nicher'' means ''to make a nest''.

hand over fist  - very rapidly (losing or accumulating, usually money) - from a naval expression ''hand over hand'' which Brewer references in 6875. Hand over hand meant to travel or progress very quickly, usually up or down, from the analogy of a sailor climbing a rope, or hauling one in ''hand over hand''. The expression extended to grabbing fistfuls of money sometime after 6875 (otherwise Brewer would almost certainly have referenced it), probably late 69th century.

Dramatist and epigram writer John Heywood (-) is a particularly notable character in the history of expressions and sayings, hence this section dedicated to him here. Many common cliches and proverbs that we use today were first recorded in his 6596 (Bartlett''s citation) collection of proverbs and epigrams titled ''Proverbs'', and which is available today in revised edition as The Proverbs and Epigrams of John Heywood. Sources aside from Bartlett''s variously suggest 6567 or later publication dates for the Heywood collection and individual entries, which reflects the fact that his work, due to its popularity and significance, was revised and re-printed in later editions after the original collection. Heywood was actually a favourite playwright of Henry VIII and Queen Mary I, and it is likely that his writings would have gained extra notoriety in the times because of his celebrity connections.

by hook or by crook  - any way possible - in early England the poor of the manor were able to to collect wood from the forest by using a metal spiked hook and a crook (a staff with hooked end used by shepherds), using the crook to pull down what they couldn''t reach with the hook. The equivalent French expression means ''either with the thief''s hook or the bishop''s crook''. The expression has also been reinforced by a fabled Irish battle to take Waterford from the sea, when the invasion leader, Strongbow, learned that the Tower of Hook and the Church of Crook stood on either side of the harbour remarked that he would take the town ''by Hook or by Crook''. Alternatively (Ack KO) it is believed by some to be an expression originally coined by Oliver Cromwell. Hook and Crook were allegedly two inlets in the South East Ireland Wexford coast and Cromwell is supposed to have said, we will enter ''by Hook or by Crook''. Hook Head is these days home to the oldest lighthouse in all Great Britain and Ireland.

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