Who is Jack Robinson?

I was reading my dictionary and I came across this phrase: “Before you can say Jack Robinson”, meaning almost instantaneously to be used as follows: Before you can say Jack Robinson, I took the money and ran away. I tried searching it in Wikipedia but it simply says that it’s a mythical person. It doesn’t … Read more

Origin of “quid” in its sense of a sovereign or guinea

What is the etymological origin of quid in its sense of a sovereign or guinea? While preparing the question Origin of “not for quids” phrase I noticed that etymonline’s quid entry merely says “one pound sterling,” 1680s, British slang, possibly from quid “that which is” (c.1600, see quiddity), as used in quid pro quo (q.v.) … Read more

Etymology of “dude” and progression in language

On this one, etymonline really let me down. It says: dude 1883, “fastidious man,” New York City slang of unknown origin. The vogue word of 1883, originally used in reference to the devotees of the “aesthetic” craze, later applied to city slickers, especially Easterners vacationing in the West However, Google Books research shows prior use … Read more

Origin of the phrases “third time’s the charm” and “third time lucky”?

What would the origin of the saying “Third time’s the charm”? I’ve also heard “third time lucky” used as well. Are these two expressions related to each other? Answer I think the origin of these phrases is from Shakespeare’s The Merry Wives of Windsor, 1602: As for which came first, lucky or charm, I found … Read more