What is the origin of the minced oath “Jiminy”?

Jiminy, by jiminy, jumpin’ jiminy etc —used as a mild oath often in the phrases by jiminy, jiminy crickets, jiminy Christmas -Merriam Webster In a more innocent age, and long before the ubiquitous present-day usage of "fuck" as an expletive, there used to be some rather quaint expressions to express surprise, or shock. Among these … Read more

What is the origin of the phrase, “That’s for me to know and you to find out”?

I was just watching the preview for Blue Velvet (1986) and heard Kyle McLachlan use the phrase: “That’s for me to know, and you to find out”. I assume the phrase is probably older than that movie, but I can’t find anything on the internet saying when and where it originated. Answer Early Elephind newspaper … Read more

Origin of “Third Age”

A recent question on ELU made me realize that the idea of “Third Age” as defined below is used mainly in BrE and other European languages, while AmE speakers appear to be unfamiliar with it. the period of time that is after middle age and before old age, when people are still active. (MacMillan Dictionary) … Read more

How many birds in the bush?

There is a well known proverb, A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush However, I have discovered that the earliest English version of this proverb according to phrases.org.uk is found in John Capgrave’s The Life of St Katharine of Alexandria, 1450: “It is more sekyr [certain] a byrd in your fest, … Read more

Where does ‘talking through your hat’ come from?

I’ve looked it up on phrases.org.uk, which gives the following quote as the first usage: This began life in the USA, in the late 19th century, with a slightly different meaning from the present one. It then meant to bluster. Farmer and Henley Slang and Its Analogues, 1888: “Dis is only a bluff dey’re makin’ … Read more

History, origin & usage of term ‘Showroom’ instead of shop/ store/ storefront?

History, origin & usage of term ‘Showroom’ instead of shop/ store/ storefront? How/ where did it come about? Who came up with it? Answer The OED confirms the Merriam Webster assertion of 1616. It gives in all three senses of the word but I believe the one you are looking for is sense 1. But … Read more

Why have Jack or John have been used as euphemisms to refer to a toilet in particular?

I was watching an American show called Breaking Bad and they use this phrase: Can I use your John’s? to mean Can I use your toilet? As it stands the origin has been mentioned here, courtesy to @Jason Bassford and @user067531 in the comments below, but I feel it doesn’t adequately discuss why the particular … Read more

…down the primrose path

What is the origin of primrose used in the idiom primrose path, as defined by the Oxford Online Dictionary? primrose path The pursuit of pleasure, especially when it is seen to bring disastrous consequences. [Lexico] Merriam-Webster‘s entry has sexual allusions a path of ease or pleasure and especially sensual pleasure The phrase is credited to … Read more

Where did “a racist bone in [one’s] body” and “a mean bone in [one’s] body” come from?

A recent tweet by the U.S. president includes this assurance: I don’t have a Racist bone in my body! A blog post by David Graham, "The One Color the White House Sees Clearly" at The Atlantic Online offers this commentary on the history of the expression "doesn’t have a racist bone in [one’s] body": As … Read more