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Eat crow

To eat crow means to admit a humiliating error one has made, to concede a humiliating defeat. Crow is an unappetizing food, even listed in the book of Leviticus in the Bible as an animal that is not to be eaten. The phrase appears around 1850 in the United States, and is presumed to have been derived from a story that appeared in the Saturday Evening Post in 1850, about a farmer who is challenged by his boarders to eat a crow. The original phrase was to eat boiled crow. Today the term has been … [Read more...]

Dumpster fire

Dumpster fire describes a situation which has been terribly mishandled, resulting in a disastrously chaotic outcome. Dumpster fire describes a situation that is already a mess, then is made worse by being set afire, figuratively. The origin of the term dumpster fire is uncertain. Many believe that it was first used on American sports talk radio around 2009, though a 2003 movie review in The Arizona Republic uses the term to mean something "stinky but insignificant". The term dumpster fire has … [Read more...]

Dialogue vs dialog

A dialogue is a conversation between two or more characters in a book, play or movie or a conversation between two or more people in real life, especially when they are working together on a particular project or problem. In North America, dialogue is also used as a verb to mean to take part in a conversation in order to work toward a resolution of a particular problem or particular project. Related words are dialogues, dialogued, dialoguing. Dialog is an alternative spelling of the word … [Read more...]

Continental breakfast

A continental breakfast is a light breakfast that usually consists of coffee or tea and a serving of bread or rolls. The earliest example of the term continental breakfast dates from the 1850s. The continental breakfast originated as the type of breakfast traditionally offered in European hotels, in opposition to the type of breakfast offered in the British Isles, the British fry up. This British fry up was a breakfast usually consisting of sausage, bacon, eggs, fried bread, tomatoes and baked … [Read more...]

Bluetooth

Bluetooth is a wireless technology that affords short-range connections between electronic devices via UHF radio waves. The word Bluetooth may be used as a noun or as a transitive verb, which is a verb that takes an object. Related words are Bluetooths, Bluetoothed, Bluetoothing. Derived from the medieval Danish king Harald Blåtand, or Harold Bluetooth, it is a trademarked name. Currently, according to the Oxford English Dictionary, the word Bluetooth is capitalized as it is a trademarked name. … [Read more...]

On the q.t.

On the q.t. means doing something secretly. The q.t. in the phrase on the q.t. is an abbreviation of the word quiet. The term originated in the mid-1800s, there is some debate on whether the phrase on the q.t. is of American or English origin. At this time, the oldest examples of the phrase on the q.t. are found in British media, though it is the Americans who had a penchant in the 1800s for coining abbreviations. While the Oxford English Dictionary lists the phrase with lowercase letters and … [Read more...]

Behest vs bequest

A behest is an order or an authoritative request, a command. Behest is a noun and is almost always used in the phrase structure at someone's behest, as in at his behest, at your behest, at my behest. The word behest is derived from the Old English word behæs which means a vow. A bequest is a legacy, something that is willed to a beneficiary. Bequest may also be used to mean the act of leaving something to a beneficiary in a will. The word bequest is derived from the Old English word … [Read more...]

Harridan and harpy

A harridan is a woman who is known for scolding others, for being belligerent, for being bossy. A harridan is usually an old woman.  The word harridan first appears in the 1700s to describe a whore or loose woman who is losing her charms. It is assumed that the word harridan is derived from the French word haridelle, which means old, broken-down horse. A harpy is a grasping, angry woman, a woman known for scolding others, a shrew. The word harpy is derived from the monsters from Ancient Greek … [Read more...]

Steal someone’s thunder

To steal someone's thunder means to steal the attention from that person, usually by using that person's idea to gain attention or approval. Interestingly, the origin of the idiom steal someone's thunder can be pinpointed to an exact moment in time, 1704. The original use of the phrase steal someone's thunder was quite literal. John Dennis was an unsuccessful playwright, his production Appius and Virginia was unremarkable except for his invention of a new method for producing the sound of … [Read more...]

Jejune

Jejune may mean 1.) simple, unsophisticated, naive 2.) superficial 3.) uninteresting, insipid 4.) insubstantial, unsatisfying 5.) without nourishment. Jejune is an adjective, related words are jejunely, jejuneness. The word jejune first came into the English language in the 1600s from the Latin word jejunus which means empty stomach. At that time, the primary definition of jejune was fasting. Within time jejune took on the figurative meaning of something insubstantial or unsatisfying. From … [Read more...]

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