Tag Archives: colours

cockroach

    MEANING   A beetle-like scavenging insect with long antennae and legs. Several tropical kinds have become established worldwide as household pests.     ORIGIN   This noun first appeared in the form cacarootch in The generall historie of Virginia, New-England, and the Summer Isles (1624), by John Smith (1580-1631), soldier and colonial governor. […]

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leap year

leap year

  The month of February in Poor Robin Almanack for 1796 (Sundays, Christian festivals and saints’ days are marked in red.)       MEANING   a year, occurring once every four years, which has 366 days including 29th February as an intercalary day     ORIGIN   The name leap year refers to the […]

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‘onyx’

‘onyx’

  photograph: Health This Year      MEANING   a semi-precious variety of agate with different colours in layers     ORIGIN   Via Anglo-Norman and Old French forms such as onix and onice (Modern French onyx), the English word is from Latin onyx/onych-. This Latin noun is from Greek ὄνυξ/ὀνυχ- (onux/onukh-), which literally meant […]

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green man

green man

  This character, which is that of a wild or savage man, was very common in the pageants of former times, and seems to have been very popular. from The Sports and Pastimes of the People of England, by Joseph Strutt (edited by William Hone – 1838)       PAGEANTS   In Tudor and […]

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cordon bleu

cordon bleu

  cross and blue ribbon of the order of the Holy Ghost (18th century) photograph: Réunion des Musées Nationaux – Grand Palais       The French noun cordon denotes a ribbon, usually worn scarf-wise, as part of the insignia of a knightly order. The cordon bleu (the blue ribbon) was the sky-blue ribbon worn by […]

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Bloody Mary

Bloody Mary

  Advertisement in the magazine Life – 17th March 1961 The Bloody María (anything vodka can do, Ronrico Rum can do better) The difference between a Bloody Mary and a Bloody María is the difference between Mary and María. María is Mary set to music. A Bloody María is easy to make. Simply use Ronrico […]

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red-letter day

red-letter day

  Calendar page for December from an illuminated Book of Hours (circa 1460). Special feasts are marked out in red ink. Photograph: University of Glascow Amongst the notable feasts for December, as shown here, are Saint Nicholas (December 6), the Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary (December 8) and Saint Nicasius (December 14). To the […]

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blue blood

blue blood

  The Third Estate carrying the Clergy and the Nobility on its back (late 18th-century French print) – Bibliothèque nationale de France A faut esperer q’eu.s jeu la finira bentot (= Il faut espérer que ce jeu-là finira bientôt, You should hope that this game will be over soon)       After the Reconquista, […]

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to blackball

to blackball

  Mary Delany (née Granville) – 1782 – by John Opie photograph: National Portrait Gallery         MEANINGS   – To reject a candidate applying to become a member of a club or other society by means of a secret ballot. – To exclude someone from society, a profession, etc.; to ostracise.   […]

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ballot

ballot

  Palazzo Ducale, Sala del Senato - Venice, Italy Brooklyn Museum Archives - Goodyear Archival Collection     Ballotta, a rounde bullet. Also a voice or lot. Ballottare, to choose, to cast or draw lots with bullets as they use in Venice. A Worlde of Wordes, Or Most copious, and exact Dictionarie in Italian and English (1598) by […]

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