Tag Archives: festivities

Walker

    MEANING   Walker, more fully Hookey (also Hooky) Walker, is an exclamation expressing incredulity. It was first recorded in Lexicon Balatronicum¹. A Dictionary of Buckish Slang, University Wit, and Pickpocket Eloquence (1811): Hookee Walker. An expression signifying that the story is not true, or that the thing will not occur. (¹ balatronicum: from […]

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Shrove Tuesday – le Mardi gras

Shrove Tuesday – le Mardi gras

  le carnaval de la mi-carême, Nantes (France) – photograph: MaxPPP/France-Soir         Shrovetide is the period comprising Quinquagesima Sunday, or Shrove Sunday, and the two following days, Shrove Monday and Shrove Tuesday. It immediately precedes Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent. (Quinquagesima is short for ecclesiastical Latin quinquagesima dies, fiftieth day, because, […]

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jeopardy

jeopardy

  Jeopardy. This word is supposed to be derived from ‘j’ai perdu’, or ‘jeu perdu’. Skinner and Junius. Hazard; danger; Peril. A word not now in use. A Dictionary of the English Language (1785 edition), by Samuel Johnson (1709-84) There are two errors: the noun jeopardy is not from French j’ai perdu (I have lost) or jeu perdu […]

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hobby

hobby

      According to one theory, the noun hobby, in its original sense of a small horse or pony, is from the French noun of same meaning formerly spelt hobin, obin, etc., now aubin. This theory says that this noun is from the French verb hober, to move, derived from the verb hobeler, to […]

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promenade concert

promenade concert

  the Proms (2015) – photograph: BBC       A promenade concert is a concert at which some of the audience stand rather than sit.   In French, promenade is attested in 1599 in the sense of a place for promenading, and in 1671 in that of a leisurely walk. With addition of the […]

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the rub

the rub

  title page of Mr. William Shakespeares Comedies, Histories, & Tragedies (1623)       MEANING   the central problem or difficulty in a situation     ORIGIN   The rub is from The Tragedy of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark (around 1600), by William Shakespeare (1564-1616): To be, or not to be: that is the […]

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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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cock-a-hoop

cock-a-hoop

  cock-throwing in The Four Stages of Cruelty: First Stage of Cruelty (1751) by William Hogarth (1697-1764) - image: Tate Galleries       MEANING   extremely and obviously pleased, especially about an achievement     ORIGIN: UNKNOWN   This adjective is from the 16th-century phrase to set cock a hoop, to set (the) cock on (the) hoop, […]

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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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Twelfth cake

Twelfth cake

    Twelfth Day is the twelfth day after Christmas, 6th January, on which the festival of the Epiphany is celebrated. It was formerly observed as the closing day of the Christmas festivities. (The Epiphany, from Greek epiphainein meaning reveal, is the manifestation of Christ to the Gentiles as represented by the Magi.) Twelfth Night […]

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