Argy-bargy is British slang with the meaning ‘noisy quarrelling’.
The word appears to come from an earlier form, ‘argle-bargle’, which originated in Scotland. The first part of the doublet is a modification of the word ‘argue’ and the second part is nonsense rhyming. Oxford lists the plural as argy-bargies.
This type of playful language is known [more…]
If someone calls you a pompous old fuddy-duddy you will no doubt take offense.
This term meaning stuffy and old-fashioned might well sound like a stuffy old-fashioned expression, but it has only been around for a short time really – well around 100 years, which is recent when you think that so much of our [more…]
We clue this variously as ‘Alfred the Great’s kingdom’, ‘Thomas Hardy’s fictional area’ or even ‘Prince Edward, Earl of …’. So what or where is Wessex? The story of Wessex is really the story of the beginning of England.
Wessex was the Kingdom of the West Saxons, founded around AD 500 by Cerdic. The kingdom [more…]
A Lazy Susan is a revolving tray in the middle of the dining table for easy access to condiments and shared dishes.
What a strange name for this turntable that became fashionable in the early 20th century.
If your name is Susan, I am sure you are not lazy, but you are probably interested in the [more…]
English abounds with similes in the form of ‘as x as a y’ but where did this one come from?
The answer is not clear, but the expression has been around since before Shakespeare (and the good Bard used it in Henry IV).
Quite possibly ‘as dead as a doornail’ has survived down the centuries because it [more…]
This means in a sudden move or all at once but started out with more sinister connotations.
The expression is often wrongly quoted as ‘one foul swoop’, or even ‘one fowl swoop’, but it doesn’t relate to chickens.
In Shakespeare’s Macbeth, Macduff on hearing of the death of his family says;
All my pretty ones?
Did you say [more…]
Lady Godiva is renowned for riding through the streets of Coventry naked! What is less known however, is why such a pious woman would do such a thing.
Lady Godgifu, her real name, was married to Leofric, the Earl of Mercia. She was a beautiful woman who cared greatly for the people of Coventry [more…]