From action stations to zero tolerance, via cloud nine, free and easy, iron curtain, monkey business, politically correct and up for it, the English language abounds in strange and colourful expressions. But where do these phrases come from? And how did they get their modern meaning?
Leading lexicographer Robert Allen has undertaken a massive survey of this fascinating area, investigating and dating thousands of phrases, and providing citations from a wide range of sources. Here, for example, you'll discover that salad days comes from Shakespeare's Antony and Cleopatra, that flavour of the month originates in 1940s American ice-cream marketing and that we've been calling a spade a spade since the sixteenth century. Cutting through the myths and leaving browsers in seventh heaven, this is the essential book for anyone intrigued by the quirks of language that we use every day.
- Gives the meanings, dates and historical origins of thousands of phrases
- Arranges phrases alphabetically by keyword, such as 'heaven' and 'spade', to aid location
- Provides examples of usage ranging from the Venerable Bede to Will Self - Includes citations from literature, journalism, published letters, diaries and speeches