Category Archives: Etymology

Origin of XOXO: XO Hugs and Kisses Symbols

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Acid Test Ratio & Acid Test Etymology

Acid Test Meaning In the world of finance and banking, the term “acid test ratio” is a number that tells you about the financial integrity of the company. It tells you how likely a company is to pay its short-term … Continue reading

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Why do we say butter wouldn’t melt in his mouth?

The phrase “butter wouldn’t melt in his mouth” is one of the most misunderstood phrases in the English language. Some people think it is used to mean that a person is sweet and innocent whilst others are adamant that it … Continue reading

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“In a nutshell” Meaning and Origin

The idiom, “in a nutshell” is used when you want to say that the description you’re giving is concise, to-the-point and brief. It is the information boiled down to its simplest form. The question is: where do nuts enter this … Continue reading

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Eat your heart out: Meaning and Phrase Origin

Today, whilst making an observation about the imaginative talents of youtuber John Green for his creatively named computer-game football team, the Swindon Town Swoodilypoopers, my companion laughingly said “Eat your heart out Dr Seuss!”. Mid-laugh I suddenly realised what he’d … Continue reading

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Etymology of Toast: Why is it called a toast?

A toast is a piece of lightly scorched bread, right? So why do we call the raising of our glasses at events like weddings, a toast? Toasted bread and raising a wine glass in a toast really do have more … Continue reading

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Meaning of Place Names: Why do we call places by certain names?

Behind every name is a story, and this goes for place names too. Although each individual place has a unique specific definition, there are some common components and terms for the names of English-speaking cities, towns and settlements. Knowing the … Continue reading

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Jack cards: Why are Jacks called Jacks?

Have you ever played cards and suddenly wondered why we call the Jack cards Jacks? It seems a bit strange and out of place considering the other picture cards are a King and a Queen. Why not call it a … Continue reading

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Smart Alec Origin: Why do we say someone’s a Smart Alec?

We’ve all known Smart Alecs in our time. And most of us have been Smart Alecs at least once in our lives too! It’s those moments when you take joy in sharing something clever you’ve learned and inadvertently come off … Continue reading

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By the seat of your pants: Why do I say that I fly by the seat of my pants?

Whether we’re going into an exam or a meeting unprepared, or whether we are blagging our way through a conversation where we’re trying to seem knowledgeable about a subject we haven’t studied in great depth, we know we’re flying by … Continue reading

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