Today seems like a good day for interesting words and phrases I’ve come across lately, but which don’t have interesting histories. Or if they do, I couldn’t find them!
Backstabber — a trusted person who attacks when one’s back is turned.
Cock of the walk — a man who acts as if he’s more important than other people.
Settle some-one’s hash — to get even; get revenge.
A leopard can’t change its spots — people can’t change who they are.
Pain in the butt — a very annoying thing or person.
Hitch your wagon to a star — aim high. If you hitch your wagon to a horse, you’ll always stay grounded. If you hitch it to a star, who knows where it could take you?
Asleep at the switch — unprepared, inattentive. American railway terminology, from the time when railroad switches were thrown or turned by levers operated by hand, either by switch-tenders or brakemen.
Curmudgette — female curmudgeon. Specializes in complaining about the weather. Not in the dictionary, but too good not to share.
Greet — to come in contact with, from Old English gretan. It still can mean “weep or grieve” in Scottish & northern England dialect, though it may be from a different root.