Month: August 2019

moxie

If you have “moxie,” you have pep, courage, guts, nerve, know-how, determination, attitude, stamina, and aggressiveness. The word comes from Moxie, a non-alcoholic drink first produced by the Moxie Nerve Food Company of Massachusetts around 1884 as “nerve food” syrup. The founder, Dr. Augustin Thompson, developed it as a patent medicine, claiming it cured paralysis, loss of manhood, and softening…

upset the apple cart

“To upset the apple cart” means to create a difficulty or spoil carefully laid plans. This phrase is first recorded by Jeremy Belknap in The History of New Hampshire, 1788: “Adams had almost overset the apple-cart by intruding an amendment of his own fabrication on the morning of the day of ratification” [of the Constitution]. In the 1800s “apple cart”…

chuffed

The current meaning of “chuffed” is: delighted, pleased, satisfied. Norman W. Schur’s British English A to Zed (2001) says: “This curious bit of antiquated army slang has two diametrically opposite meanings, depending on the context. One can say chuffed pink (tickled pink) to mean ‘pleased’ or dead chuffed to mean ‘displeased’ or ‘choked’.” The Oxford English Dictionary agrees. When it…

right off the bat

“Right off the bat” means done in a hurry, without delay. Similar phrases are: lickety-split   and as fast as greased lightning. The phrase likely arose from baseball, where, after a successful hit, the batter takes immediate action and runs to first base. In newspapers of the 1880s, the expression was used both in relation to baseball, but also in…

mollycoddle

“Mollycoddle” means to spoil or overindulge someone, an extreme form of “coddle.” The word “coddle” has a long history. It was recorded in print in Jane Austen’s Emma: “Be satisfied with doctoring and coddling yourself.” But before that it may have meant to “boil gently” as in coddling an egg. When I was a kid, I always wondered how to…

gobsmacked

“Gobsmacked” means flabbergasted, astounded, speechless, overawed, or stopped dead in your tracks. In other words, your emotion is much stronger than mere surprise. “Gobsmacked” is a combination of the northern English and Scottish slang term gob, mouth, with the verb smack. An example is: “I was utterly gobsmacked to hear that a 22-year-old woman from America has put her virginity…

one-off

A “one-off” is something that is one of a kind or only happens once. The phrase “one-off” originated in Britain in the 1930s. The Oxford English Dictionary defines the term “one-off” as an adjective (meaning “made or done as the only one of its kind; unique, not repeated”), and as a noun for such a product. A one-off is just…