FLOTUS (an acronym for ‘First Lady of the United States’), is a slang or jargon term for the wife of an American president, on the model of POTUS (President of the United States) and SCOTUS (Supreme Court of the United States). The latter terms [...]
OED editors are revising the word dialler n. and have researched a previously unrecorded sense, ‘a maker of, or expert in, sundials’, for potential inclusion. In attempting to find the earliest evidence for this sense, we encountered a mystery. Alice Morse Earle’s 1902 book Sun Dials and Roses of Yesterday includes, as an epigraph to Chapter [...]
Bryn provided evidence of an earlier sense, which has now been dated to 1885.
One military slang word from the First World War which has become a core part of modern colloquial English in the UK is skive, meaning ‘to avoid work’. Our first quotation at present is from a 1919 magazine article, which lists ‘some of the most universal and expressive Army terms’: ‘To skive’, to dodge a [...]
Bryn provided evidence from 1909.
Zeppelins, which were widely used for reconnaissance and bombing in the First World War, must have captured the imagination of soldiers, and one of the more colourful phrases originating in the war is ‘Zeppelins (or Zepps) in a cloud’ [...]
Bryn provided evidence from 1918.
Military tanks were a major invention of the First World War: developed during 1915 and first put into commission in 1916, they immediately captured the interest of the public, and tank entered into numerous compounds and phrases. However, we have not found [...]
Hugo provided evidence of ‘trench mouth’ from 1916.
The appalling conditions of the trenches caused various painful medical conditions, including trench foot (swelling and pain in the feet caused by prolonged exposure to damp and cold) and trench mouth (severe inflammation of the mucous membrane of the mouth). The earliest [...]
Bryn provided an example from one day earlier.
The term ‘conscientious objector’, referring to a person who refuses to do something on the grounds of conscience, has been used since the 19th century, but it was not until 1916, with the introduction of conscription in the U.K., that it was used specifically [...]
In 1950, the novelist Raymond Chandler wrote in a letter to Hamish Hamilton: ‘Doesn’t he [i.e. Eric Partridge, the author of many slang dictionaries] overlook some of the most commonly used words of soldier-slang? E.g…”street cars” or “tram cars” for heavy long range shells.’ [...]