Among North American children, ‘cooties’ are an imaginary germ with which a socially undesirable person, or one of the opposite sex, is said to be infected. Our first evidence for this common playground taunt is from 1967, in a children’s novel by Beverly Cleary […]
The phrase ‘to come in from the cold’, meaning ‘(esp. of a spy) to return from isolation, concealment, or exile’, is famous from John le Carré’s 1963 novel “The Spy who Came in from the Cold”. OED editors are currently researching […]
Michael Finney submitted verifiable evidence from 1936.
The first evidence for the metaphorical ‘blue-arsed fly’ in the OED’s entry comes from a 1970 quote attributed to the Duke of Edinburgh. The r-less ‘blue-assed fly’, however, is attested from at least 1932. Why such a discrepancy? […]
Agent Six has provided a verifiable example from 1976.
The sarcastic interjection ‘in your (or my, her, his, etc.) dreams’ is familiar in everyday spoken English, but the earliest evidence our editors have found comes from a Usenet post in 1986. We suspect that it may have been used earlier […]
OED contributor Fred Shapiro has supplied an example from 1970.
The winter festival of Kwanzaa was initiated in 1966 by Maulana Karenga, an African-American activist and scholar, but the earliest example in the OED is from […]