By Eric Partridge
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Extra resources for A Dictionary of Cliches
20 and late C. 19–20. belted earl, a . An earl; an aristocrat: mid C. 19–20; in C. 20, often jocular. Belted refers to that cincture which distinguishes an earl. A dictionary of clichés A-Z 35 beneath contempt . Utterly contemptible: from ca. 1870. benefit of the doubt, the ; esp. to give someone the benefit…, to treat him as innocent because, though there is doubt, he has not been proved guilty: from ca. 1890. From the law-courts. ’ Late C. 19–20. ’ Our plans often miscarry: late C. 18–20. Robert Burns, To a Mouse, 1785; the quotation is concluded thus, ‘And lea’e us nought but grief and pain|For promised joy’.
19–20. Cain was the first fratricide, indeed the first murderer, to be mentioned in the Bible (Genesis, iv. 15, ‘Posuitque Dominus Cain signum’). brave and the fair, the . Heroes (actual or potential) and lovely women: late C. —Cf. the next. *brave men and fair women . : mid C. 1920.
Many French phrases became popular in England ca. ) auspicious occasion ; esp. on this… At this happy time; on this important social occasion: public speakers’: late C. 19–20. ) . Ability of the prevalent standard: C. 20. ’ avoid… See plague. awkward alternative, an . An embarrassing alternative: late C. —Cf. the next. A dictionary of Clichés 26 awkward fix, an (colloquial); an awkward predicament . An embarrassing, unpleasant, or even dangerous predicament: C. 20. *axe to grind, an ; esp. to have no…, to be disinterested.
A Dictionary of Cliches by Eric Partridge