By Eric Partridge
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Extra info for A Dictionary of Cliches
A dictionary of clichés A-Z 45 blunt instrument, a . A detective-story writers’ cliché, dating from ca. 1920. A very vague phrase, covering anything from a club to a spanner. ‘blushing honours thick upon him’ ; usually, he bears his…; occasionally, with his… A cliché of C. 19–20. From Shakespeare, King Henry VIII, III, ii. bolt from the blue, a . A figurative thunderbolt from a blue sky; a blow, a misfortune that is unexpected, unannounced: mid C. 19–20. bonds . See holy matrimony. bone of contention, a .
20. *axe to grind, an ; esp. to have no…, to be disinterested. Recorded in 1811, it became a cliché in mid C. 19. A dictionary of clichés A-Z 27 B back the wrong horse, to (colloquial) . To support the wrong cause, uphold the wrong man: from ca. 1860. back to the wall ; esp. to have one’s back to the wall or stand with one’s… C. 19–20, but especially since Haig’s famous backs to the wall order of 1918. *bag and baggage . With all one’s impedimenta: 1552, Huloet; it became a stock phrase in C. 18.
1880. ) blood and treasure . See expense of… A dictionary of clichés A-Z 43 blood-curdling yell, a . A horrible and/or eery yell: late C. 19–20. A requisite in shockers and melodramas. ’ Since ca. 1890. Henley, Invictus). bloody Mary . Mary, Queen of England: a Protestant cliché: C. 19–20. Thomas Hood the Elder, (of coins) ‘Now stamped with the image of good Queen Bess,|And now of a Bloody Mary’. From her stake-burnings of protestant Protestants. blot on the landscape, a . Something that spoils the scenery, disfigures the landscape: late C.