By Eric Partridge
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Additional info for A Dictionary of Cliches
20, generally misquoted as big fleas… bird has or had flown . The sought person has (had) decamped: mid C. 19–20. bird of ill omen, a . A person that augurs ill, a ‘Jonah’: C. 19–20. From Roman augury by birds: bonis avibus; malis avibus, ‘with happy omens; with bad omens’ (literally, ‘birds’). ) bird of passage, a . A person always on the move from one place (or country) to another: mid C. 19–20. From migrant birds. *birds of a feather is the cliché-shortening (C. 19–20) of the proverb, ‘birds of a feather flock together’ (C.
18–20. —Cf. et in Arcadia ego vixi. Argus-eyed . Sharp-sighted and extremely watchful: mid C. 19–20; slightly obsolescent. Argus: a mythological person with a hundred eyes. *armed to the teeth . Fully armed; fully equipped for war or for a particular battle: from ca. 1840. ) arrangements (esp. suitable arrangements) have been made . There have been preparations; it is prepared: late C. 19–20. A dictionary of Clichés 18 artful deceiver, an . A cunning wheedler (or attractive swindler); often jocular: mid C.
To be in a state of confusion, disorder, or neglect: late C. 18–20. From dicing. at the cross-roads . At a critical point in one’s career or spiritual life: from ca. 1890. —Cf. Meredith’s Diana of the Crossways, 1883. *at the end of one’s tether, to be . To be unable, physically, financially, or mentally, to do anything more to relieve the situation: C. 19–20. ) A dictionary of Clichés 24 at the first blush . At the first glance; at first sight (but not on detailed examination): C. 19–20, though fairly common in C.
A Dictionary of Cliches by Eric Partridge