Corpus linguistics : investigating language structure and by Douglas Biber; Susan Conrad; Randi Reppen

By Douglas Biber; Susan Conrad; Randi Reppen

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There are several synonymous usages, among them big gun, big shot, and big wheel. The first dates from the 1830s. ” The last two expressions both date from the 1930s. big deal An important matter; also, so what, who cares. The differentiation between these two phrases depends on the speaker’s tone. ” This sense can also be conveyed by no big deal. All three usages date from about 1940. big fish in a small pond An individual who is important or prominent only in a small group. This cliché, of American provenance, is used both disparagingly (“He’s the firm’s general counsel, but since there are only three employees he’s just a big fish in a small pond”) and more positively (“She didn’t get accepted to the university, but it’s better to be a big fish in a small pond than a small fish in a big pond”).

A slightly different version, be as be may, is found in Chaucer (The Monk’s Tale) and persisted for four or five centuries. bet one’s bottom dollar, one can One may be very certain of something. Bottom here means last, or the bottom of a pile of gambling chips. An American colloquialism of the mid-nineteenth century, the phrase became a cliché in the mid-twentieth century. better half, my My spouse, usually referring to one’s wife. The term dates from the sixteenth century and originally signified a close friend or lover.

That’ll shake the daylights out of us,” wrote Emerson Bennett (Mike Fink, 1852). Another writer referred to “pulling out” a mule’s daylights by beating it, and mystery writers of the early twentieth century sometimes had their characters “shoot the daylights” out of someone. Earlier British versions are to beat black and blue (Shakespeare), beat to a jelly (Smollett), and the equally hyperbolic beat to a pulp. Another American 25 BEAT TO THE PUNCH/DRAW synonym is to beat the tar out of, which unlike the other fairly graphic equivalents is more puzzling, but has been used since about 1800.

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