By Eric Partridge
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Extra resources for A Dictionary of Cliches
At one fell swoop . At one blow: C. 19–20. ‘What, all my pretty chickens and their dam,|At one fell swoop’, Shakspeare, Macbeth, IV, iii. v. at your… at one’s last gasp, to be . To be at the point of death; or loosely, to be utterly exhausted: C. 20. e. at one’s last (gasping) breath. A dictionary of clichés A-Z 23 at one’s wit’s (or wits’) end, to be . To be utterly perplexed; at a complete loss what to do: C. 18–20, though common even in C. 16–17. Wit=‘mental capacity’. at (a person’s) own sweet will .
Samuel Wesley († 1739); cf. Matthew, viii. 9. A dictionary of clichés A-Z 21 assume as proved, we must . A legal cliché of C. 19–20. assume heavy responsibilities, to . See heavy responsibilities. g. ‘I was at a loose end’, without anything particular (or planned) to do: colloquial: late C. 19–20. From a horse whose tether has broken or slipped. *at (a person’s) beck and call, to be . Obliged or willing to attend to somebody’s every order, to satisfy his every whim: from ca. 1880. Here, beck is a nod indicative of command.
C. 19–20. Proverbs, xxvi. 5, ‘Answer a fool according to his folly, lest he be wise in his own conceit’—in proportion to his folly, lest he be wise in his own opinion. ) . Perhaps rather a proverbial saying than a (C. 19–20) cliché. Recorded ca. 1780 in Apperson. A dictionary of clichés A-Z 15 apostle of culture, an . One who, missionary-like, does much—and does it very ably—to spread culture: from ca. 1870. There was originally an allusion to Matthew Arnold, whose Culture and Anarchy appeared in 1859.
A Dictionary of Cliches by Eric Partridge