By Eric Partridge
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From her stake-burnings of protestant Protestants. blot on the landscape, a . Something that spoils the scenery, disfigures the landscape: late C. 19–20; now often jocularly applied to a person. blow hot and cold, to . To be enthusiastic and then, very soon, apathetic: semi-proverbial: C. 18–20. Recorded in C. 16. Apperson compares a passage in Plautus. See also soon hot, soon cold, in Benham (1936 edition, p. 884a). A dictionary of Clichés 44 blow off steam, to To rid oneself of one’s indignation or superfluous energy: colloquial: from ca.
At long last . Ultimately; at last: C. 20, though Carlyle used it in 1864 and at the long last was current in C. 16–17. *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.
As a matter of fact . In point of fact: C. 19–20. Usually the prelude to a lie—or, at best, an evasion. as a matter of form . As a piece of routine; merely routine: C. 20. ’ A matter of form, ‘a mere formality’, is likewise a cliché. as…as makes no matter . See as makes no matter. ’ As a cliché, since ca. 1850. ‘The frequency of Macaulay’s reference to somewhat abstruse matters as subjects which any public schoolboy would know, has led to his being credited with the phrase. g. Burton, 1621, and Swift.