Oi Polloi to Old as Adam

Oi Polloi properly Hoi Polloi. (Greek.) The commonalty, the many. In University slang the “poll men,” or those who take degrees without “honours.”

Oignement de Bretaigne (French). A sound drubbing. Oignement is a noun corruptly formed from hogner. In Lyons boys called the little cuffs which they gave each other hognes.

“Frére Eleuthere a trenchoisons,
Et j'ay orgement de Bretaigne;
Qui garist de roigne et de taigne.”
Le Martyre de S. Denis, etc., p. 129.

Oignons d'Egypte The flesh-pots of Egypt. Hence “regretter les oignons d'Egypte,” to sigh for the flesh-pots of Egypt, to long for luxuries lost and gone.
   Je plume oignons. I scold or grumble. Also peler des oignons in the same sense. A corruption of hogner, to scold or grumble.

“Grifon. Que fais-tu là?
Braynault. Je plume ongnons.”
La Quarte Journée du Mistere de la Passion.

“Pas ne savoit ongnons peler.”
Villon: Baliade ii.

Oil To strike oil. To make a happy hit or valuable discovery. The phrase refers to hitting upon or discovering a bed of petroleum or mineral oil.

Oil of Palms Money. Huile is French slang for “money,” as will appear from the following quotation:- “Il faudra que vostre bourse fasse les frais de vostre curiosité; il fant de la pecune, il faut de l'huile.” (La Fausse Coquette, ii. 7; 1694.)

Oil on Troubled Waters To pour oil on troubled waters, as a figure of speech, means to soothe the troubled spirit. “A soft answer turneth away wrath.”
   As a physical fact, Professor Horsford, by emptying a vial of oil upon the sea in a stiff breeze, did actually still the ruffled surface. Commodore Wilkes, of the United States, saw the same effect produced in a violent storm off the Cape of Good Hope, by oil leaking from a whale-ship.
   Origin of the phrase: The phrase is mentioned by the Venerable Bede in his Ecelesiastical History written in Latin, and completed in 735. Stapleton translated the book in 1565. St. Aidan, it appears, gave his blessing to a young priest who was to set out by land, but return by water, to convoy a young maiden destined for the bride of King Oswin or Oswy. St. Aidan gave the young man a cruse of oil to pour on the sea if the waves became stormy. A storm did arise, and the young priest, pouring oil on the waves, did actually reduce them to a calm. Bede says he had the story from “a most creditable man in Holy Orders.”
    St. Aidan died in 694, and Bede died in 735. There is no question in archaeology so often asked to be explained as this.

Oil the Knocker (To). To fee the porter. The expression is from Racine, “On n'entre point chez lui sans graisser le marteau” (“No one enters his house without oiling the knocker”). (Les Plaideurs.)

Ointment Money. From the fable De la Vieille qui Oint la Palme au Chevalier (thirteenth century).

“Volebant autem praefati clerici aliquem haberë legatum natio'në Romanum, que unguentis Anglicis, auro scilicet et argento solent ad quaelibet inclinari.”- Gervais de Canterbury: Chronicle; Scriptores decem ii., 1533.

Olaf or Olave (St.). The first Christian king of Norway, slain in battle by his pagan subjects in 1030. He is usually represented in royal attire, bearing the sword or halbert of his martyrdom, and sometimes carrying a loaf of bread, as a rebus on his name, which in Latin is Holofius or Whole-loaf. (Born 995.)

Old Bags John Scott, Lord Eldon; so called from his carrying home with him in different bags the cases still pending his judgment. (1751-1838.)

Old Blade (An). “Un vieux routier” (an old stager), meaning one up to snuff. (See Snuff. )

Old Bona Fide Louis XIV. (1638, 1643-1715).

  By PanEris using Melati.

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