Etymology
Advertisement
big shot (n.)
"important person," 1929, American English, from Prohibition-era gangster slang; earlier in the same sense was great shot (1861). Ultimately a reference to large type of gunshot; see shot (n.).
Related entries & more 
Advertisement
go down (v.)
c. 1300, "droop, descend," from go (v.) + down (adv.). Meaning "decline, fail" is from 1590s. Sense of "to happen" is from 1946, American-English slang. Go down on "perform oral sex on" is from 1916.
Related entries & more 
knock up (v.)

1660s, "arouse by knocking at the door," from knock (v.) + up (adv.). However it is little used in this sense in American English, where the phrase means "get a woman pregnant" (1813), possibly ultimately from knock in a sense "to copulate with" (1590s; compare slang knocking-shop "brothel," 1860).

Knocked up in the United States, amongst females, the phrase is equivalent to being enciente, so that Englishmen often unconsciously commit themselves when amongst our Yankee cousins. [John Camden Hotten, "The Slang Dictionary," London, 1860]
Related entries & more 
charley horse (n.)
1887, sporting slang, origin obscure, probably from somebody's long-forgotten lame racehorse. Charley horse seems to have been a name for a horse or a type of horse (perhaps especially a lame one) around that time.
Related entries & more 
white bread (n.)
c. 1300, as opposed to darker whole-grain type, from white (adj.) + bread (n.). Its popularity among middle-class America led to the slang adjectival sense of "conventional, bourgeois" (c. 1980). Old English had hwitehlaf.
Related entries & more 
Advertisement
gun moll (n.)
"female criminal," 1908, second element from nickname of Mary, used of disreputable females since early 1600s; first element from slang gonif "thief" (1885), from Yiddish, from Hebrew gannabh "thief" (compare gonoph); influenced by gun (n.).
Related entries & more 
gandy dancer 
"railroad maintenance worker," 1918, American English slang, of unknown origin; dancer perhaps from movements required in the work of tamping down ties or pumping a hand-cart, gandy perhaps from the name of a machinery belt company in Baltimore, Maryland.
Related entries & more 
life of Riley (n.)

"life at ease," by 1902 (as Reilly), popularized in U.S. during World War I; it seems to have been military slang initially, sometimes said to trace to various songs but none of that title has been found.

Related entries & more 
Tin Pan Alley (n.)
"hit song writing business," 1907, from tin pan, slang for "a decrepit piano" (1882). The original one was "that little section of Twenty-eighth Street, Manhattan, that lies between Broadway and Sixth Avenue," home to many music publishing houses.
Related entries & more 
big time (n.)
"upper reaches of a profession or pursuit," by 1909 in vaudeville slang. As an adjective by 1915. The same phrase was common in colloquial use late 19c.-early 20c. in a broad range of senses: "party, shindig, fun, frolic."
Related entries & more 

Page 2