Etymology
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salt river (n.)

"a tidal river," 1650s; see salt (n. ) + river. as a proper name, it was used early 19c. with reference to backwoods inhabitants of the U.S., especially those of Kentucky (there is a Salt River in the Bluegrass region of the state; the river is not salty, but salt manufactured from salt licks in the area was shipped down the river). The U.S. political slang phrase to row (someone) up Salt River "send (someone) to political defeat" probably owes its origin to this geographical reference, as the first attested use (1828) is in a Kentucky context. The phrase may also refer to the salt of tears.

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middle passage (n.)

"part of the Atlantic Ocean which lies between the West Indies and the west coast of Africa," 1788, in the agitation against the trans-Atlantic slave trade, from middle (adj.) + passage.

It is clear that none of the unfortunate people, perhaps at this moment on board, can stand upright, but that they must sit down, and contract their limbs within the limits of little more than three square feet, during the whole of the middle passage. I cannot compare the scene on board this vessel, to any other than that of a pen of sheep; with this difference only, that the one have the advantages of a wholesome air, while that, which the others breathe, is putrid. [Thomas Clarkson, "An Essay on the Slavery and Commerce of the Human Species," 1788]
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shaggy (adj.)

"unkempt; having rough, coarse, long hair," 1580s, from shag (n.) + -y (2). Related: Shaggily; shagginess. Earlier was shagged, from Old English sceacgede "hairy;" compare Old Norse skeggjaðr, Danish skægget "bearded." The shaggy-dog story as a type of absurd joke built into a long, tedious story, is attested from 1943 and was a fad in the mid-40s. The origin of the phrase may be in vaudeville; the most-often cited original example involves an Englishman who offers a reward for a lost shaggy dog, an enterprising American who, with great difficulty, tracks him down and offers a shaggy dog that he claims is the one, and his curt reception: "Not that shaggy." But the story does not seem to be older than the phrase.

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world war (n.)

attested by 1898 as a speculation.

If through fear of entangling alliances the United States should return the Philippines to Spain, Mr. Page asserted that the predatory nations would swoop down upon them and a world war would result. [New York Times, Dec. 16, 1898]

Applied to the first one almost as soon as it began in 1914 ("England has Thrown Lot with France in World War" — headline, Pittsburgh Press, Aug. 2, 1914). World War I was coined 1939, replacing Great War as the most common name for it; First World War, World War II, and Second World War all also are from 1939. Old English had woruldgewinn, woruldgefeoht, both of which might be translated "world war," but with "world" in the sense of "earthly, secular."

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dog days (n.)

"period of dry, hot weather at the height of summer," 1530s, from Latin dies caniculares, the idea, though not the phrase, from Greek; so called because they occur around the time of the heliacal rising of Sirius, the Dog Star (kyōn seirios). Noted as the hottest and most unwholesome time of the year; often reckoned as July 3 to August 11, but variously calculated, depending on latitude and on whether the greater Dog-star (Sirius) or the lesser one (Procyon) is reckoned.

The heliacal rising of Sirius has shifted down the calendar with the precession of the equinoxes; in ancient Egypt c. 3000 B.C.E. it coincided with the summer solstice, which also was the new year and the beginning of the inundation of the Nile. The "dog" association apparently began here (the star's hieroglyph was a dog), but the reasons for it are now obscure.

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son of a bitch 

1707 as a direct phrase, but implied much earlier, and Old Norse had bikkju-sonr. Abbreviated form SOB from 1918; form sumbitch attested in writing by 1969.

Abide þou þef malicious!
Biche-sone þou drawest amis
þou schalt abigge it ywis!
["Of Arthour & of Merlin," c. 1330]

"Probably the most common American vulgarity from about the middle of the eighteenth century to the middle of the twentieth" [Rawson].

Our maid-of-all-work in that department [indecency] is son-of-a-bitch, which seems as pale and ineffectual to a Slav or a Latin as fudge does to us. There is simply no lift in it, no shock, no sis-boom-ah. The dumbest policeman in Palermo thinks of a dozen better ones between breakfast and the noon whistle. [H.L. Mencken, "The American Language," 4th ed., 1936, p.317-8]

Elsewhere, complaining of the tepidity of the American vocabulary of profanity, Mencken writes that the toned-down form son-of-a-gun "is so lacking in punch that the Italians among us have borrowed it as a satirical name for an American: la sanemagogna is what they call him, and by it they indicate their contempt for his backwardness in the art that is one of their great glories."

It was in 1934 also that the New York Daily News, with commendable frankness, in reporting a hearing in Washington at which Senator Huey P. Long featured, forsook the old-time dashes and abbreviations and printed the complete epithet "son of a bitch." [Stanley Walker, "City Editor," 1934]
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