Etymology
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jeu d'esprit (n.)
"a witticism," 1712, from French, from jeu "play, game," from Latin jocum "jest, joke, play, sport" (see joke (n.)).
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lusus naturae (n.)
in natural history, "freak of nature," 1660s, a Latin phrase, from lusus "a play," from stem of ludere "to play" (see ludicrous) + genitive of natura (see nature (n.)). Originally of fossils, before there was a scientific basis for understanding their existence.
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dramatis personae 

"the characters in a play," Latin for "persons of a drama." From the genitive of Late Latin drama and the plural of persona.

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mise en scene 

"the entire scenery and properties of a stage play," 1830, from French mise en scène, literally "setting on the stage," from mise (13c.) "a putting, placing," noun use of fem. past participle of mettre "to put, place," from Latin mittere "to send" (see mission). Hence, figuratively, "the surroundings of an event" (1872).

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merry widow 

"amorous or designing widow," 1907, from the English title of Franz Lehar's operetta "Die Lustige Witwe" (1905). "The Lusty Widow" would have been more etymological (see lust (n.)), but would have given the wrong impression in English. Meaning "a type of wide-brimmed hat" (popularized in the play) is attested from 1908.

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Roman holiday (n.)

"occasion on which entertainment or profit is derived from injury or death of another," 1860, originally in reference to holidays for gladiatorial combat; the expression seems to be entirely traceable to an oft-quoted passage on a dying barbarian gladiator from the fourth canto (1818) of Byron's "Childe Harold's Pilgrimage":

But where his rude hut by the Danube lay
There were his young barbarians all at play,
There was their Dacian mother. He, their sire,
Butcher'd to make a Roman holiday!
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seven-year itch (n.)
1899, American English, some sort of skin condition (sometimes identified with poison ivy infection) that either lasts seven years or returns every seven years. Jocular use for "urge to stray from marital fidelity" is attested from 1952, as the title of the Broadway play (made into a film, 1955) by George Axelrod (1922-2003), in which the lead male character reads an article describing the high number of men have extra-marital affairs after seven years of marriage.
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violon d'Ingres (n.)

"an occasional pastime, an activity other than that for which one is well-known, or at which one excells," 1963, from French, literally "Ingres' violin," from the story that the great painter preferred to play his violin (badly) for visitors instead of showing them his pictures.

Une légende, assez suspecte, prétend que le peintre Ingres état plus fier de son jeu sur le violon, jeu qui était fort ordinaire, que de sa peinture, qui l'avait rendu illustre. [Larousse du XXe Siecle, 1931]
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bitter end (n.)

In lexicons of sea language going back to 1759, the bitter end is the part of a cable which is round about the bitts (the two great timbers used to belay cables) when the ship is at anchor (see bitt).

Bitter end of the Cable, the End which is wound about the Bitts. ["The News-Readers Pocket-Book: Or, a Military Dictionary," London, 1759]

So, when a cable is played out to the bitter end, there is no more left to play. The term began to be used c. 1835 in non-nautical use and with probable influence of or merger with bitter (adj.).

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cloud nine (n.)
by 1950, sometimes also cloud seven (1956, perhaps by confusion with seventh heaven), American English, of uncertain origin or significance. Some connect the phrase with the 1895 International Cloud-Atlas (Hildebrandsson, Riggenbach and Teisserenc de Bort), long the basic source for cloud shapes, in which, of the ten cloud types, cloud No. 9, cumulonimbus, was the biggest, puffiest, most comfortable-looking. Shipley suggests the sense in this and other expressions might be because, "As the largest one-figure integer, nine is sometimes used for emphasis." The phrase might appear in the 1935 aviation-based play "Ceiling Zero" by Frank Wilbur Wead.
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