HomeElusive Allusions

Choose the correct description for each allusion.

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Complete the sentences with appropriate allusions from the previous task.

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Notice that the descriptions of the allusions in TASK 1 are examples of good paraphrasing. Now, simplify the paraphrases using no more than two words for each blank.

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Visit Oxford Dictionaries and search for similar phrases to to blackball sb. Beware of the register because some of the phrases are informal.
  • leave out in the cold, give the cold shoulder to, to cold-shoulder
  • to drum sb out (with allusion to the formal military drum beat accompanying dismissal from a regiment)
  • expel from, dismiss from, discharge from, throw out of, oust from, drive out of, get rid of, thrust out of, push out of, exclude from, banish from
  • (informal) give sb the boot, boot out, kick out, give sb their marching orders, give sb the bullet, give sb the push, show sb the door, send packing
  • Early 16th century: from Babel, where, according to the biblical story, God made the builders all speak different languages. Babel from Hebrew Bāḇel 'Babylon', from Akkadian bāb ili 'gate of god'.
  • Tower of Babel: (In the Bible) a tower built in an attempt to reach heaven, which God frustrated by making its builders speak different languages so that they could not understand one another (Genesis 11:1–9).
  • Late 18th century: from the practice of registering an adverse vote by placing a black ball in a ballot box.
  • Late 19th century: translation of Greek Nephelokokkugia, the name of the city built by the birds in Aristophanes' comedy Birds, from nephelē 'cloud' + kokkux 'cuckoo'.
  • Early 16th century: from late Latin, from Latin cornu copiae 'horn of plenty' (a mythical horn able to provide whatever is desired).
  • Copious is from Latin copia ‘plenty’, also found in the symbol of fruitfulness the cornucopia (late 16th century) or ‘horn of plenty’, and in copy (Late Middle English). The radical change of meaning from the Latin came about because copia had a secondary meaning of ‘permission, licence, opportunity’. Latin phrases such as copiam describendi facere ‘permission to make a transcription’ led to copia being used in medieval Latin to mean a copy.
  • Mid 16th century: modern Latin, literally 'foolish fire' (because of its erratic movement).
  • Early 17th century: originally as Will with the wisp, the sense of wisp being 'handful of (lighted) hay'.
Choose the correct description for each allusion.

This quiz is for logged in users only.


Complete the sentences with appropriate allusions from the previous task.

This quiz is for logged in users only.


Simplify the paraphrases using no more than two words for each blank.

This quiz is for logged in users only.


Visit Oxford Dictionaries and check the meanings of these phrases:
  • TO BOWDLERISE ~ make cuts to, delete parts of, make deletions in; make presentable, make acceptable, make palatable, water down; (informal) clean up
  • TO KOWTOWprostrate oneself, bow down before, do/make obeisance, fall on sb's knees before, get down on sb's knees before, kneel before; throw oneself at sb's feet, fall down before sb, bow and scrape; pay homage, show reverence, show deference, humble oneself before sb
  • 1950s: from the name of the head of state in George Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four (1949)
  • Mid 19th century: from the name of Dr Thomas Bowdler (1754–1825), who published an expurgated edition of Shakespeare in 1818, + -ize.
  • The main diaspora began in the 8th–6th centuries bc, and even before the sack of Jerusalem in ad 70 the number of Jews dispersed by the diaspora was greater than that living in Israel. Thereafter, Jews were dispersed even more widely throughout the Roman world and beyond.
  • Greek, from diaspeirein 'disperse', from dia 'across'+ speirein 'scatter'. The term originated in the Septuagint (Deuteronomy 28:25) in the phrase esē diaspora en pasais basileias tēs gēs 'thou shalt be a dispersion in all kingdoms of the earth'.
  • The word dialogue comes via Old French and Latin from Greek dialogos, from dialegesthai ‘converse with, speak alternately’: the formative elements are dia- ‘through, across’ and legein ‘speak’. The tendency in English is to confine the sense to a conversation between two people, perhaps by associating the prefix dia- with di-. Dia- is also found in diameter (Late Middle English) ‘the measure across’; diaphanous (early 17th century) ‘shows through’; diaphragm (Late Middle English) a barrier that is literally a ‘fence through’, and diaspora (late 19th century) a scattering across.
  • Early 19th century: from Chinese kētóu, from  'knock' + tóu 'head'.
  • A stream in north-eastern Italy which marked the ancient boundary between Italy and Cisalpine Gaul. Julius Caesar led his army across it into Italy in 49 bc, breaking the law forbidding a general to lead an army out of his province, and so committing himself to war against the Senate and Pompey. The ensuing civil war resulted in victory for Caesar after three years.
Choose the correct description for each allusion.

This quiz is for logged in users only.


Complete the sentences with appropriate allusions from the previous task.

This quiz is for logged in users only.


Paraphrase the meanings of the allusions, using only one word for each blank.

This quiz is for logged in users only.


  • Keats' 'Ode to a Nightingale' refers to 'the sad heart of Ruth when, sick for home, She stood in tears amid the alien corn' (Ruth 1:66-67).
  • Greek, from Hebrew har mĕgiddōn 'hill of Megiddo' (Rev. 16:16).
  • (In the New Testament) the last battle between good and evil before the Day of Judgement.
  • Middle English: from Greek epiphainein 'reveal'. The sense relating to the Christian festival is via Old French epiphanie and ecclesiastical Latin epiphania.
  • Epiphany is the festival commemorating the manifestation of Christ to the Gentiles as represented by the Magi or the three wise men who brought gifts to the infant Jesus. It is from Greek epiphainein ‘reveal’. An alternative Greek name for the festival is Theophania ‘divine revelation’, which lies behind the personal name Tiffany, originally given to girls born at the festival.
  • (In Greek and Roman mythology) each of nine goddesses, the daughters of Zeus and Mnemosyne, who preside over the arts and sciences.
  • The Muses are generally listed as Calliope (epic poetry), Clio (history), Euterpe (flute playing and lyric poetry), Terpsichore (choral dancing and song), Erato (lyre playing and lyric poetry), Melpomene (tragedy), Thalia (comedy and light verse), Polyhymnia (hymns, and later mime), and Urania (astronomy).
  • Late Middle English: from Old French, or from Latin musa, from Greek mousaMiddle English: from Old French muser 'meditate, waste time', perhaps from medieval Latin musum 'muzzle'.
  • People who muse look thoughtful and reflective, and the word probably originally referred to facial expression, as it is related to muzzle (Late Middle English) (see also amuse). It has no connection with the Muses of classical mythology, the nine goddesses regarded as inspiring learning and the arts. The Greek word for a Muse, mousa, is also the source of music (Middle English) and museum (early 17th century). An institute called the Museum was established at Alexandria in about 280 bc by Ptolemy I of Egypt, and became the most renowned of the museums in the ancient world. The word museum means ‘seat of the Muses, place dedicated to the Muses’. Old astronomers imagined the universe to consist of transparent hollow globes that revolved round the earth carrying the heavenly bodies and making a harmonious sound known as the music of the spheres. Many other things have been regarded as making music, such as birds, running brooks, and packs of hounds—since the 1930s a man and woman making love have been said to make beautiful music together.
  • (In classical mythology) a unique bird that lived for five or six centuries in the Arabian desert, after this time burning itself on a funeral pyre and rising from the ashes with renewed youth to live through another cycle.
  • From Old French fenix, via Latin from Greek phoinix 'Phoenician, reddish purple, or phoenix'. The relationship between the Greek senses is obscure: it could not be ‘the Phoenician bird’ because the legend centres on the temple at Heliopolis in Egypt, where the phoenix is said to have burnt itself on the altar. Perhaps the basic sense is 'purple', symbolic of fire and possibly the primary sense of Phoenicia as the purple land (or land of the sunrise).
  • Late Middle English: from late Latin prodigalis, from Latin prodigus 'lavish'.
  • From Shakespeare's Tempest ( i. ii. 403).
References
Acknowledgements

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