Show Summary Details

Quick Reference

In a number of names, or indicating an established and unchanging system.

Old Bailey the Central Criminal Court in London, formerly standing in an ancient bailey of the London city wall. The present court was built in 1903–6 on the site of Newgate Prison.

old boy network an informal system of support and friendship through which men are thought to use their positions of influence to help others who went to the same school or university as they did, or who share a similar social background.

Old Church Slavonic the oldest recorded Slavic language, as used by the apostles Cyril and Methodius and surviving in texts from the 9th–12th centuries. It is related particularly to the Southern Slavic languages.

Old Colony an informal name for Massachusetts.

Old Contemptibles the veterans of the British Expeditionary Force sent to France in the First World War (1914), so named because of the German Emperor's alleged exhortation to his soldiers to ‘walk over General French's contemptible little army’.

Old Dominion an informal name for the state of Virginia.

Old English the language of the Anglo-Saxons (up to about 1150), an inflected language with a Germanic vocabulary, very different from modern English.

Old Faithful the name of a geyser in Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming, noted for the regularity of its eruptions.

Old Glory an informal name for the US national flag, otherwise known as the Stars and Stripes. It is attributed to Captain William Driver (1803–86), when saluting a new flag flown on his ship, the Charles Dogget, on leaving Salem, Massachusetts for the South Pacific in 1831.

old guard the original or long-standing members of a group or party, especially ones who are unwilling to accept change or new ideas.

old habits die hard proverbial saying, mid 18th century, meaning that a favourite practice or custom is reluctantly abandoned.

Old Hundredth a hymn tune which first appeared in the Geneva psalter of 1551 and was later set to Psalm 100 in the ‘old’ metrical version of the Geneva Psalter (hymn 166 in ‘Hymns Ancient and Modern’); the psalm itself.

Old Kingdom a period of ancient Egyptian history (c. 2575–2134bc, 4th–8th dynasty).

Old Labour the Labour Party before the introduction of the internal reforms initiated by Neil Kinnock (party leader, 1983–1992) and carried through by John Smith (party leader 1992–1994) and his successor Tony Blair (Prime Minister 1997– ); the term is now used for that section of the Labour Party which argues that the aims and ideals of New Labour represent an abandonment of socialist principles.

Old Lady of Threadneedle Street the nickname of the Bank of England, which stands in this street. The term dates from the late 18th century, as a caption to James Gillray's cartoon of 22 May 1797, ‘Political Ravishment, or The Old Lady of Threadneedle-Street in danger!’

old leaven in Christian tradition, traces of the unregenerate state or prejudices that may be held by religious converts, referred to in 1 Corinthians 5:7.

Old Line State an informal name for Maryland.


Reference entries

Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content. Please, subscribe or login to access all content.