(The ). The nose, also called the beak. Hence, “Billy”
is slang for a pocket-handkerchief.
Lastly came Winter, clothed all in frize,
Chattering his teeth for cold that did him chill; Whilst on his hoary
beard his breath did freeze; And the dull drops that from his purple
bill [nose], As from a limbeck, did adown distill.
Spenser: Faërie Queene,
(A). The draft of an Act of Parliament.
A public bill
is the draft of an Act of Parliament affecting the general public.
A private bill
is the draft of an Act of Parliament for the
granting of something to a company, corporation, or certain
A true bill.
I confess what you say is true. The case against the accused is
first submitted to the grand jury. If they think the charge has a fair
colour, they write on the declaration “A true bill,” and the case is
submitted to the petty jury. Otherwise, they write “No true bill,” or
“Not found,” and the case is at once dismissed or “ignored.”
To ignore a bill
is to write on it ignoramus.
“`Ignoramus' is the word properly used by the Grand Enquest ... and
written upon the bill.” —Cowell.
Bills payable. Bills of exchange, promissory notes, or other
documents promising to pay a sum of money.
Promissory notes, bills of exchange, or other acceptances held by a
person to whom the money stated is payable.
Source: Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, E. Cobham Brewer, 1894
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