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Words: roses, n.

EVERY WRITER seeks to produce, at the very least, a classic phrase. In Gypsy, his musical about the stripper Gypsy Rose Lee, Stephen Sondheim did that and more. "One of the problems," he recalls, "was to come up with a phrase that means `things are going to be better than ever' that isn't flat and yet isn't so poetic". So saying, he coined "everything's coming up roses".

The ploy was so successful that the first use of this instant vintage is not credited to the 1958 musical by the OED but to The Times a decade later. As for the show's choreographer, Jerome Robbins, he was puzzled at first. "I just don't understand that title." "Why not, Jerry?" "Everything's coming up Rose's what?" Sondheim howls with laughter about this even now.