Idioms

Idioms

A1

If something is A1, it is first class or top quality. The US equivalent is A No.1. The origin is from the Lloyd’s Register, which insures shipping and...

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AC/DC

These acronyms for alternating current and direct current have come to signify bisexuality and derive from likening bisexual people to electrical appl...

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A - OK/A - Okay

Everything is in perfect condition, working order or all systems go is American informal and dates from the late 1950s, extensively used by NASA and b...

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A little knowledge is a dangerous thing

see Little knowledge is a dangerous thing

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A still small voice

The inner voice of conscience, in former times commonly referred to as the voice of God. The source is the Bible Kings I 19:11. “And after the earthqu...

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Aback

see Taken aback

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Abandon all hope, ye who enter here

The supposed inscription over the entrance to Hell, the line is from Dante (1265-1321) The Divine Comedy, Inferno canto, III, 9. Abandon All Hope is a...

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Abba

‘Abba’ is an ancient word that means father in Aramaic, Hebrew and Arabic and is used as synonym for God in the Bible. The popular music group, Abba,...

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Able-bodied seaman

Abbreviation ABS, the lowest rank in the Royal Navy, although today the bodied part is dropped in preference for able seaman. In the late 17th century...

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Above board

Above board means openly without concealment and was originally a gambling term from the early 17th century, when the hands of card players had to be...

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Abracadabra

If ever there was a word with its origin shrouded in the mists and myths of time then this is surely it. The consensus seems to be its origin is unkno...

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Absence makes the heart grow fonder

The concept behind this well-known saying was first coined in Latin by the Roman poet Sextus Aurelius Propertius (born around 50 BC and died around 15...

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Absent are always wrong

Often appears in the form of he or she who is absent is always wrong or the absent are always wrong. The French dramatist Philippe Néricault Destouche...

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Abyssinia

British jocular expression for farewell or goodbye as an approximation of ‘I’ll be seeing you.’ This usage dates from the late 19th century and is cur...

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According to one’s lights

To the best of one’s abilities. Lights meaning mental capabilities dates from the 1400s.

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