A-Z Database

A-Z Database

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These initials stand for the Latin quod erat demonstrandum meaning, ‘what was to be demonstrated’. It was coined by Euclid in Greek c. 300 BC but it i...

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see On the QT


Many people wrongly believe that 'quack' is slang for doctor. In fact, quack is not slang at all and is a term for a medical charlatan. Quack in this...

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Quality rather quantity

This coined by Seneca (8 BC - 68 AD) in Epistles, “It is quality rather than quantity that matters.”


Slang for an effeminate male homosexual dates from the late 19th century.


Since the 1500s, the word queer has enjoyed two meanings. From 1508, it has meant ‘odd, peculiar, eccentric or strange’ and from 1561 it has also mean...

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Queer as a nine bob note

Despite its lack of political correctness, this expression is still used today to describe a homosexual but this was not the original meaning. Because...

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Queer somebody’s pitch

To queer somebody’s pitch is to spoil their chances of success and dates in this figurative sense from the late 18th/early 19th century. The sense of...

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Queer Street

This is early 19th century British slang for financial difficulties and is still in common use on both sides of the Atlantic. Queer Street was an imag...

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Quick off the mark

see Off the mark

Quick/fast out of the (starting) blocks

The figurative meaning is to be mentally or physically quick off the mark and dates from the 1950s. The allusion is of course to the starting blocks u...

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Quicksilver is the older name for mercury, from Old English, which dates from before 1150. It is mentioned in Chaucer, late 14th century. It has also...

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Quid is British informal for a pound sterling, dates from the late 1600s and was used for older coins known as sovereigns. Despite many different etym...

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Quids in

To be quids in means to be in profit or ahead of the game in a financial sense. The expression dates from the early 20th century and is the only plura...

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Quiet as a mouse

This very old simile dates from the 1500s. As still as a mouse is even older from the 14th century. Shakespeare used the expression, “As quiet as a la...

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