A-Z Database

A-Z Database

All A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z
Rabbit

Rabbit, as in to prattle or to chatter annoyingly derives from rhyming slang, rabbit and pork/talk, dates from the late 1930s. Rabbit, as a contemptuo...

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Rabbit punch

A rabbit punch is a blow to the back of the neck and is illegal in boxing. It is so-called because it resembles the way gamekeepers kill rabbits, with...

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Rack

US slang for a woman’s breasts, dates from the 1990s.


Rack (wine)

To rack wine is a technical term for siphoning or draining wine from one container to another, leaving its lees, the sediments of dried yeasts and oth...

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Rack and ruin

When something goes to rack and ruin it means complete destruction or worthlessness and unlike rack one’s brains, it has nothing to do with rack as in...

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Rack of lamb

The use of rack in this sense comes from the 14th century use of the word meaning a framework, indicating the framework of how the lamb ribs have been...

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Rack one’s brains

When we rack our brains, it means we stretch them mentally and in this sense it is a figurative allusion to the rack, the gruesome medieval torture de...

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Racked with pain

This expression has been around since the mid-15th century and its association with the medieval torture device is obvious. See also rack one’s brains...

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Radar

Electronic system for locating objects, especially aircraft, by means of radio waves. The acronym radar was coined by the US Navy in 1940 from radio d...

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Raft of measures

Raft here is used as a collective noun as in a raft of measures, proposals, ideas etc. It has no etymological connection with raft as in a floating pl...

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Rag and bone

Rag-and-bone collectors date from the early 19th century and may have been the first recyclers of waste material. Rags were sold to manufacturers of s...

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Rag trade

Colloquial expression for the clothing business dates from the late 19th century. See also rag/rags.


Rag, tag and bobtail

Rag, tag and bobtail means ‘the whole lot’ or a motley collection of people and means much the same thing as Tom, Dick and Harry. It derives from an o...

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Rag/rags

As a verb, the original meaning of rag means to tear into pieces or tear into rags, and dates from the late 1400s. Rag as in to tease or annoy dates f...

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Ragamuffin

Originally, a disreputable person and dates from the mid-14th century, although the word appears in the medieval poem Piers Plowman in 1393 and descri...

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