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

‘Auntie’ has been the jocular, and once derisive, nickname for the BBC (British Broadcasting Corporation) since the mid-1950s. The first known citatio...

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The original French meant the advanced guard. The English word vanguard is derived from it. The original French was re-borrowed during the late 19th/e...

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This acronym for absent without official leave is of US military origin, perhaps from as early as the American Civil War but certainly in common use b...

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To axe in the figurative sense of to cut expenses, or fire staff, workers etc is from c. 1922.

Axe to grind

The grinding or sharpening of axes has clearly gone on for thousands of years. Shakespeare used the expression in its literal sense in Pericles Act I...

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B line

see Beeline


US college slang for an attractive young woman, dates from the early 20th century.


Back as in to support something or someone or to place a wager derives from the back or spine, which is the central support column of human and animal...

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Back against the wall

see Backs to the wall

Back down

Withdraw from a position or a commitment, an American expression that dates from the mid-19th century.

Back in the day

An American expression that refers to an unspecified time in the past is first attested in this specific form from the 1960s.

Back in the saddle/on the horse

To be back in the saddle or back on the horse is a metaphor for being back in control or managementk of a job, task, mission or assignment that may ha...

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Back of beyond

An expression that describes a remote, isolated place, is often wrongly supposed to be of Australian origin, probably because Australia has many such...

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Back of one’s hand

see Know like the back of one’s hand

Back off

Retreat or cease annoying someone, an American expression dates from the 1930s.

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