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
Bag of tricks

This expression means all one’s resources or capabilities as in, ‘he used his complete bag of tricks but to no avail.’ The expression dates from the e...

Read More


Bag some Z’s

see Z’s


Bag/ baggies/bags/bags of

Bag meaning to shoot game and put it in a bag dates from the 15th century and is the origin of the expression 'in the bag', meaning a successf...

Read More


Bail

Bail is an old word from the early 15th century from the French baille for bucket or pail. Bail as in, to bail water from a boat dates from the early...

Read More


Baker’s dozen

This phrase meaning thirteen of something rather than twelve dates from the late 16th century but derives from the much earlier wholesale practice of...

Read More


Bald as a coot

This is an old expression dating from the 15th century and derives from the coot, fulica atra, a web-footed water bird that is also known as the bald...

Read More


Balderdash

It is a pity that such a lovely expressive word meaning rubbish or nonsense should have an origin shrouded in mystery and conjecture. There is somethi...

Read More


Ball is in your court

The origin of this expression is tennis when the next move in the game has to be from the ball-receiver. Its figurative sense, meaning the transferenc...

Read More


Ball of chalk

If something has gone for a ball of chalk, it means that something is a complete mess or disaster. That is why it is difficult to equate its current m...

Read More


Ball of fire

A dynamic person capable of displaying rapid and effective thought and action; the metaphor dates from the early 19th century, despite fruitless etymo...

Read More


Ball of wax

see Whole ball of wax


Ball/Balls/Balls-up

Ball as in a dance dates from the early 1600s and derives from the French bal or baller meaning dance or to dance. Balls meaning testicles has been in...

Read More


Balling the jack

This is an American slang expression dating from the 1920s meaning to go fast or take off at top speed. It became the particular jargon of US railroad...

Read More


Ballistic

This word was first used to describe rocket-powered missiles c.1954 and only acquired its figurative meaning of being irrationally angry from the earl...

Read More


Balloon has gone up

This expression dates from the First World War and is now figurative for major trouble ahead. When the troops in the frontlines saw the balloons of th...

Read More


back to top