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
Bargain basement

This American expression is from the late 19th century and alludes to the practice of marking down and storing obsolete or end-of-range merchandise in...

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Barking mad

Barking mad means extremely mad, where barking is simply an intensifier, but does the word mad really need one? Perhaps there are degrees of madness,...

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Barking up the wrong tree

This American expression dating from the 19th century is for any endeavour that has run off course and is therefore a fruitless quest. Its origin stem...

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Barmy

Since the mid-19th century, barmy is British slang describing a weak-minded idiot. Barm is an Old English word, from before 1150, for the alcoholic sc...

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Barnet

Rhyming slang for hair, Barnet Fair/hair. It is one of the oldest examples of rhyming slang, first recorded in 1857. By 1880, its ‘clipped’ form ‘Barn...

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Barney

Barney has been British slang for an argument, a fight or trouble in general and dates in this sense from the late 19th/early 20th century. This meani...

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Barnstorming

This expression is American from the early 19th century and is a combination of barn and the figurative sense of storm as in excitement or commotion....

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Barrack

This word meaning to mock or jeer an opponent, especially in a sporting context, dates from the late 19th century. Although there is still some contro...

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Barrel of fun/laughs

This informal, collective noun for fun or jollity is originally American and dates from the early 19th century. Barrel of fun was given a boost during...

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Bash/bash on

Bash meaning to strike with a blow dates from the 16th century and the OED says it derives from combining the words bang and smash. In the late 19th/e...

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Bat an eye/eyelid

Usually occurs in the negative as in did not bat an eye/eyelid, which means to show indifference or lack of reaction. Bat is an old word from the 1400...

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Bat out of hell

Some claim that it can be traced back to Aristophanes The Birds 414 BC. “Then that bat of a Chaerephon came up from hell to drink the camel’s blood.”...

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Bated breath

Means holding ones breathing in expectation of something important or dramatic and as such it is one of the most frequently miss-spelt phrases in the...

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Bath

see Take a bath


Bats in the belfry

A glorious expression that describes madness or eccentricity has been around since the late 19th century and the earliest citations indicate it is of...

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