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
Warts and all

Warts and all, as in the statement, “You have to accept me, warts and all,” means that the speaker is making an appeal for acceptance, inclusive of hi...

Read More


Wash one’s hands of the whole affair/matter

To disown or disassociate oneself from a particular state of affairs; the source is the New Testament, Matthew 27:24 when Pontius Pilate literally was...

Read More


Wash-out

A disappointing failure this figurative usage dates from the late 19th/early 20th century.


Washed out

Lacking in colour, animation or vigour this figurative usage dates from the mid-19th century.


Washed up

Washed up meaning finished, defeated, or a failure, is American and first attested from the 1920s. See also Take a bath and cleaned out. There may be...

Read More


Waste not, want not

This saying means if you do not waste anything, you will not want for anything and is first attested in this form from the late 18th century. It is, h...

Read More


Wasted

Wasted is American slang for intoxicated, drugged, exhausted or even murdered, depending on the context, and dates from the 1950s. Synonyms like trash...

Read More


Watch someone’s back

To watch or cover someone’s back is to guard and look after their well-being, both literally and figuratively and has evolved into ‘having someone’s b...

Read More


Watched kettle never boils

In its original format of ‘a watched pot never boils’, which is still the preferred American version, it is attributed to Benjamin Franklin who record...

Read More


Water off a duck’s back

Usually in the form of a simile, ‘like water off a duck’s back’ describes a remark or an incident that seemingly has no effect on the person so target...

Read More


Water under the bridge/past the mill

Water under the bridge or past the mill meaning that something is irrevocable, in the past and therefore best forgotten, was an ancient saying before...

Read More


Water, water, everywhere

Frequently misquoted as “Water, water, everywhere and not a drop to drink” when in fact it was originally written as “Water, water, everywhere, not an...

Read More


Watershed

A watershed is a significant turning point, a division, a transition or change of direction and acquired this figurative meaning from the mid-19th cen...

Read More


Wax lyrical

To wax lyrical means to be effusive and enthusiastic about something or someone and dates from the latter half of the 19th century. The word ‘wax’ use...

Read More


Way out

In the sense of great, excellent, admirable is American and dates from the mid-20th century and is thought to derive from the language of jazz. Not ma...

Read More


back to top