A-Z Database

A-Z Database

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Whippersnapper

Contrary to popular belief this is originally a British expression from the late 1600s that gained popularity in America. A whippersnapper, now mainly...

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Whipping boy

Someone who always gets the blame and dates in this sense from the 1600s. The original whipping boys were the companions of princes and nobles during...

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Whisper sweet nothings

see Sweet nothings


Whistle and flute

Rhyming slang for suit, as in clothing, whistle and flute/suit, dates from the 1930s. Since then whistle has become a popular synonym for suit, as in...

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Whistle for it

If someone owes you money and he or she says, “You can whistle for it” it means the money is probably not forthcoming. This use of the word whistle me...

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Whistle-top tour

This expression usually refers to a journey or tour that is quick and punctuated by frequent short stops, most commonly in election campaigns or celeb...

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Whistleblower

see Blow the whistle


White as a ghost

First known citation for this is American from 1824. See also Pale as a ghost.


White as a sheet

Although sheets these days come in many colours, there was a time when they were predominately white, and this common expression dates from the late 1...

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White as snow

This expression is so old and so often cited that it is difficult to nail down an exact origin. Suffice to say that the Bible, Chaucer, and Shakespear...

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White elephant

White or albino elephants were venerated in many Asian countries, especially Siam (now Thailand). The rulers of Siam had a habit of giving white eleph...

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White lie

This use of the word white in this expression is a prime example of how the colour white always used to be synonymous with good things and the colour...

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White telephone

see Big white telephone


Whited sepulchre

A whited sepulchre is a metaphor for a hypocrite or for someone who appears virtuous but is in fact morally corrupt. The source is The New Testament,...

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Whiter than white

This is not an advertising slogan for a washing powder. It is a seemingly nonsensical hyperbole for someone who is morally pure and beyond reproach an...

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