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
Widow’s peak

A widow’s peak is the distinct, V-shaped hairline at the top centre of the forehead. These days it is a unisex term but this was not always the case....

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Widow’s weeds

Weeds in this sense is simply a very old word for clothing and derives from the Old English wæd, meaning garment or clothing, and which dates back to...

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Wild oats

see Sow wild oats


Wild-goose chase

A wild-goose chase is a figurative expression for an unproductive, pointless or hopeless quest. Its origin dates back to the late 1500s when it descri...

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Wildfire

see Like wildfire


Will o’ the wisp

Will o’ the wisp is the folkloric name given to the natural phenomenon of marsh gas that sometimes ignites on contact with oxygen. It was known to the...

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Willy-nilly

This very old expression has two different but related meanings. The first meaning is ‘with or against one’s will’ and the second is ‘in an unplanned...

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Wimp

American expression for a weak, ineffectual, timid person dates from the 1970s, origin unknown, perhaps an abbreviation of whimper - the sound such a...

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Win by a street

see Streets ahead


Win friends and influence people

see How to win friends and influence people


Win hands down

see Hands down


Win one’s spurs

To win one’s spurs is to pass the test, to be elevated in position or rank and dates in this sense from the 1600s. It derives from the literal award o...

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Win, lose or draw

This is originally an American expression that has come to mean ‘whatever the outcome’, for the simple reason that in any pursuit or course of action,...

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Wind and piss

see All wind and piss


Wind out of one’s sails

see Taken aback


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