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
What’s potting?

This expression means, ‘what’s going on?’ or ‘what’s happening?’ and derives from the 18th century use of the word pot in the sense of to make or manu...

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What’s up Doc?

Bugs Bunny made this catchphrase popular from the Bugs Bunny cartoons and comic strips that started in the late 1930s. The catchphrase itself was firs...

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Whatchumacallit

Almost a nonsense word with various spellings, except that it is in fact a compressed form of ‘what you may call it' and describes something, the name...

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Whatever floats your boat

see Float someone’s boat


Wheel has come full circle

This was coined by Shakespeare in King Lear, Act V, Scene III, when Edmund says, “Thou hast spoken right, t’is true; the wheel has come full circle; I...

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Wheels within wheels

This expression signifying a complexity of forces or influences is taken from the Bible, Ezekiel 1:16. “As it were a wheel in the middle of a wheel.”

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When in Rome, do as the Romans do

Modify one’s behaviour and manners in accordance with local practice. This saying was coined by St Ambrose (c. 340-397 AD) when he wrote, “Si fueris R...

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When it comes to the crunch

see Crunch


When one door closes/shuts, another one opens

The earliest citation found for this is Fernando De Rojas (c.1465-1538) in La Celestina Act XV, “When one door closes, fortune will usually open anoth...

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When push comes to shove

When push comes to shove means it is time for more force or commitment to resolve a situation, and is first recorded in America from the late 19th cen...

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When the chips are down

When the chips are down signifies the critical moment of truth in any situation or endeavour. It is originally an American expression dating from the...

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When the penny drops

see Penny drops


Where there’s a will, there’s a way

This proverb means there is always a way of achieving something if the desire and determination are strong enough. This proverb is first encountered i...

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Where there’s muck there’s brass

This proverb is strongly associated with Yorkshire, but only because it is usually delivered in a stagey Yorkshire accent. It means of course that the...

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Where there’s smoke there’s fire

see No smoke without fire


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