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
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


Wind someone up

To wind someone up is British informal to tease or provoke someone. It dates from the 1970s and the allusion is to a clockwork toy over which one has...

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Wind up

see Get/put the wind up


Wind your neck back in

This expression can mean slightly different things depending on the context – from not to rubberneck or stare, to not to take a risk (the opposite of...

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Windbag

A term of contempt for a voluble, over-talkative person, dates from the early 19th century. See also Gasbag.


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