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
Wolf in sheep’s clothing

This expression from the New Testament is commonly used to describe someone who is not all that they seem, or who has an ulterior motive usually to th...

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Woman of easy virtue

see Easy virtue


Won on the playing fields of Eton

The complete quotation is, “The Battle of Waterloo was won on the playing fields of Eton.” It is attributed to the Duke of Wellington (1769-1852) from...

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Won’t wash

If something won’t wash, it means its veracity or validity will not stand up to close scrutiny. The expression dates from the late 19th century from t...

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Wonga

British slang for money that dates from the 1980s; thought to be derived from a Romany word wongar meaning money.


Wont (as is one’s wont)

As is one’s wont means according to one’s habit or custom, where wont is a largely archaic word from the 1300s deriving from the Anglo-Saxon wonen or...

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Wood

see Have the wood on or over someone. See also Touch/touching wood


Wooden walls

This metaphor for ships obviously only lasted until ships ceased to be made from wood during the latter half of the 19th century. The metaphor is very...

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Word is my bond

see My word is my bond


Work cut out

see Have one’s work cut out


Work like a beaver

see Beaver


Work like a dog

An old simile for working very hard, like a sheep dog, or similar, who works tirelessly until the job is done, dates from the early 1700s.


Work like a Trojan

To work like a Trojan means to work very hard and to call someone a Trojan or a real Trojan is to commend someone on a job well done. As mentioned in...

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Work one’s socks off

To work extremely hard where ‘socks off’ has become an intensifier denoting to the extreme or utmost. The expression dates from the mid-20...

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World is your oyster

Like so many expressions, the source is Shakespeare. The world is your oyster is said to another person to indicate that there is a world of relativel...

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