A-Z Database

A-Z Database

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Yellow or yellow-belly meaning cowardly is of American origin from the mid-19th century. It is thought that the expression yellow-belly may have been...

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Yellow peril

This refers to the largely irrational and unfounded Caucasian fears prevalent during the late 19th/early 20th century for the oriental people of China...

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see Whoopee


Yob meaning a street ruffian is originally British back slang from the word boy and the OED gives its origin as dating from the mid-19th century. Yobb...

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Although this familiar dairy product dates back to 6000 BC and Genghis Khan’s Mongol armies lived on it during their conquests in the 12th century, th...

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British slang for a very long time dates from the 1960s, perhaps derived from donkey’s years.


This is a specialist term from the game of cricket. It describes a ball bowled in line with the stumps, landing at the batsman’s feet, with the object...

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You and whose army?

This retort is usually used in response to a threat that is unlikely or incapable of being carried out. It is uncertain whether the origin is British...

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You bet/you betcha

These Americanisms dating from the mid-19th century are short for you can bet on it. They are used mainly in common speech as intensifiers to add assu...

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You can take a horse to water, but you cannot make it drink

see Take a horse to water

You can’t have your cake and eat it

see Have your cake and eat it

You never had it so good

‘You never had it so good’ was the slogan of the 1952 US Democrat election campaign. ‘The people of Britain have never had it so good’ was also the sl...

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You pays your money and you takes your choice

This British catchphrase, which means that one gets what one pays for was coined by Punch magazine in 1846.

Young buck

see Buck up


The last letter of the alphabet, pronounced ‘zed’ in Britain and Commonwealth Countries but ‘zee’ in America, is also slang for sleep when pluralised...

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