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
All’s well that ends well

Famous of course as the title of one of Shakespeare’s plays c.1601, this expression meaning that any enterprise with a satisfactory ending justifies t...

Read More


Alma mater

Refers to one’s school, college or university, which one attended and usually from which one graduated. This Latin phrase meaning dear or nourishing m...

Read More


Almond rocks

Rhyming slang for socks, almond rocks/socks dates from the early 20th century when almond rock cakes were popular.


Aloof

To be aloof is to distance oneself from something and dates from the early 16th century. Its origin is a Dutch sailing term from at least a century ea...

Read More


Alphabet

The word makes its appearance in English during the 1500s from the Latin Alphabetum, which in turn derives from the first two letters of the Greek alp...

Read More


Altogether, the altogether

In the altogether is a euphemistic term for completely naked and dates from the late 19th century. It is a typical example of Victorian sensibility an...

Read More


Always something new out of Africa

When this was quoted in the works of Pliny the Elder (23 - 79 AD) “Ex Africa semper aliquid novi” Pliny was quoting an old Greek proverb. For both the...

Read More


Amateur

When this word entered the English lnaguage towards the end of the 18th century, a straight borrowing from the French 'amateur' it meant a lover or an...

Read More


Amok

Sometimes spelt as ‘amuck’, is usually found in the expression to ‘run amok’, which dates from the mid-17th century and derives from the Portuguese am...

Read More


Amuck

see Amok


Angry young man

This expression has come to describe anyone who goes against the establishment or the accepted status quo. The first use of the phrase is attributed t...

Read More


Ankle-biter

Originally an American colloquialism for a small child, presumably a crawling child with teeth, dates from the mid-19th century.


Ankle-tap

An ankle-tap or tap-tackle is a form of tackle that is now practised and executed in sports like Rugby Union, Rugby League and American Football. The...

Read More


Another bite at/of the cherry/apple

Cherry and apple are used interchangeably in this expression with cherry being more common in Britain and apple being more favoured in America. The bi...

Read More


Another string to one’s bow

To have another string to one’s bow has become a figurative expression meaning to have a back-up plan or to display an additional skill or talent. The...

Read More


back to top