A-Z Database

A-Z Database

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At full tilt

Means at full speed and derives from the ancient sport of jousting. From the early 16th century, 'tilting' was an alternative term for jousting. Oppos...

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At large

An idiomatic phrase that means at liberty or free. It can have a negative or positive connotation in that a criminal or escaped convict can be at larg...

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At loggerheads

see Loggerheads

At one fell swoop

This expression straight out of Shakespeare now means suddenly or all at once. In Macbeth (1605) Act IV, Scene III, on hearing the terrible news that...

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At sea

see All at sea

At sixes and sevens

see Sixes and sevens

At the chalkface

At the chalkface is a British expression that describes the teaching profession; originally a pun on at the coalface. At the chalk face is attributed...

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At the coalface

At the coalface means to work in an active, hands-on manner, rather than at a theoretical level. The allusion is of course to the coal-mining industry...

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At the drop of a hat

This expression of American origin meaning to do something in an instant, suddenly and spontaneously, is first cited in this sense from 1837. The drop...

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At the eleventh hour

see Eleventh hour

At the end of one’s rope/tether

To be exasperated at making no further progress derives from tethered animals that can go no further than the end of their ropes, dates from the 1600s...

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Atlas was one of the Titans, beings of immense strength who ruled the earth before they were overthrown by Zeus. In Greek mythology, Zeus’s victory ov...

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Attack is the best form of defence

This same proverb appears in many different languages and cultures but its first citation in more or less this format appears to be American, from law...

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see Months of the year

Auld Lang Syne

Auld Lang Syne is old Scots dialect that literally means ‘old long since’ although a more colloquial and acceptable translation would be ‘long, long a...

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