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
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...

Read More


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...

Read More


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...

Read More


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...

Read More


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...

Read More


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...

Read More


Atlas

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...

Read More


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...

Read More


August

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...

Read More


Aunt Sally

If something or someone is described as an Aunt Sally it means that he, she or it has been set up as an easy target for criticism or blame, usually in...

Read More


back to top