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
Beck and call

Beck is an obsolete shortened form of beckon dating from the Middle English period (1150-1450) meaning a silent nod of the head or a hand signal. It w...

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Bed of roses

This has become a figurative expression for a life of ease and luxury. The original was coined by Christopher Marlowe c.1589 in The Passionate Shepher...

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A synonym for chaos and confusion, which derives from a contraction of Bethlehem after the Bethlehem Hospital for lunatics in London, which was so nam...

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Bee in one’s bonnet

A state of agitation or pre-occupation, as one would experience if one had a bee trapped under one’s headgear. The expression in this form is most pro...

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Bee’s knees

If something is the bee’s knees it is excellent or of the highest quality. Although many explanations of the origin have been put forward, they all re...

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see Have a beef with someone


A beeline is the shortest distance between two points, as in to ‘make a beeline’ for or to a place. It is American in origin and dates in this sense f...

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Been around the block a few times

see Around the block

Beer and skittles

see All beer and skittles

Before the flood

A phrase that means a very long time ago, the flood being the deluge in the Bible from which Noah’s Ark allegedly saved both human and animal species...

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Before you can say Jack Robinson

This rather long-winded way of saying very quickly or with great speed dates from 1778 when it first appeared in the romantic novel Evelina by Frances...

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Beg the question

This expression has become an issue of controversy and confusion only because so many people use it incorrectly. Increasingly, beg the question is bei...

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Beggar belief

see Beggars belief

Beggar on horseback

Since horses have largely died out as a form of transport, this expression is not as common as it once was. ‘A beggar in a BMW’ would perhaps be more...

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Beggars belief/comparison/description etc

If something beggars belief, comparison or description it means that it is too extraordinary to be believed, compared or to be described. Belief, comp...

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