A-Z Database

A-Z Database

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Bad news travels fast

This is a very old proverb. Plutarch (46 - 120 AD) wrote, “That old proverbial saying, ‘bad news travels fast and far’”. Many years later, Thomas Kyd...

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Bad penny

The full expression is a bad penny always turns up where a bad penny is an unwanted, no-good person who will always make repeated appearances and intr...

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Bad smell/odour

The metaphoric use of this expression, which means having suspicions or misgivings in relation to a situation or person dates from the early 19th cent...

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Bad workman always blames his tools

This is a very old proverb, which is first cited in French from the 13th century in the form of “a bad workman can never find a good tool”. The expres...

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Bad/rotten egg

A bad or rotten egg is a rascal or scoundrel, obviously based on a literal bad or rotten egg, which no one likes. Bad or rotten egg has been used figu...

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To badger is to persistently worry or persecute someone. The origin is from the medieval sport of badger hunting. Badgers defend their burrows fiercel...

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Bag of bones

A very thin, emaciated person, the expression dates from the early 19th century.

Bag of fruit

Rhyming slang, bag of fruit/suit, as in clothes, possibly of Australian origin, dates from the latter half of the 20th century. See also whistle and f...

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Bag of hammers

About as useful as a bag of hammers or dumber than a bag of hammers are examples of American slang that date from the early 20th century.

Bag of nails

Describes a mess, confusion, something unpleasant and is American slang from the early 20th century.

Bag of tricks

This expression means all one’s resources or capabilities as in, ‘he used his complete bag of tricks but to no avail.’ The expression dates from the e...

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Bag some Z’s

see Z’s

Bag/ baggies/bags/bags of

Bag meaning to shoot game and put it in a bag dates from the 15th century and is the origin of the expression 'in the bag', meaning a successf...

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Bail is an old word from the early 15th century from the French baille for bucket or pail. Bail as in, to bail water from a boat dates from the early...

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Baker’s dozen

This phrase meaning thirteen of something rather than twelve dates from the late 16th century but derives from the much earlier wholesale practice of...

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