A-Z Database

A-Z Database

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By the by

This odd expression dates from the 17th century and means incidentally, of secondary importance or off the main track and it is the latter meaning tha...

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By the cringe

This expression of surprise, wonderment or shock was coined, it is thought, by Dick Clement and Ian La Frenais, the writers of the BBC (British Broadc...

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By the same token

A somewhat curious expression that variously means 'for the same reason', 'in the same vein', 'by the same meaning', and sometimes simply 'moreover' o...

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By the seat of one’s pants

see Fly by the seat of one’s pants

By the short and curlies

see Short and curlies

By the short hair/s

see Short hair/s

By the skin of one’s teeth

This expression first appears in the Geneva Bible (1560), Job 19: 20, when Job says, “I have escaped with the skin of my teeth.” Presumably, Job meant...

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By the way

Today it means incidentally or in passing and the latter phrase is the clue to its origin from the late Middle Ages when it meant literally to pass so...

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By their fruits, you shall know them

This expression from the New Testament has come to mean that one can only truly evaluate someone’s performance by the results delivered. The source is...

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By/to/within a hair’s breadth/whisker

A metaphor for a very small margin i.e. the breadth or width of a hair dates from the late 1500s and was used by Shakespeare in Merry Wives of Windsor...

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Bygones be bygones

see Let bygones be bygones

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