A-Z Database

A-Z Database

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Beard the lion/in his den

This expression is used figuratively to confront danger or adversity head-on without fear. There are two sources, both biblical. The first is from Sam...

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Beat about the bush

This was originally a hunting expression from the 15th century and it was not long, during the 17th century, before it was used figuratively for not g...

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Beat black and blue

An old expression dating from at least the 18th century for a severe beating, which raises black and blue welts on the skin.


Beat into shape

see Lick into shape


Beat someone to the draw

To gain an advantage over someone by reacting faster. This figurative usage dates from the late 19th century and derives, of course, from the allusion...

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Beat someone to the punch

Do or say something just before someone else does. This figurative usage dates from the 1920s and derives from boxing where an expert boxer tends to d...

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Beat the stuffing out of someone

see Knock/beat the stuffing out of someone


Beat/beaten hollow

This means to win a game or a match by such a wide margin that makes it no contest. The expression has been around since the 17th century and hollow i...

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Beat/scare the living daylights out of someone

From the mid-18th century, ‘daylights’ was slang for ‘the eyes’. ‘To beat/scare the living daylights out of someone’ means either administer a mercile...

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Beatnik

Coined by the American media in the 1950s to describe members of the so-called Beat Generation that evolved out of rock ‘n roll. The Russian suffix wa...

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Beauty is in the eye of the beholder

The concept behind this expression, if not the actual words, that beauty is perception rather than objective reality, is very old and can be traced ba...

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Beauty is only skin deep

Inner qualities are equally if not more important than the shallow quality of beauty, according to Bartlett’s Familiar quotations was coined by John D...

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Beauty sleep

The concept of beauty sleep dates from the early to mid-19th century (Merriam-Webster cites 1828) when it was thought that sleep during the hours befo...

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Beaver

US slang for the female pudenda from as early as 1927. Beaver fur was renowned for producing the softest, smoothest felt for use in hat and glove maki...

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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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