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
Cloak and dagger

Describes any covert operation involving intrigue or secrecy; Chaucer in Canterbury Tales, The Knight’s Tale c. 1387 makes mention of “the smiler with...

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Clobber

British and Australian slang for clothes dates from the late 19th century. It can also mean to batter or thrash severely, which is an Americanism from...

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Clockwork

The figurative usage of clockwork, as in the phrase ‘like clockwork’, referring to automatic action of unvarying regularity, implying a high degree of...

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Clodhopper

An awkward, clumsy, boorish person dates from the late 1600s when clodhopper was slang for a ploughman, one who literally hops on clods of earth behin...

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Close but no cigar

Fall just short of success and get nothing for the effort, an American expression for which the earliest citation is the script of the 1935 movie Anni...

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Close call

A narrow escape means much the same thing as close shave and is also of American origin but dates from the late 19th century and derives from sports w...

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Close shave

A close or near shave is a narrow escape from some calamity or other, deriving from shave as in a slight or passing touch. This meaning and usage of s...

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Close to the bone

see Near the bone/knuckle


Closed book

A closed book is a person or a subject, about which one knows very little. It can also mean a subject, which is taboo or has been terminated. The expr...

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Clot

see Clodhopper


Cloth ears

British informal expression for someone who does not listen or understand clearly dates from the late 19th century and may derive from the cotton mill...

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Clothes-horse

A horse is a term for any frame or structure on which something is mounted or supported and dates from the early 18th century, so-called because it ha...

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Cloud cuckoo land

Was the name coined by Aristophanes in his play Birds in 414 BC In the play, two characters turn into birds and plan a city that was never constructed...

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Cloud nine

To be on cloud nine is to be blissfully happy; an American expression that dates from the mid-20th century. Like other ‘nine’ expressions e.g. dressed...

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Cluster fuck

American slang for an unholy mess dates from the 1970s and is thought to have derived from the US military during the Vietnam War, from the use of clu...

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