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
Call the shots

This expression has come to mean to be in charge or in control of events and derives from target shooting where the shooter is so confident of his or...

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Call the tune

Call the tune means to be in control of events and derives from the expression who pays the piper, calls the tune. Whoever pays the piper has every ri...

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Came home with flying colours

see Come home with flying colours


Cameroon is a country in West Africa named prawn. This sounds absurd but it is nevertheless true. Cameroon is a corruption of the Portuguese word cama...

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Homosexual, effeminate, theatrical behaviour or speech dates from the 1920s. It is thought to derive from the erstwhile practice of homosexual males o...

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Camp as a row of tents

see Camp

Camptown Ladies

Famously, from the first line of Stephen Foster’s song Camptown Races published in 1850; but originally an ironic description for the womenfolk of the...

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As in an airtight, sheet-metal container for food etc, dates from 1867, chiefly American, whereas the British preference is for tin, which dates from...

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Can of worms

see Open a can of worms

Can the leopard change its spots?

Rhetorical question that means one cannot change one’s nature. The source is the Bible Jeremiah 13:23, “Can the Ethiopian change his skin, or the leop...

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Can’t cut the mustard

see Cut the mustard

Can’t make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear

see Make a silk purse out of a sow's ear

Can’t make head nor tail of something

Cannot understand anything about something, even if one examines every possible aspect of it, from top to bottom, or from its head to its tail. The ex...

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Can’t see the forest/wood for the trees

So wrapped up in details that one cannot appreciate the whole picture is an ancient proverb first recorded in John Heywood Proverbs (1546).

Candy from a baby

see Taking candy from a baby

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