A-Z Database

A-Z Database

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Crossing fingers

see Fingers crossed

Crossing the Rubicon

One is deemed to have crossed the Rubicon when one makes a decision in life that cannot be reversed. When Julius Caesar crossed the river Rubicon in 4...

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An ill-tempered person, usually a child, and derives from the 16th century when patch was colloquial for a fool or dunderhead.


Meaning bad-tempered dates from the early 19th century and derives from the word crotchet which dates from the 1400s and is a diminutive of the French...

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Crow road

see As the crow flies

Crown jewels

Slang for male genitalia since the 1970s. First recorded in America but is generally widespread throughout the English-speaking world. See also Family...

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Crows’ feet

The wrinkles that form at the corner of the eyes are first mentioned in Chaucer Troilus and Criseyde c. 1385. “Till crowes feet be grown under your ey...

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Cruel to be kind

The philosophy of short-term severity as having longer-term benefits, which was classically expressed by Shakespeare in Hamlet Act III, Scene IV, “I m...

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Cruising for a bruising

American idiom for looking for trouble and likely to find it dates from c. 1945.


Crumpet or a nice bit of crumpet is British slang from the late 19th century for a woman and follows a long tradition of associating women with delect...

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An echoic word that derives from the much earlier and now obsolete word craunch, which dates from the early 1600s and means to crush or grind with the...

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Crux of the matter

The most important part or heart of the matter dates from the latter half of the 18th century. Before this, from the early 1700s, a crux meant a puzzl...

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Cry foul

To cry foul is to declare that something is unfair or illegal and was first used in a sporting context from the mid-19th century, although foul play m...

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Cry off

To withdraw or refrain from doing something or other

Cry over spilt milk

A commonly used metaphor for dwelling pointlessly over past misfortunes, usually in the form of don’t cry or no use crying over spilt milk. Its earlie...

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