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
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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Cry wolf

To cry wolf is to raise a false alarm and the source is Aesop’s Fables c. 550 BC, from The Shepherd Boy and the Wolf where the boy deluded the village...

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Cry/laugh all the way to the bank

To cry all the way to the bank is to make money, without remorse, at the expense of others. Its alternative form is laugh all the way to the bank. The...

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Crying out loud

see For crying out loud

Crying shame

An adverse situation or event that is so bad it can reduce one to tears, dates from the 1600s.

Crystal clear

Extremely easy to see or understand, from the allusion to the high transparency of crystal glass, and dates in this figurative sense from at least the...

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A snug place or small closet and in this sense dates from the 19th century, but derives of course from a place where cubs or young animals would nestl...

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