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
Carte blanche

To have carte blanche means to have full discretionary power and dates in this sense from the mid-18th century, borrowed from the French carte blanche...

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Cash cow

This phrase describing a business or a brand with high market share in a stable market and so delivering a regular source of income was coined by mana...

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Cash on the nail

see Pay on the nail/pay cash on the nail


Caster sugar/castor sugar

Both spellings caster and castor are acceptable with the OED favouring castor, but why is it called castor sugar? For the simple reason that the sugar...

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Castles in Spain/in the air

This expression means daydreaming or wasting time on pipe dreams. The expression was originally French from the 13th century and first appeared in Jea...

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Cat

As in cool cat or hep cat is American jazz slang that dates from the 1920s.


Cat among pigeons

To set the cat among pigeons is to cause a disturbance as indeed a cat would if it was put into a dove or pigeon cote. The origin is obscure but someo...

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Cat got your tongue?

This expression has given rise to many fanciful origins ranging from eastern despots feeding the tongues of their victims to cats, to nautical tales o...

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Cat laugh

see Make a cat laugh


Cat on a hot tin roof

see Cat on hot bricks


Cat on hot bricks

To behave like a cat on hot bricks is to be very nervous, skittish or ill at ease, as a cat would be if walking on hot bricks. The expression dates fr...

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Cat’s whiskers

see Bee’s knees


Catch a crab

A false stroke in rowing where the oar is put too deep into the water and cannot easily be extracted, as if held there by a large crab, dates from the...

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Catch a falling star

This poetic phrase was coined by John Donne (1571-1631) in Song, Stanza I, “Go, and catch a falling star.”


Catch some Z’s

see Z’s


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