A-Z Database

A-Z Database

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Catch someone napping

Take someone unawares as if he or she were napping or sleeping, this figurative usage dates from the 1500s. See Nap for the origin.


The title of Joseph Heller’s satirical American novel published in 1955 about US Army Air Force bomber crews in WWII. The best way to get out of bombi...

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Catch/have a tiger by the tail

To have a tiger by the tail is to be in a very precarious and dangerous situation. The earliest citation for having a tiger by the tail is c.1930 and...

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A catchphrase is a phrase caught up and repeated in common everyday speech. According to the OED, it first appeared in print c. 1922. It is derived fr...

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Caught dead

see Would not be caught, found, seen dead

Caught flat-footed

To be caught flat-footed means to be caught unprepared and therefore to be at a disadvantage. The expression is originally American and dates from the...

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Caught in a cleft stick

see Cleft stick

Caught napping

see Catch someone napping

Caught on the back foot

see On the back foot

Caught red-handed

see Red handed

Caught with one’s hand in the cookie jar

see Cookie jar

Caution to the wind

see Throw caution to the wind


see Keep cavey


see Carbon copy


A cenotaph is an empty tomb, from the Greek cenos meaning empty and taphos meaning tomb. The Cenotaph at Whitehall, London, was originally erected to...

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