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
Chequered career/past

We often talk about a person as having had a chequered career or past and this figurative usage dates from the mid-1600s and means full of alternation...

Read More


Cherchez la femme

Cherchez la femme is French for look for the woman and is a cynical imperative to look for the presence of a woman in any intrigue or scandal. It was...

Read More


Cherry

British informal for a young, virginal girl and also can refer to virginity itself, deriving from the supposed similarity of the fruit to the hymen. I...

Read More


Cherry pick

Cherry picker is originally a British nautical expression, dating from the late 19th/early 20th century for an inferior seaman who would pick or choos...

Read More


Cheshire Cat

see Grin like a Cheshire cat


Chest Bump

A form of celebration when two men, usually in a sporting context, bump their chests together. It dates from the early 21st century and is thought to...

Read More


Chestnut (as in that old chestnut!)

A chestnut meaning a venerable old joke or story is from the late 19th century and is thought to have originated in America despite its first appearan...

Read More


Chestnuts out of the fire

see Pull chestnuts out of the fire


Chew one’s arm/hand off

see Bite/chew one’s arm/hand off


Chew the fat

Idle talk or chatter that first appears as a British military expression for grumbling or complaining during the late 19th century. It was very quickl...

Read More


Chic

Stylish, fashionable, dates from the mid-19th century, derives from the French chic, which originally meant smart rather than stylish, but it has now...

Read More


Chick

Chick has been a term of endearment for a child for centuries, from at least the late 1400s. It became popular again in America during the 1920s and s...

Read More


Chick flick

Describes a genre of movies made specifically to appeal to young women, an Americanism that dates from the late 1980s. See also Flick.


Chicken

Chicken or chicken-hearted has been a metaphor for cowardice since the early 1600s and derives from the timid and submissive behaviour of chickens.


Chicken feed

American informal for a paltry sum of money dates from c. 1840 and derives from the low cost of chicken food.


back to top