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
Dressed to the nines

To the nines is first attested in 1793 in a poem by Robert Burns where it means to perfection. There is a hint of this meaning in dressed to the nines...

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Dribble

A term in association football, to move the ball forwards or sideways with the feet in a series of short pushes dates from the late 19th century, from...

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Drift

Drift as in to get someone’s drift dates from the early 16th century. Drift here means current or flow and is used figuratively to mean the conscious...

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Drink (sea)

RAF slang for the sea dates from c. 1920.


Drink someone under the table

Means to out-drink someone, as if in a drinking contest, from the allusion to the loser sliding, drunk under the table at the end of the drinking bout...

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Drink/propose a toast

Has the social ritual of toasting one another with drinks anything to do with the toasted bread that we sometimes eat? The answer is most certainly ye...

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Drip

Public school slang from the early 20th century for a weak, ineffectual person has etymological connections to wet that means the same thing.


Drive someone into a corner

see Into a corner


Drive someone up the wall

see Up the wall


Driver’s/driving seat

To be in the driving seat is generally thought to be more British, while to be in the driver’s seat is more American. They both mean the same thing, i...

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Drop a brick

To drop a brick is to make a clumsy, indiscreet, embarrassing mistake or remark, from the obvious allusion of clumsily dropping a house brick that cou...

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Drop a clanger

A clanger is an indiscreet, embarrassing mistake or remark that reverberates for all to hear or witness and, if you drop one, then you are deemed to h...

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Drop a/the ball

Make a mistake or miss an opportunity, dates from the mid-20th century and derives from virtually any ball sport, baseball, cricket, rugby, American F...

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Drop in a bucket/ocean/sea

This means a small, inconsequential amount and the source is the Bible, Isaiah, 40:15. “The nations are as a drop of a bucket, and are counted as the...

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Drop someone a line

Why do we use the word drop in the construction of this everyday expression? It becomes obvious, however, as soon as we think of the phrase ‘drop a le...

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