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
Dead to rights

see Bang to rights


Dead/centre/certain/right/straight etc

The first figurative use of dead as applied to things other than people is from the 1400s but dead as an intensifier meaning exact, precise or unerrin...

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Deadbeat

American slang for a worthless individual dates from the mid-19th century, where ‘dead’ is an intensifier for ‘beat’, which used to mean to swindle or...

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Deadeye Dick

Deadeye is American slang for a sharpshooter or an expert shot and is from the late 19th century. The addition of the name Dick is purely alliterative...

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Deadline

Meaning a set time limit is from US newspaper jargon from around 1920. The origin is thought to come from US military prisons during the American Civi...

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Deadpan

Impassive, expressionless, giving nothing away is American from c. 1928 and derives from having an expressionless face like a flat pan.


Deaf as a post

Obviously, there is little point in talking to a wooden post or any other inanimate object, hence the expression as deaf as a post which dates from th...

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Deafening silence

This famous oxymoron dates from around 1830 when it first appeared in print but no one knows who coined it.


Dear/dearie me

This is a polite invocation that variously expresses sympathy, surprise, distress or criticism, very much dependent on the context. Its diminutive, de...

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Death and taxes

This famous phrase was coined by Benjamin Franklin in 1789 in a letter to Jean Baptiste Leroy. “In this world nothing is certain but death and taxes.”

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Death warmed up

To look or feel like death warmed up is to look or feel very ill. It is a British colloquial expression from the late 1930s and it not known who coine...

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Death where is thy sting?

See O Death where is thy sting?


Death’s door

To be at death’s door is to be at the point of dying, dates from the 17th century.


Deaths-head

Synonym for skull dates from the 16th century. Shakespeare uses it in Henry IV Part II, Act II, Scene IV. “Do not speak like a death’s-head; not bid m...

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Debunk

see Bunkum/Bunk


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