A-Z Database

A-Z Database

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Dig ones heels in

To adopt a firm, obstinate stance, the expression dates from the 19th century.


Dig oneself into a hole or pit

This is a very old expression meaning to get oneself into trouble. Its source is the Bible Psalms 7:15, “He made a pit, and digged it, and is fallen i...

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Dill

British slang from the 1970s for an idiot or stupid and foolish person. The origin is obscure. Some say it is an abbreviation of dildo or dilly, while...

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Dilly

In the late 18th/early 19th century, a dilly was a stagecoach. In US slang from c. 1935, dilly was a shortening of delightful and is still used in thi...

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Dilly-dally

Dilly is simply a reduplication of dally, which dates from The Middle Ages and means to loiter or spend time idly. According to the OED, dilly-dally i...

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Ding-dong

A reduplicated word imitative of course of the sound of bells; dates from the late 16th century. Its figurative use as in a ding-dong battle or contes...

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Dinges

Pronounced derng-is dinges is South African informal for thingummy from the Dutch/Afrikaans ding meaning thing. Like its English counterpart thingummy...

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Dinghy

Derives from the Hindi dingi meaning a small boat, typically a rowing boat but can describe a small boat with a single sail, dates in English from the...

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Dink

In sporting contexts, a dink is a drop shot in tennis and other racquet games and this usage dates from the 1930s. More recently, it is frequently use...

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Dinkum

This word, which today is principally Australian, first turns up in print in Australia in Robbery Under Arms (1888) by Ralph Boldrewood, “It took us a...

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Dinky

The OED gives dink as an adjective of Scottish dialectical origin meaning decked out or dressed finely and this usage dates from the early 1500s. By t...

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Dint

see By dint of


Dip one’s toe/toes in the water

A metaphor that means to try something new or start a new project cautiously without over-commitment or too much risk. It dates from the late 20th cen...

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Dip one’s wick

British slang from the early 20th century for a man to have sex, derives from rhyming slang Hampton Wick/prick.


Dirt poor

Extremely poor with minimal income and assets, an American expression that dates from the 1930s, from the obvious allusion that poor people usually li...

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