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
Flash in the pan

Means temporary or ephemeral success and has been used in this figurative sense since the late 18th/early 19th century. Its earlier literal sense deri...

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Flat meaning an apartment is a British colloquialism that dates from around 1824. From the late 18th/early 19th century, flat was commonly used to mea...

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Flat out

Flat out meaning at top speed dates from the early 20th century and the origin remains uncertain. ‘Flat out like a lizard drinking’ is Australian from...

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Flat spin

To be in a flat spin means to be in a state of confusion or disarray and dates from the early 20th century. Before this, from the late 18th/early 19th...

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Flatter to deceive

This expression is much beloved by sports commentators and, for some unknown reason, has become one of their favourites, even though they generally mi...

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Flea in the ear

One would imagine that a flea or some such insect in one’s ear would cause a great deal of distress and this must have been the case when lice and fle...

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Flesh out

To flesh out something is to add more detail in order to communicate a fuller understanding or picture of something or other, from the allusion of add...

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This wonderful word dates from the 1400s; a good word to throw out occasionally, usually to a stunned or uncomprehending audience. Take care not to sl...

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Originally, US slang for movie, dates from c. 1920; an abbreviation of flicker from the flickering visual appearance of early films. See also Chick fl...

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Flight of fancy

A fantasy or pipedream, usage dates from the mid-17th century.


Means a piece of nonsense or twaddle designed to trick or deceive, dates from the early 16th century and is probably of old Scandinavian origin, akin...

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Flip one’s lid/top

see Blow one’s lid/top


Originally, an American term for a somersault from 1902, later in 1935 it was an electronic term for a switching circuit and finally in the 1960s it w...

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Flipping the bird

American version of giving the middle finger dates from the 1960s.


British euphemism for the f word dates from the early 20th century.

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