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
Faith moves mountains

Belief and conviction can sometimes achieve what appears to be impossible. The source is St Paul, Corinthians I, 13:2, “Though I have all faith, so th...

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Fall between two stools

see Between two stools

Fall down like ninepins

Ninepins or skittles has been a popular game since The Middle Ages. This expression meaning to fall in a heap or collapse dates from the 16th century.

Fall from grace

To fall from grace is to lose esteem and derives from the allusion to the fall of man in Genesis 3, when Adam and Eve fell from the grace of God, whic...

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Fall guy

Victim or scapegoat, someone who takes the blame or the fall, is an Americanism that dates from c.1900.

Fall on one’s sword

The literal meaning is to commit suicide by inverting one’s sword and falling upon it as disgraced Roman generals used to do after losing battles. Peo...

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Fall out

In the sense of uncontrolled falling debris, following an explosion dates from c. 1945. Soon thereafter, it was being used widely in the sense of atom...

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Fall/fallen off the wagon

see On the wagon

Fall/Land in butter

To fall or to land in butter, or a tub of butter, is an expression that means to be lucky or fortunate in the sense of being able to enjoy the finer t...

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Falling off a log

See Easy as falling off a log

Familiarity breeds contempt

A very old proverb, the sense of which first appears in Aesop’s Fables, The Fox and the Lion, c. 550 BC. The OED maintains the exact construction in E...

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Family jewels

Jocular slang for male genitalia, first attested in America in the 1920s but now widespread across the English-speaking world.


An enthusiast, particularly of sport; this Americanism is an abbreviation of fanatic and dates from the late 19th century, originally associated with...

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Outside of North America this is slang for the female pudenda and is first cited from c.1860 although its verbal usage may well date from before. Acco...

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Fanny Adams

see Sweet Fanny Adams

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