A-Z Database

A-Z Database

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Fat chance

Fat chance is an American expression in seeming negation of slim chance but through irony and sarcasm means the same thing i.e. little or no chance at...

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Fat is in the fire

The fat is in the fire is an ancient expression that is first found in English in John Heywood Proverbs (1546). It obviously derives from the way fat...

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Fat lady sings

see It’s not over till the fat lady sings

Fat lot of good/sense etc

Fat lot of good and fat lot of sense etc date from the mid-1500s and are used in an ironic sense to mean the very opposite. See also Fat chance.

Fat of the land

This means all the produce and nourishment that the countryside can offer. The origin is the Bible Genesis 43:18, “And I will give you the good of the...

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Fate hanging by a single hair/thread

see Sword of Damocles


A stupid person, originally an Americanism that dates from the mid-19th century.

Fear itself

The notion of being more fearful of fear than anything else is frequently encountered in literature. For example, Franklin D. Roosevelt used it in his...

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Feast or famine

This expression means from one extreme to the other. Feast and famine have long been juxtaposed throughout literature but using different words. The B...

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Feather in one’s cap

A feather in one’s cap signifies a laudatory achievement. The expression has been used in this figurative sense since the 18th century. The wearing of...

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Feeding frenzy

First used c.1950s to describe the frenetic feeding habits of sharks once they have smelled blood; by the 1960s, the phrase is being used figuratively...

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Feel in one’s bones/water

Whether one feels something in one’s bones or one’s water they both mean the same thing i.e. that one has an intuition about something. The bones vers...

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Feeling blue

see Blues

Feeling in one’s bones/water

see Feel in one’s bones/water

Feet of clay

To have feet of clay signifies vulnerability, instability or weakness. The source is the Bible where Daniel interprets a dream for Nebuchadnezzar of B...

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